Jets – Dolphins Preview
In case anyone is wondering, the Jets do still have a game scheduled against the Dolphins this Sunday. The Jets have become a lightning rod of controversy lately and since Sanchez silenced his football critics last week all that’s left for people to pick on are things unrelated to football, for this week at least.
Braylon Edwards DWI arrest doesn’t cancel the game, the two teams still have to actually line-up on the field and play some football. Regardless of how you feel about Edwards’ actions the fact is there is no precedent in place to punish Edwards anymore than to say he won’t start.
Edwards is far from the first NFL player to get a DWI (In fact the Dolphins, Ronnie Brown, got one of his own this summer, but no one was calling for him to miss game-time) and he certainly won’t be the last. Due to the CBA, teams can’t suspend players for DWIs, only the league can and they will only do so on your second substance abuse offense.
The general public and much of the media seems to forget this is a legal issue and how and if the Jets or the NFL decide to punish him isn’t going to have any effect on the legal punishment he will have to deal with on his day in court. This however is not a website where people debate legal merit or moral standards, here the focus is on football and there is a pretty gigantic game that is going to be played on Sunday night as the Jets take their talents to South Beach.
On Sunday night the Jets and Dolphins will battle it out on national television (8:20 on NBC) to determine who sits in first place in the division, even if it is only three weeks into the season. The Dolphins have spent the first two weeks on the road and this week they play their first home game of the season, the Jets come in with a 1-1 record and will travel for the first time this season.
The Dolphins swept the season series last year winning both their games against the Jets to make it three straight victories against their division rivals.
How the Dolphins Got to 2-0
The Dolphins currently sit alone atop the AFC East, having beaten the Bills and Vikings. The Dolphins may have won both their games, but the Bills hung around for much longer than they should have and Brett Favre literally handed the Dolphins the game on three interceptions and fumble in his own end zone.
In week one the Dolphins traveled to Buffalo where they out gained the Bills with 296 total yards (164 yards passing and 132 yards rushing) to the Bills 166 total yards (116 yards passing and only 50 yards rushing). Still somehow the Bills hung around and had a chance to win the game with the clock running out, but the Dolphins defense held strong and sealed the victory. The Dolphins managed 10 tackles for a loss of yards (three sacks) against the Bills to keep the Bills stalled unable to break free and take the lead in the game, the Dolphins ultimately won the game 15-10.
In week two in Minnesota the Vikings moved the ball with ease up and down the field against the Dolphins, but it seemed like Favre was, well Favre. It seemed like every time the Vikings drove down the field setting themselves up for a touchdown Favre would drop back and throw a terrible pass that everyone in the stadium knew would be picked off as soon as it left his hands.
Adrian Peterson rushed for 145-yards on 28 carries (a 5.2 yards per carry avg.) and Favre still threw for 225-yards, it was just those pesky turnovers that kept them from winning the game. Sound familiar? Most of Favre’s success came from using his big tight-end to attack the middle of the field, something the Jets used to their advantage last week against the Patriots.
The Dolphins only managed 114-yards through the air, normally teams pick on the Viking’s secondary finding it easier to pass on them then to run against their two Williams’ upfront, but the Dolphins mixed in enough of the ‘Wildcat’ to keep the Vikings defense off balance.
Cromartie vs. Brandon Marshall
Darrelle Revis will not be making the trip to Miami with his teammates as he will be forced to watch the game from home because of a strained hamstring. This leaves Cromartie needing to step up and fill Revis’ shoes for the second week in a row. Cromartie played great last week completely shutting down Randy Moss, this week he will have to shut down Brandon Marshall.
The Dolphins have never had a receiver who has caught more than 100 passes in a season, Marshall has caught over 100 passes in each of the past three years. Marshall is a stronger more physical receiver than Moss and although Cromartie is familiar with Marshall he presents a different type of challenge for the corner. The key to this match-up is if Cromartie trusts his ability and doesn’t reach-out and grab after 5-yards, Cromartie’s speed and athleticism should be enough to make up any ground Marshall has on him, Cromartie just has to trust that he can make the play without grabbing. Marshall is a dangerous receiver, but if Cromartie doesn’t bail him out Henne will most likely have a difficult time getting him the ball in open space.
Bell/Clemons vs. Dustin Keller
Last week, Dustin Keller ate up the Patriots secondary to the tune of seven catches for 155-yards and a touchdown and the Dolphins also gave up big plays to the Vikings tight-end over the middle. Jet fans have seen a lot of potential from Keller, what they haven’t seen is consistent back-to-back big-time performances, Keller will be looking to repeat last week’s performance and the closer he comes to matching last week’s total the better chance the Jets have of winning.
Braylon Edwards vs. the Bench
Edwards will not start the game, that is all we know. Rex Ryan is keeping his decision on just how long he will sit close to the vest, he says he will know the exact amount of time before kickoff and no he doesn’t have any intentions of sharing that information with any of us, guess we will just have to see.
With Holmes already out missing the first four games, Edwards presence is crucial to the Jets success. Having a big strong receiver like Edwards allows the Jets to stretch the field and opens things up for everyone else. It will be interesting to see how the Jets attack offensively without Edwards, and if the offense starts to stall without him, then how long will Ryan keep him on the bench in the important game.
Taming the ‘Wildcat’
The Dolphins have created an entire new dimension to their offense. Not only do opposing defenses have to plan to stop the run and pass, but they also have to be prepared for the tricky hybrid of both that is the ‘Wildcat.’ With two different big strong running backs capable of many different tricks, the “Wildcat,’ can cause problems simply by making reads harder for the defense. Whenever the Dolphins start to struggle running a normal offense they look to the , ‘Wildcat,’ to break them out of their funk, if the Jets can control the ‘Wildcat,’ they can control the game.
First and second downs
The Jets took advantage of the Patriots by passing the ball downfield on first and second downs. This accomplished two things, it kept the Patriots defense on their heels not being able to tell what the Jets were going to do and it opened up the entire field for whatever they felt the urge to run. The Dolphins are unlikely to be caught as off-guard as the Patriots were, but still if Sanchez has success early look for the Jets to continue switching things up and fooling the Dolphins.
Same thing for the Jets defense. If they can stop the Dolphins on first and second down and force them into third-and-long situations the Dolphins will struggle to pick up first-downs and will become more likely to turn the ball over trying to force a big play.
Last week the Dolphins came rushing around the edge to continuously sack Favre as he just couldn’t avoid the rush. The Patriots tried the same thing to the Jets but, Sanchez’s ability to roll out on a collapsing pocket and make plays was what made the difference for the Jets. Sanchez looks remarkably comfortable throwing the ball on the run and having Sanchez rollout is when this team can suddenly become frighteningly explosive on offense.
This should be a very entertaining game, with the score being kept close throughout. Both teams have dangerous defenses, but even without Revis the Jets have the better defense (as they proved with their second-half shut-down of the Patriots last week) and the have the more explosive and dangerous offense. Look for Sanchez to stretch the field early and expect to see Shonn Greene get more touches this week than the last two weeks as the Jets will want to go back to their ‘ground-and-pound’ mentality. After a close first-half look for the Jets to slowly wear out the Dolphins and pull away with the victory.
Jets over Dolphins, 23-13