The Jets travel to Miami for a season finale that still has meaning. If the Jets win, and the Titans and Bengals and Raiders or Broncos lose, Rex Ryan's team goes to the playoffs for the third straight year.
Catching up with the Dolphins ...
1. A lot has happened to them since they visited MetLife Stadium Oct. 17. For starters, they have a new coach, Todd Bowles, who received the interim tag after replacing Tony Sparano. The Dolphins are 1-1 under Bowles, who almost certainly will be replaced after the season. A huge cloud of uncertainty is hanging over the Dolphins, who face a tumultuous offseason.
2. The Jets won the last meeting rather easily, 24-6, and the two rivals appeared headed in different directions. But it hasn't turned out that way. Since that game, which dropped them to 0-5 on the way to 0-7, the Dolphins are 5-5, averaging 23.5 points per game and allowing 16.8. Since then, the Jets are 5-4, with 23.9 for and 23.7, respectively.
3. The Dolphins could've saved a little face in their miserable season, but they blew a 17-0 lead in the fourth quarter to the Patriots last week and lost, 27-17, in Foxborough. Same 'Ol Dolphins.
4. The Dolphins have won three of their last four home games after a seven-game winning streak, but they've dropped four of their last five to the Jets in South Florida.
5. After a slow start, Reggie Bush has really picked it up. He has rushed for a career-high 1,086 yards and a 5.0 average. Bush hurt his right leg in last week's loss to the Patriots, but says he should be okay.
6. The Dolphins' passing game was absolutely inept in the first meeting, but QB Matt Moore (89.8 passer rating) and WR Brandon Marshall (77 catches, 1,177 yards) have developed a nice rapport. Marshall was unstoppable against the Patriots, racking up 156 yards on seven catches. The Marshall-Darrelle Revis matchup is sure to generate plenty of buzz. In the last meeting, Revis had a 100-yard interception return on a pass targeted for Marshall.
7. How Marshall has put up those numbers is remarkable, considering the Dolphins' utter lack of pass protection. They've allowed 51 sacks, one shy of the franchise record. It could get worse because franchise LT Jake Long suffered a torn biceps and, obviously, isn't going to be blocking anybody for several months.
Unless you've spent the holidays on a tropical island, you probably know that Mark Sanchez had 67 dropbacks in the Christmas Eve loss to the Giants -- 59 pass attempts, five sacks and three scrambles.
In short, that's a lot. Rex Ryan said Wednesday that will never happen -- ever.
Some perspective: In the famous "Miracle at the Meadowlands" in 2000, when the Jets beat the Dolphins in overtime, Vinny Testaverde had only 61 dropbacks -- 59 passes, one sack and one scramble. (By the way, he completed 36 for 378 yards and five TDs.)
The 67 dropbacks are the most in a game this season and tied for the most since the start of 2008, according to John McTigue of ESPN Stats & Information. Sanchez’s previous high was 51, done in 2010 (Week 14 vs Dolphins).
Most Dropbacks in a Single Game, Last 4 Seasons
Mark Sanchez ....... 67 -- Week 16 vs Giants, 2011
Brian Griese ......... 67 -- Week 3 vs Bears, 2008
Matthew Stafford . 66 -- Week 10 vs Bears, 2011
Colt McCoy .......... 66 -- Week 4 vs Titans, 2011
Matt Schaub ........ 64 -- Week 14 vs Ravens, 2010
Note: Griese and Schaub were OT games.
Most Dropbacks in a Single Game, 2011 Season
Mark Sanchez ....... 67 -- Week 16 vs Giants
Matthew Stafford .. 66 -- Week 10 vs Bears
Colt McCoy .......... 66 -- Week 4 vs Titans
Chad Henne ......... 57 -- Week 1 vs Patriots
Curtis Painter ....... 57 -- Week 8 vs Titans
Jets coach Rex Ryan called the team into a scrum at midfield of the indoor turf Thursday afternoon soon after the Jets finished stretching before practice. It wasn't part of the regular routine.He told them the season was still in hand, that playoffs and even a Super Bowl were still possibilities. He tried to fan that flame of possibility in everyone's mind and let them know how rare it was to get a chance at the postseason.
"Today, I just wanted to remind them of the opportunity that's in front of us," Ryan said. "Obviously, it's a little different. For the last two years, we really haven't been in this position. We, obviously, were already in the playoffs last year. The year before, we knew if we won, we were in the playoffs. This is kind of a different scenario than we've had in the last two years. I just wanted to make sure that I just kind of expressed that, 'Hey, we still have a heck of an opportunity still in front of us,' and to basically practice accordingly.
"It was just something I wanted to share with them."
Ryan's emotional speech had an impact on the assembled players, and may have been a way of changing focus from things they can't control -- the three NFL games that have to break their way -- to the one they can control in Miami.
"He's an animal, I love him," tight end Matthew Mulligan said. "Best coach I ever played for. Absolutely. He has different ways of motivating."Ryan reminded them that players like Archie Manning and Takeo Spikes had tremendous careers, but they never won a Super Bowl. It made center Nick Mangold think back to his rookie year, when the starting center at the time, Pete Kendall, took him under his wing.
"He had played for 10 years, or whatever," Mangold said. "When I first got here, when we had the opportunity to got to the playoffs my rookie year; he was saying he’d only been to the playoffs his rookie year and that was it. I've taken that to heart. Every opportunity you get you got to make the best of it."A few players mentioned that they have to do the work this week or Ryan will inevitably get the blame, should the Jets fall short of the goals that Ryan isn't afraid to say out loud even now -- the playoffs, the Super Bowl.
"You've got to appreciate a guy who is going to put himself out there, and really show how he cares about this team, this organization, the guys in the locker room," Mangold said. "It's definitely appreciated."