Jets T D'Brickashaw Ferguson will have a tough task against the Dolphins' Jason Taylor this weekend. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Heading into the 2007 season, expectations were high for a New York Jets squad coming off of an unexpected playoff appearance in ’06. So far, a suspect defense, an injured quarterback, an ineffective ground game and questionable kickoff coverage are doing the Jets in as they are now in an 0-2 hole. They are not alone in the AFC East, however.
Gang Green will return to the Meadowlands on Sunday to do battle with their long-time rivals, the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are also looking for their first win of the season after losing their first two games to NFC East squads (to the surprising Redskins in week one in overtime, and to the resurgent Cowboys in week two).
Both teams are going through some hard times early and would love to get their hands on victory number one. Throw in the fact that this is a divisional rivalry with a deep and long-standing history, and this game could be worth paying attention to.
“It is going to be a good game because that is the way the Jets and Dolphins play each other,” said WR Laveranues Coles. “We always have good games because we have known each other for a long time. It’s always going to be a good game when we play the Dolphins.”
The Jets offense, anchored by Kellen Clemens last week, started off slow but got it together in the final drives to nearly pull off a comeback win in Baltimore. This week, though, it appears that Chad Pennington might take back his spot. In Wednesday’s practice, his right ankle did not give him any problems as he performed his drills with ease. Still, the spot is up for grabs, and start or no start, Pennington will plan ahead as usual.
“I'm going to prepare just like I always prepare and work just as hard as I always have worked,” said Pennington. “Nothing has changed for me as far as my mindset and my focus and what I'm trying to do.”
As for the offense, they will go up against a Miami defense that gave up 37 points to Dallas last week. Yet even with that performance, undervaluing what the Dolphins bring to the table on defense would bring dire consequences, especially when it is led by veteran Pro-Bowl DE Jason Taylor and LB Zack Thomas.
“If you don't put a hat on Zach Thomas he's going to make every tackle, and if you're not aware of Jason Taylor he's going to change the game,” Pennington said. “Those two players are perennial Pro¬-Bowlers and All¬-Pros. They're done a great job throughout their careers and you have to know where those guys are.”
The Jets defense, meanwhile, will face an offense led by Trent Green, the Dolphins’ big off-season acquisition. Although he has raked up a large amount of passing yards, he struggled mightily against Dallas, throwing four interceptions last Sunday. Yet with the weapons he has at his disposal, such as Chris Chambers and Marty Booker, it is an offense that has potential to do some damage.
“They got weapons,” said S Kerry Rhodes. “We are going to get out here and work and try to get things clicking.”
The defense will also be without CB Justin Miller for the remainder of the season. Miller was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after injuring his knee in the second quarter of the game against the Ravens.
The kickoff coverage on special teams also needs to get things clicking if the Jets want a win on Sunday. The kickoff team gave up long returns of 108 and 61 yards against New England’s and Baltimore’s return specialists, respectively. The former was a touchdown return. Preventing another long return from happening will be a key for New York in order to have an advantage against Miami.
Given the early starts for both teams, Sunday’s match-up might add an interesting chapter to this traditionally competitive rivalry. Fans on both sides of the spectrum will expect a dogfight to the bitter end, with the best team coming out on top.
KEYS TO VICTORY
OFFENSE: Regardless of who is starting at quarterback, jumping out to an early start and keeping it on a consistent basis throughout the day is a must for this Jets offense, especially against a Miami defense that gave up 37 points against the Cowboys. The rushing game must also make its presence felt. Thomas Jones has not factored at all for the ground game, and Leon Washington hasn’t fared any better. A breakout game against the league’s 31st ranked rushing defense could be just what the doctor ordered.
DEFENSE: While the Jets rushing game has been nonexistent, that of the Dolphins isn’t faring much better either. The Dolphins are last in rushing offense, averaging 63.5 yards per game. It is something that the Jets defense must take advantage of. Miami’s passing game might pose problems, since they are 12th in the NFL in passing yards per game. However, Green was ineffective against the Cowboys defense last week, throwing four picks. New York must put into effect the same kind of pressure Dallas put on him. If Green gets very flustered early on and makes mistakes in the passing game, then the Jets can force the Dolphins to win with their weak link, in the form of the ground game.
Some of the players on the Jets roster have spent some of their careers with the Dolphins, and Sunday will see them reunite with their former teammates. Among the ex-Dolphins now with Gang Green include LB David Bowens, RB Darian Barnes, and OL Wade Smith.
While there are no former Jets who are currently on the Dolphins roster, some Miami players have called the Meadowlands home in the past. K Jay Feely (2005-06) and CB Will Allen (2001-05) once played in East Rutherford for the Giants.
Respect for Revis
It’s only been two games in the young career of Darrelle Revis, and already it appears that opposing offenses are wary of testing the rookie. Not a whole lot of balls have come his way yet, and when they have, he was able to break off those passes. Some would say that opponents are showing respect for Revis. Others believe that it is merely whatever kind of strategy the opposing offensive coordinator prefers to go ahead with.
“He's had some balls thrown at him and he's competed well on those balls,” said Mangini in his press conference Wednesday. “Every game plan is different and why they chose to throw on one guy or another, some of it is purely read-¬based or player-specific. You don't know necessarily what the thought process is from the other offensive coordinator.”
Hopefully, Sunday’s game will be a time to shine for the former Pittsburgh star.
Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will be seeing a familiar face on the opposite sidelines on Sunday. Schottenheimer will reunite with Miami head coach Cam Cameron. Cameron and Schottenheimer both worked together for the Chargers under former head coach and Brian’s father Marty Schottenheimer. Brian was the quarterbacks coach while Cameron held down the offensive coordinator position.
Cameron, who is often regarded by many as an offensive genius, was cited by Jets head coach Eric Mangini as the reason for bringing in Schottenheimer to coach the offense.
“I really like their offensive system,” Mangini said in his press conference Wednesday. “That's one of the reasons Brian is here. I think Cam has done a good job putting it in and it will grow each week.
The rivalry between the Jets and Dolphins has been a long-standing one, and the Jets have a slight advantage in it. New York is 43-39-1 against their long-time AFC East brethren. The most recent win came last season on Christmas day as the Jets were victorious 13-10.
Limited Participation in Practice: WR Jerricho Cotchery (shoulder), CB Andre Dyson (foot), OL Brandon Moore (shoulder), QB Chad Pennington (ankle), DL Dewayne Robertson (knee), S Eric Smith (thigh)
Full Participation in Practice: CB David Barrett (thigh), LB David Bowens (hand), TE Joe Kowalewski (shoulder), RB Thomas Jones (calf), FB Stacy Tutt (foot)
Did Not Participate in Practice: LB Zach Thomas (migraine)
Limited Participation in Practice: S Donovan Darius (calf), G Rex Hadnot (shoulder)
Game time is at 1:00PM on Sunday, local TV on CBS 2 and local radio on 1050 ESPN radio and WCRN 104.3 on Long Island. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com after the game for a complete recap!
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