Miami Dolphins at New York Jets
November 1, 2009: 1:00 PM. CBS.
The New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins clash this week in a huge football game in week 8 can be for reasons listed here. The Jets took out their anger of losing three straight games on a dysfunctional Oakland Raiders team last week. But that game means nothing compared to this game. New York embarrassed after losing to the Dolphins three weeks ago. The Jets have talked a ton of trash, and the Dolphins have followed suit, and both teams really need this game. If Miami sweeps the Jets, they will have two weeks to absorb the punch to their gut. If the Dolphins fall, they can all but kiss their playoff chances good bye. Let's get to the preview.
When the Jets have the ball...
After back to back 300+ yard rushing outputs, the Jets have finally established their ground-and-pound offense. Brian Schottenheimer is going to try to establish the run first as usual, but the Dolphins' run defense is leaps and bounds better than Oakland and Buffalo's. Their front seven has been pretty strong stopping the run all season long.
Leon Washington is gone, but luckily for the Jets, runningback is the one place on the roster where they actually have quality depth. Shonn Greene stepped in and ran for 144 yards last week. He lacks Washington's versatility, but he adds power and fresh legs. Still, Thomas Jones will be the primary ball carrier. He's coming off back-to-back 100+ yard games, including a franchise record 210-yard performance two weeks ago.
Jones, Washington, and Greene combined for 26 carries for 94 yards against Miami in the first one. They have to do better this time around. Dolphins LB Channing Crowder is unlikely to play, so their run defense takes a slight hit. The running game finally gained a groove in the past two weeks, so it should do a little better in this matchup, but Miami will put up a good fight.
But where the Jets nearly won the game the first time around was in the passing game. Even though Mark Sanchez only completed 50% of his passes, he made big plays when the Jets needed them, with Braylon Edwards making two big plays down field. Jerricho Cotchery also was limited in that game. He's expected to play Sunday, and he expects to play well.
Miami is missing their top cornerback Will Allen, so they will be starting two rookie cornerbacks in Sean Smith and Vontae Davis against two talented and savvy receivers. If the Jets can keep the Dolphins' pass rushers like Joey Porter and Jason Taylor away from Sanchez, he should be able to make some plays. Assuming, of course, he doesn't self-destruct. He rebuilt some confidence against Oakland, so he should play well enough against Miami.
Both units have their holes. The Jets should be able to run the ball pretty well, and their receivers will make enough big plays. On the other hand, there's too much pride and talent on Miami's side to let a rookie quarterback who hasn't been playing that well to put up that many points. The Jets put up 27 in the first game, but two fake punts prolonged dead drives, and a borderline pass interference call helped them out greatly.
When the Dolphins have the ball...
Most people point to the Wildcat as the reason the Dolphins won the first game. While it was certainly successful, the bottom line was that Miami's offensive line was able to shove the Jets' front seven around, and the Dolphins were 9-14 on 3rd down. The Jets have talked all week about how things will be different this time. Well, for that to happen, they need to put Chad Henne in third-and-long situations.
Henne was the unsung hero of the Monday night game. He went 20-26 for 241 yards and 2 touchdowns, by far the best performance by an opposing quarterback so far. 9 different Dolphins caught passes in the first game, showing how much the Dolphins rely on unpredictability and how well Henne can spread the ball around in the right situation. Still, don't look for Darrelle Revis to be burned again.
The Jets need to put Henne in tough situations, and to do that, they need to stuff the run. Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown ran well in the first match, both from the Wildcat and from normal formations. The Jets will miss Kris Jenkins a lot inside, but there's still too much talent at linebacker for them to run completely wild.
CB Donald Strickland should be back again, so the Jets will have more depth at cornerback than they did initially. But in reality, the defense just needs to disengage blocks and not blow assignments like they did before. Whether it's not controlling a gap in the running game or letting Ted Ginn Jr. run deep for a touchdown, the Jets had mental breakdowns in this game that they simply have not shown in any other game.
There's reason to think the first game was just an aberration defensively, but without Jenkins, the Dolphins still will generate yards and points on the running game. Still, the pass defense should be much improved as Calvin Pace, the team's best pass rusher is acclimated back to the defense after terrorizing JaMarcus Russell last week. Henne played almost flawlessly in the first game, and in his first road game in the NFL, he is bound to come back to earth.
The Jets have been looking forward to this game for weeks, but the Dolphins would like nothing more than to shut the Jets up and possibly save their own season. Still, playing back at home should be a big help in this rivalry game, as the fans should be revved up to provide a raucous atmosphere for Henne to deal with. The Jets also have a big advantage on special teams, as they burned the Dolphins for two fake punts last week, and Justin Miller is just as talented a return man as Leon Washington.
This should be a close game. These two teams in many ways are pretty evenly matched. Both have strong running games and young quarterbacks behind good offensive lines. The Jets have better weapons offensively and a better pass defense, while the Dolphins offer a better run defense. This game will come down to which team makes fewer mistakes, and it's easier to trust Sanchez at home than Henne on the road for the first time. Both quarterbacks played well in the first game, but the Jets barely touched Henne. That should change, and so should the final result.
Jets 24, Dolphins 20