Much of the Jets' success in 2015 can be attributed to one simple thing: defensive turnovers. In the Jets' 10 wins in 2015 the Jets defense generated a whopping 27 turnovers. In the six losses the Jets defense generated only three turnovers. It was really that simple. Of course, the Jets were fortunate enough to face a string of bad quarterbacks in 2015, from Johnny Manziel to Kellen Moore to T.J. Yates to Ryan Tannehill to an injured Andrew Luck suffering through by far the worst season of his career.
2016 has been a different kettle of fish. The first five games of the 2016 season have seen the Jets facing Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor, Alex Smith, Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger. The first four quarterbacks on that list are all among the least turnover prone quarterbacks in the NFL. Wilson had eight interceptions in all of 2015. Smith and Dalton had seven; Taylor had six. It just isn't easy turning these guys over, and multiple interception games are nearly impossible. Only Roethlisberger among the first five opponents is somewhat prone to turnovers.
To make matters worse, of the first five quarterbacks faced by the Jets in 2016, four of the five are threats to run. That slows down the pass rush, as there is a priority placed on keeping the quarterback contained in the pocket. Only Dalton among the five is not much of a threat to run. It is probably not a coincidence that the only game this year that the Jets put consistent pressure on the quarterback was the Bengals game.
The defensive line being able to pin their ears back and pressure the quarterback helps a suspect Jets secondary in coverage. It also can produce some errant throws, providing opportunities for precious turnovers.
That brings us to this week's opposing quarterback, Carson Palmer. There is some good news for Jets fans with Carson Palmer. He is strictly a pocket passer, presenting no threat to run. In addition, the Cardinals' passing attack is the most vertical attack in the NFL, which requires more time in the pocket than the average NFL quarterback. This should in theory result in increased opportunities for the Jets' defensive line to get to the quarterback.
Then we come to perhaps the best news for Jets fans, and the stat of the week. Carson Palmer was not a particularly turnover prone quarterback in 2015, with only 11 interceptions on the year. However, at the tail end of the year he got worse, and in the start of the 2016 season, that has continued. Here's the stat of the week: over his last eight games, including playoffs, Carson Palmer has thrown a whopping 13 interceptions and fumbled six times. That has helped to produce an incredible 24 Arizona turnovers during those eight games.
So far in 2015 the Jets defense has only managed to generate four turnovers in five games, while the offense has turned the ball over 13 times. That makes it almost impossible to win games. This Monday in Arizona presents an opposing quarterback who is no threat to run and likes to take time in the pocket to unleash a vertical attack. That should present opportunities for the Jets pass rush to do some damage. Combine that with a turnover rate over the last eight games Palmer has started that exceeds even the Jets turnover rate in 2016 and you get a fighting chance for the Jets in Arizona.
The opportunity is there, more so than in any of the first five games of the year, to create multiple turnovers and steal a game against a quality opponent on the road. We'll see if the Jets are up to the challenge.