Jets RB Thomas Jones had his first 100 yard game of the season when the Jets last played Miami at home for their first win this season. (Jets Indsider.con Photo)
Even though the Jets are facing an 0-11 team, there's no one on the squad that thinks Sunday’s game against the Dolphins is an automatic win. It will be anything but. Despite their record, the 'Fins have been in most of their games, losing six by three points or less.
Gang Green will travel to Miami this weekend to do battle with the winless Dolphins, who are hungry for their first victory and hopefully the Jets learned their lesson from week four.
During that week four matchup against winless Buffalo the injury-depleted Bills beat the Jets behind rookie quarterback Trent Edwards.
The Dolphins will look to do same. Like Buffalo, Miami will be putting trust in rookie quarterback John Beck who played his college football at Brigham Young University. The last time these two teams met Trent Green was the Dolphins quarterback. But with Green on injured reserve because of a concussion and backup Cleo Lemon playing ineffectively, the door opened for Beck.
Furthermore, Beck is playing without his best supporting cast. RB Ronnie Brown, who ran all over the Jets in week three, is now on injured reserve with a knee injury. RB Ricky Williams, who was just reinstated by the NFL, has joined Brown on injured reserve with a torn chest muscle. Along with missing his top two running backs, Beck is also without WR Chris Chambers. Chambers was dealt by the Dolphins to the Chargers at the trading deadline.
But even though the Dolphins have lost a lot of key players and struggled this season, Jets head coach Eric Mangini has made sure this week in practice his players know that the Jets are playing a team better than the record indicates.
“The approach that we take is really the same,” said Mangini about approach he wants his team to take. “When you look at their season, (they lost) six games by three points or less. I thought they played Pittsburgh really well and in tough conditions. There have been nine games by seven points or less, so they have definitely been close.”
“Their record is not really a focus of ours. We know that a lot of their games have been won or lost by a touchdown or less. It is not a situation where you say they are 0-11, this is in the bag,” said Jets left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson. “It is more a situation of saying this is a great team. To be successful against them, we have to go out there and we have to execute.”
Jets Offense vs. Dolphins Defense
When these two teams met earlier in the season RB Thomas Jones rattled off his first 100-yard game as a member of the New York Jets. In both of the Jets wins this season Jones has been named the Jets Offensive Player of the Week. If the Jets can get Jones running like he can, it can open up the downfield, play-action passing game. And if WR Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery can’t play, not only will the Jets need a first-class effort from Jones, they need RB Leon Washington to be effective running the ball and catching passes out the backfield. But it won’t come easy as QB Kellen Clemens will always have to know where DE Jason Taylor is on the field.
Dolphins Offense vs. Jets Defense
Even in the loss to the Cowboys, the Jets Defense didn’t play the poorly for being on the field for so long. Over the pass two weeks the Jets defense has awakened. DT Dewayne Robertson has compiled 3.5 sacks while DE Shaun Ellis has two sacks in two games. And LB David Harris has been impressing ever since taking over for LB Jonathan Vilma. Harris leads the team in tackles with 74. So with a very young and injury depleted Dolphins offense, the Jets defense are probably raring to take the field.
Jets Special Teams vs. Dolphins Special Teams
Washington was totally taken out of the game against the Cowboys and both of the Jets wins this season Washington’s special teams plays have been the difference. Also the play of K Mike Nugent has been good, especially of late. Nugent has hit his last six field goal attempts and is 13-of-his-last-14 attempts. His only miss came against Washington when he missed a 54-yard field goal attempt. The one person the Jets can’t forget about on the Dolphins special teams unit is WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr. All week during his press conferences, Mangini kept mentioning how explosive Ginn Jr. is.
Keys to Victory
RB Thomas Jones will be the reason why the Jets will win or lose. If Gang Green doesn’t have WR’s Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery, it will be vital for Jones to be effective running the ball. Jones ran over the Dolphins in week three and if Coles and Cotchery can’t go, Jones will have to pick up their slack.
Jets LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson vs. Dolphins DE Jason Taylor
If offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer wants to get Jones and the running game going, they are going to need a better effort from the offensive line, who were atrocious in Dallas last week. This week a turnaround starts with Ferguson who will be assigned to defending AFC Defensive Player of the Year Jason Taylor. Taylor leads the Dolphins sacks (6) this season. If the Jets want to make things happen offensively, Ferguson will have to stop Taylor from putting pressure on Clemens.
The Bottom Line: This is a game where the Jets should win and they need to win. After being shellacked on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas in front of a national audience, the last thing Gang Green wants is to be the first team to lose to Dolphins. Clemens needs to perform well and show all his doubters that he can be the Jets quarterback of the future. But possibly being without Coles and Cotchery, Clemens task of winning won’t be an easy one.
Prediction: Jets 20, Dolphins 17
INJURY REPORT (as of 11/29/07
New York Jets
Did not participate in practice
WR Jerricho Cotchery (finger)
Limited participation in practice
CB David Barrett (hip), WR Laveranues Coles (ankle), LS James Dearth (foot), DT Dewayne Robertson (knee)
Full participation in practice
TE Chris Baker (back), WR Chris Davis (shoulder), TE Joe Kowalewski (shoulder), DT C.J. Mosley (shoulder), WR Brad Smith (back)
Did not participate in practice
DT Vonnie Holliday (ankle), LB Zach Thomas (migraine)
Limited participation in practice
RB Jesse Chatman (ankle), DE Matt Roth (groin)
Game time is at 1 p.m. 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!