Don't believe Chad Pennington for one second as there's nothing he wants more than to beat the team who discarded him a month ago.
Fasten your seatbelts Jets fans. The much anticipated opening game against the AFC East rival Miami Dolphins is just a few days away. It’s hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago, no one had a clue who would be the quarterback for either team. Now we know...
Favre has downplayed the hype surrounding him and Pennington, saying it’s not him versus Chad, but rather the Jets versus the Dolphins.
Miami is preaching that this season is “a new beginning” of Dolphins football. Fins fans had better hope so, being the dismal 1-15 campaign suffered last year. Either way, both teams are looking to turn things around in 2008.
Jets Head Coach Eric Mangini pointed out that the Dolphins are not going to be an easy opponent.
“I think they’ve got an excellent running game. I think the offensive line is doing a really nice job, especially considering having those two young players on the offensive line,” Mangini said.
He was talking about rookie G Donald Thomas and rookie T Jake Long. According to Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano, Long has been doing nothing but improving.
“Little by little he’s made pretty good gains with the people that he’s had to play against every single week. Every week there’s been something to learn. I’ve been pleased with what he’s done,” Sparano said after a Dolphins pre-season game.
With Jake Long providing protection on the line for Pennington, he should have a decent amount of time to throw to WR Ted Ginn. As of August 28, Ricky Williams was on the top of the depth chart at running back, but he should be expected to share carries with Ronnie Brown, who according to Williams was possibly the best running back in the first half of last season.
Brown rushed for 602 yards and five touchdowns—four rushing, one receiving—last season. With a bolstered line, and the pressure taken off him from sharing his time in the backfield, expect Brown to go for a grand this year.
First, though, the former Auburn back will have to get through Gang Green’s defense. Newly acquired LB Calvin Pace will look to help slow down Miami’s running game. Inside linebacker David Harris led linebackers last year with 77 tackles, and with DE Shaun Ellis and NT Kris Jenkins up front, expect plenty of pressure.
Put simply, the Jets are ready for this.
“We’re very anxious. We’ve had a great preseason. We’ve been coming together well as a team. Obviously you get tired of hitting the same guys in practice every day. Now, it’s actually for real and we’re excited about it,” RB Thomas Jones said.
Sure, the Jets are lining up against a familiar face, but DB Darrrelle Revis noted that it’s a different Chad.
“He’s in a new offense now so it’s going to be different. We’re not looking at the New York Jets’ Chad Pennington. We’re going to be looking at the Miami Dolphins’ Chad Pennington. It’s different.”
Jets ‘O’ vs. Dolphins ‘D’
The Dolphins defense took a hit with the loss of Jason Taylor, but Miami returns its top three leading tacklers. Inside linebacker Channing Crowder led the Fins with 78 in 2007, while LB Joey Porter had 65 and CB Will Allen acquired 62. Something worthy of note is the familiarity Jets OL Alan Faneca should have with Porter. They played together in Pittsburgh two years ago. The tackle opposite Faneca is Damien Woody, who helps bolster an offensive line that until now was in desperate need. The Dolphins may be a new team, but make no mistake about it, the Dolphins haven’t gotten that much better in one off-season. Since he’s not fully comfortable yet, Favre will have to improvise, something at which he’s very good.
Jets ‘D’ vs. Dolphins ‘O’
There are a lot of question marks surrounding Miami’s offense. Sure, Chad Pennington is a solid starting QB with a smart head on his shoulders, but how protected that head will be against his former team is the issue. Nick Mangold said how much trouble NT Kris Jenkins gave him during training camp, so Dolphins center Samson Satele should expect hell from New York’s 3-4 scheme. DB’s Darrelle Revis and Kerry Rhodes have got to be licking their chops against a quarterback that they’ve casually faced hundreds of times.
After his preseason collapse against Washington when he missed not one, but two field goals that could have either tied or won the game for the Jets, K Mike Nugent certainly has a lot to prove. Leon Washington has looked solid returning kicks for Gang Green, but Ted Ginn is not someone to take lightly, especially now that he’s an NFL sophomore. K Jay Feely’s contract was terminated, and rookie K Dan Carpenter has to figure to be Nugent’s inferior.
Key to Victory
Down in Miami, it’s going to be hot. Whichever team can stay up in the heat definitely holds the edge. Looking at X’s and O’s though, it’s going to come down to whichever quarterback is more comfortable in his new system. Since he’s admitted to not being totally comfortable, it is fortunate for Jets fans that Brett Favre is good at improvising.
The air attack between these two teams is something to hype up, but in this match up, it may be overrated. Favre should throw at least a touchdown, but two interceptions can be expected as well. Watch for Thomas Jones (1119 yards in 2007) and Leon Washington (3 rushing and 3 kick return touchdowns in 2007) to be the difference makers for New York along with Gang Green's defense.
Jets 23 Dolphins 10
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