Turning to the Dolphins
FLORHAM PARK, NJ - With a full two days to critique the Monday night debacle, the Jets (and hopefully the media) will turn their eyes to another divisional foe, the Miami Dolphins.
At 6-6, the Dolphins will come into the New Meadowlands Stadium with their backs up against the wall holding on to the final thread of playoff hopes. In all likelihood, the Dolphins will have to win their final four games to even have a shot at getting in to the playoffs.
The Jets have a little more flexability, but after the 45-3 loss at the hands of the Patriots, this will be as close to a must-win game for a 9-3 team.
Rex Ryan took his team outside in the middle of a team meeting yesterday to, literally, put the Patriots game to rest. He took a game ball and buried it six feet deep, a chilling metaphor that the game is over and we can all move on and focus on Miami.
“They’ve traditionally played us tough since I’ve been here,” Mark Sanchez said, already re-focusing his attention. “We want to come out firing, finish strong and just be ready for their defense that always plays well.”
Since the two teams met in Week 3, both have had identity crisis issues. For the Jets, once considered a run-to-set-up-the-pass team with a stingy defense, has faced problems adjusting to a more passing team that, on the defensive side, has trouble communicating.
The Dolphins were looked at quite similarly, with an unique running attack and a defense that prides themselves with their physical level of play. However the additions of Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess, and the disappearance of their two-headed monster in the backfield has left Dolphins fans wondering what exactly to make of this team.
Marshall was brought in to compliment the surging passing game behind Chad Henne. His impact was felt immensely in the Jets 31-23 win over the Dolphins as he nearly willed his team to a victory on 10 receptions, 166 yards and a touchdown. Since then, however, Marshall has had little to no impact on the Dolphins. In his last four games he could barely duplicate his numbers in Week 3: 16 receptions, 169 yards, 0 touchdowns.
While Marshall’s size and skill set always makes him a point of interest to opposing teams, having Darrelle Revis as opposed to Antonio Cromartie(who, at the time was still adjusting to the defensive schemes) will more than likely keep Marshall’s underachieving numbers going.
It will be interesting to see how Cromartie, who was burned for two touchdowns last week, handles Henne’s go-to guy, Davone Bess.
“They have a young guy in Bess that’s been doing a heck of a job for them this year,” Cromartie said.
Bess has emerged as a threat in this league, in particular on third downs. The Dolphins, despite their inefficiencies in the running game and their carousel ride that is the starting quarterback position, are eighth in the league in third-down conversions (42%), thanks in part to Bess’s sure-handedness. Of his 61 receptions, 35 have gone for first downs. That’s good for an astounding first-down rate of 57%.
But it hasn’t been Bess, Marshall, nor Henne that has been the Dolphins best offensive threat. That honor has been bestowed upon kicker Dan Carpenter. He leads the team with 99 points and has successfully made 27 of his 33 field goal attempts. And unlike his New York counterpart, Nick Folk, he has been able to connect from 50+ yard. Four times he has kicked from the half-century mark or further with success (60, 54, 53, 50).
On the defensive side of the ball, be aware of former Candanian League-er, Cameron Wake, who leads the NFL in sacks with 12. Wake will look to wreak havoc in the backfield create pressure from the outside edge.
He may prove to be an even tougher assignment for a Jets offensive line that is nursing a few minor injuries. Damien Woody did not practice Thursday with a knee problem. And while D’Brickashaw Ferguson was a full participant Thursday, he did jam his shoulder while finishing off a block in practice.