Arizona Cardinals "offense": The New York Jets can play defense, ranking 13th in Football Outsiders' defensive DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) metric entering Sunday. Still, even against an elite defense, which the Jets certainly are not, an NFL-caliber offense should be able to generate more than 137 yards of total offense and convert at least one third-down opportunity. Playing with two rookie offensive tackles (Bobby Massie, Nate Potter), an inexperienced center (Rich Ohrnberger) and a rookie sixth-round pick making his second NFL start (Ryan Lindley), the Cardinals gained just 137 yards on 54 plays and were a staggering 0 for 15 on third down. Lindley passed for just 72 yards on his 31 attempts, a 2.32 yards per attempt (YPA) performance that is the fourth-lowest single game YPA total since 1960, according to Pro Football Reference's handy "Play Index" tools.
The Cardinals have now lost eight straight and haven't scored 20 or more points since Sept. 30. Ken Whisenhunt woke up on Monday morning to an offense that ranks 32nd in yards per game, points per game, yards per pass play and third-down percentage with games against the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers remaining on the schedule.
[Related: Rex Ryan talks about benching Mark Sanchez]
Mark Sanchez, (backup) quarterback, New York Jets: Completing 10 of 21 pass attempts for 97 yards and three interceptions while trailing the Cardinals 3-0 late in the third quarter was the final straw for head coach Rex Ryan, who benched Sanchez in favor of second-year quarterback Greg McElroy, who proceeded to led the Jets to a 7-6 win. In his fourth season in the NFL, Sanchez's completion percentage remains mired in the mid-50s, he throws too many interceptions, takes too many sacks and does not appear to be a viable long-term option at the position for a franchise that moved up to the No. 5 spot in the calamity-filled 2009 NFL draft to select the former USC quarterback and guaranteed him $8.25 million in fully guaranteed base salary in 2013 to un-ruffle his feathers after the team acquired Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos.
Drew Brees, quarterback, New Orleans Saints: With his team's playoff hopes on the line, Brees tossed five interceptions in a 23-13 loss to the now NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons last Thursday night. While not all interceptions are the fault of the quarterback, four of the five on Thursday night can be pinned to Brees. The lone exception was a pass in the flat to running back Chris Ivory, who batted it into the air and into the arms of converging linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. The Saints needed a win to claw back to .500 and possibly contend for one of the two wild-card spots. New Orleans' porous defense actually helped, forcing a turnover and limiting the Falcons to 93 yards and six points in the second half , but Brees' interceptions derailed any comeback attempt. With four games remaining, the Saints are two games under .500 and two games behind the No. 6 seeded Seattle Seahawks.
Titus Young, wide receiver, Detroit Lions: Not only did the Lions not dress Young on Sunday, head coach Jim Schwartz didn't even want him at Ford Field for the 35-33 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Young has drawn the ire of the coaching staff with alarming frequency since joining the team as a second-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, with his latest misstep coming in a recent loss to the Green Bay Packers where he purposely lined up in the wrong spot. When Nate Burleson — who would give anything to be playing his heart out for this 4-8 team right now — went down with an injury, Young was supposed to be the guy that stepped up into the No. 2 role opposite Calvin Johnson. Young started off well, catching nine passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Seattle Seahawks. In the five games since, however, Young has just seven receptions for 79 yards and one score and has made it crystal clear that he's not a guy this franchise will ever be able to count on. The Lions are not making the playoffs and it's time for them to send a message that the sort of behavior Young has demonstrated will not be tolerated.
Ditto for the Oakland Raiders and middle linebacker Rolando McClain, a 2010 first-round pick who has been suspended for two games for "conduct detrimental to the team."
Chicago Bears defense: For much of the 2012 regular season, the Bears defense had played at an elite level, stopping high-powered offenses (limiting the Houston Texans to 215 yards of total offense), creating a league-high 34 turnovers, eight of which were returned for touchdowns. On Sunday, they were bested by Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who had struggled on the road this season. Wilson completed 23 of 37 attempts for 293 yards and two touchdowns in Seattle's 23-17 overtime win. The first touchdown was a 14-yard connection with Golden Tate that gave the Seahawks a 17-14 lead with 24 seconds remaining in regulation. Wilson's second touchdown pass was the 13-yard game-winner to Sidney Rice in overtime. Lost in the shuffle was the 71 yards Wilson had on the ground, 66 of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime periods as the Bears defense looked like the veteran, banged up unit it is as we enter the final quarter of the regular season.
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