Good afternoon Jets Fans,
12:50 PM: I’m coming to you live from East Rutherford, New Jersey, where we’re just over a half hour away from kickoff between the Jets and the Miami Dolphins.
Gang Green currently sits at 4-3, but a subpar 1-2 record in the AFC East has marked the club’s first half. The club is looking to avenge their loss 20 days ago to the Dolphins – a 31-27 thriller in South Beach – this time taking on Ronnie Brown and the Fins in the friendly confines of Giants Stadium.
Heading into kickoff, I can’t help but remember Coach Ryan’s press conference after the loss to Miami, in which he called the defensive performance “embarrassing”. It certainly wasn’t one for the record books – 413 total yards allowed, 151 coming on the ground. The two things the unit didn’t do well, according to Ryan, was put pressure on the quarterback and get off the blocks put on the by the offensive line of Miami. I’m interested to see how well they can do those things in the early going against Miami’s Wildcat offense.
Also, there was a big body wearing #77 for the Jets on the defensive front the last time these two teams played. Kris Jenkins won’t be on the field today, having been lost for the season with a torn ACL. How much will that effect the Jets’ defense against a predominantly running offense? It’s certainly a storyline to watch as the game progresses.
As for the offense, watch for a big game from Braylon Edwards. Miami cornerback Will Allen was lost for the season with an ACL injury, so the Dolphins will be starting two rookie corners, Sean Smith and Vontae Davis. If the Jets can keep Mark Sanchez upright, we might see a big game from the Jets’ new deep threat.
Staying on the wide receiver front, Jerricho Cotchery will play today, so it will be interesting to see how much impact he will have, both on the game and on the targets for David Clowney.
We’re just about ten minutes away from kickoff, so be sure to check back throughout the game for my thoughts on the action live from the Meadowlands.
1:00 PM: Miami has won the toss and elected to defer. Interesting decision by the Fins – why put your defense on the field to start the game, when your offense dominated the Jets’ D three weeks ago? Establishing your offense from the opening snap could take the crowd out of the game. But we’ll see how it plays out.
1:03 PM: Leon Washington’s replacement, Justin Miller, gets off to a nice start with a 27-yard return. Keep an eye on the return game for the Jets today – we’ll get a look at just how much they’re going to be missing Leon.
1:08 PM: Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne narrowly misses a deep ball, a play in which cornerback Donald Strickland was beaten. What’s most important, the Jets sent pretty heavy pressure on Henne, and it was picked up superbly. It is imperative the Jets get to the second-year signal caller when they bring pressure, or he’s going to start hitting those deep balls for big plays.
1:15 PM: Two series on offense, 0-2 on third down conversions. The Dolphins are doing a nice job of getting pressure on Sanchez in the early going, forcing him to make quick throws. It also looks like the Jets are making a concerted effort to get tight end Dustin Keller into the flow of the game early – he’s already been targeted twice, with one going for a completion.
1:19 PM: Two series on offense for Miami, and no Wildcat? The Fins have been lining up in traditional formations in the early stages of this game, committing to the inside running game. Are they going after the hole left by the departure of Kris Jenkins? Sione Pouha is here to remind them he’s a formidable backup, stuffing a run on second down which lead to another 3-and-out.
1:28 PM: Mark Sanchez just got buried on a third-down play by Dolphins safety Gibril Wilson and the rookie was slow to get up after the play was over. He appears to be ok on the sideline, but it’s something to keep an eye on as the game progresses.
1:32 PM: We finally get a glimpse of the Wildcat, and the Jets defense stops the two plays for a total of one yard. We’re currently in a battle of punters, with Steve Weatherford of the Jets and Brandon Fields of the Dolphins doing their best to win the battle of field position.
1:39 PM: We’re at the end of one with goose eggs on the board for both teams. It’s clear we’re in for a grind-it-out, smash-mouth game. Both teams are committed to the power running game through the first frame, with the Jets utilizing the short to intermediate passing game early on. Dustin Keller is having a nice game so far, totaling three catches in the first quarter.
1:41 PM: Braylon Edwards checks in with a 25-yard reception from Sanchez. Longest offensive play of the day so far. The Jets can take advantage of Edwards’ matchups all game long for gains like this, but it seems as though they have committed to running the football until they’re forced to throw.
1:45 PM: Sanchez nearly gives the Dolphins a touchdown as his pass intended for Jerricho Cotchery goes right through the hands of Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith at the Miami one. Jay Feely comes on to cap the drive with a 23-yard field goal, giving the Jets a 3-0 lead. In a low-scoring game like this, touchdowns can put the opposition in a serious hole. When the Jets are actually able to get the ball into the Red Zone, they’ve got to capitalize with six points, not three.
1:48 PM: Good to see Feely getting after it on the kickoff coverage. Excellent tackle there by the Jets kicker at the Dolphins 25.
1: 5o PM: Espn.com is reporting Jets safety Kerry Rhodes got into a pre-game shoving match with trash-talking Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter about a half hour prior to game time. In a shocking turn of events, Porter said something to Rhodes, starting the altercation.
1:54 PM: Huge sack by David Harris on an all-out blitz by the Jets defense on a third-down, forcing a Miami punt. That’s two sacks thus far, two more than they had in the teams’ previous meeting. They’re already getting better pressure with their blitz packages, making it tough for Chad Henne to even set his feet to throw. You don’t want to get into third-and-long situations with the Jets defense on the other side of the field, and unlike in their first meeting, the unit is putting the heat on Chad Henne.
2:06 PM: Gibril Wilson says hello to Sanchez once again with another big-time hit on the qb, forcing a punt. The Dolphins have finally swung the field position battle, starting this drive from the Jets 45 yard line. You can feel the momentum shifting in Miami’s direction as they start this drive.
2:10 PM: A botched Wildcat play is stuff by the Jets, but the Dolphins get 10 crucial yards back with a completion to tight end Anthony Fasano, putting Miami back in field goal range. The 48-yarder barely clears the crossbar, knotting the score at 3-3 with 1:55 left. Let’s see whether or not the Jets offense comes out throwing to try and get into field goal range, and see if they can’t go into halftime with a lead.
2:15 PM: The Jets are handed a gift as the Dolphins kick the ball out of bounds, putting the ball at their own 40. And Mark Sanchez promptly fumbles the snap on first down, fires one into the ground on second down, and hits David Clowney on a four-yard route on third-and-five. Huge opportunity wasted for the Jets, as there’s still 1:09 left on the clock, plenty of time for the Dolphins to execute a scoring drive with two timeouts.
2:19 PM: The Dolphins appear willing to run out the clock, handing off on the first two downs of the drive. The Jets smartly call a timeout before third-and-five, attempting to get the ball back. But it is for naught as the Dolphins come away with the first down with 24 seconds to play. The offense sputters from there, with the Jets calling timeout with four seconds to play.
Here’s where you miss Leon Washington. The Dolphins are set to punt, and you could toss #29 out there to return it and see if he can’t hit you a home run. Jim Leonhard is solid as a punt returner, but he’s not Leon Washington.
2:20 PM: The Dolphins elect to go for it on fourth down, and throw a long incomplete pass to run out the clock. At the half, the score stands tied at 3-3. The Jets heard a small chorus of boos as they left the field, in large part due to the subpar play of their quarterback.
2:37 PM: We’re set to go for the second half, with the Dolphins getting the ball to start.
If the Jets are going to come out on top in this must-win divisional contest, Mark Sanchez simply has to play better. The defense is doing an outstanding job of containing the Wildcat, and putting pressure on Chad Henne. But Sanchez is routinely shooting his team in the foot. He has to have a better second half, or these Jets will be right back to .500 in 30 minutes of play.
2:39 PM: The fourth sack of the day for the Jets D forces a punt, giving the offense the ball at their own 49-yard line. They have to come away with points on this drive, if for no other reason than to give their defense some confidence that they’re going to score them some points.
2:47 PM: Jay Feely is in The Zone. Laying the wood on kickoff coverage, and now hitting 55-yard field goals to give the Jets the lead. It’s 6-3 Jets with 10:24 remaining. The play ties the longest field goal in franchise history, as well as Feely’s career long.
While the Jets take the lead, they just gained 14 yards on seven plays. Sanchez missed another open receiver, bringing his numbers on the day to 8-17 for 54 yards. Not exactly fantasy football starter-type numbers.
2:50 PM: Ted Ginn Jr. reminds us all that he may be out of favor in Miami, but he’s still really fast. The Ohio State product takes the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to the house to put the Dolphins up 10-6. And just like that, the Dolphins have a lead.
It’s now time for the offense to put together a sustained drive, or this game could slowly slip away from the Jets here in the third quarter.
2:57 PM: The Jets’ rookies are making it tough for Gang Green to have any shot in this game. Rookie running back Shonn Greene coughs up the football, the fumble being picked up by defensive end Jason Taylor and taken 48 yards to the end zone, giving the Dolphins their second non-offensive touchdown of the quarter. The score stands at 17-6, and with the way the Jets offense is playing, things are not looking good for a comeback.
3:01 PM: The offense runs the ball on first down, to a chorus of boos from the home crowd. I understand you want the team to throw because they’re down, but when your quarterback can’t hit the Atlantic Ocean right now, what exactly should they do?
3:04 PM: A gift for the Jets as Davone Bess muffs the punt from Weatherford, which Gang Green recovers deep in Miami territory. If they want to get back into this game, they need a touchdown here. Badly. Let’s see if they put it in Sanchez’s hands.
3:07 PM: Sanchez waltzes into the end zone from a yard out on a naked bootleg to bring the Jets to within four at 17-13. The team had opted to go for two, but a costly false start penalty on the conversion attempt negated the choice for Rex Ryan.
Suddenly we have a ball game on our hands, and the defense immediately becomes relevant again. With 18 and a half minutes to play in the game, this one’s still anybody’s ball game. The turnover and subsequent touchdown have allowed to Jets to stick to their game plan of running the football – there’s still plenty of time on the clock.
3:12 PM: Did I mention that Ted Ginn Jr. is really fast? Another special teams breakdown provides another kickoff return TD for Ginn, this one good for 101 yards. Just when the Jets climb back into the game, another unit has a breakdown. This one is a killer for the Jets – they had all the momentum in this game, the crowd was back into it, and Ginn has silenced them once again. The lead is back to 11, in the blink of an eye.
3:15 PM: Huge play for the Jets on the opening play of the drive. A 53-yard completion to Cotchery puts the Jets in business at the Dolphins 22 yard line.
3:16 PM: Braylon Edwards is a man. The wideout carries two defenders into the end zone after catching the ball at the one, willing his way to a touchdown and bringing the Jets back to within 5. The Jets burn a timeout before the two-point conversion, which could prove costly as the game winds down.
3:18 PM: The two-point try is no good, leaving the score at 24-19. What do you think the fan reaction will be if Ted Ginn Jr. is actually tackled on this kickoff attempt? I’m going with a standing ovation.
3:32 PM: We might have just seen the dagger from the Dolphins offense. A 13-play, 7:47 drive ends with a touchdown pass from Henne to Joey Haynos, putting the Dolphins on top 30-19. It’s going to be extremely tough for the Jets to mount a comeback in this one – They’d need two more touchdowns to win it at this point, or a TD with a two-point conversion and a field goal to tie. With 8:48 remaining, there’s still enough time, but big plays are going to need to happen for Gang Green to climb into this one.
3:42 PM: And just like that, the Jets are right back in the game. A shoestring catch by Dustin Keller caps the six-play, 81-yard drive, bringing the Jets back to within five. The two-point conversation would have been good on a completion to Wallace Wright, but another costly penalty negated the conversion. The following attempt from seven yards out went by the boards, leaving the Jets five points back with 5:52 to play
The defense needs a big stop on this series, and they need it early. Too much time off the clock will force the Jets to have to throw, putting the ball in Sanchez’s hands. While he’s been much better in the second half, I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be forcing him to throw the ball down the field late in this game.
3:49 PM: There’s plenty of reasons why the Jets wanted Bart Scott this offseason. But perhaps the biggest reason is that the guy makes big-time plays in big spots. He’s come up with another one here, sacking Henne on a crucial third down, forcing a punt. It’s also given the Jets great field position, with the offense taking over on their own 45. We’re getting down to crunch time, let’s see how Sanchez reacts.
3:57 PM: Play of the game for the Jets as Dustin Keller comes up with a huge 16-yard catch with a defender mauling him on a third and ten. The catch places the ball at the Dolphins 12 at the two minute warning.
What was great about the play was it gave us an opportunity to see all the great things Sanchez can do – buy time with his feet, make any throw on the field, thread the ball into traffic. The Jets are officially in business in the game’s final two minutes.
4:03 PM: A huge sack by Randy Starks sets up a fourth and 13 with 1:16 to go. Sanchez has been going to Dustin Keller all game, let’s see if he goes to him here.
4:05 PM: A desperation heave to the back of the end zone falls to the ground, as the Dolphins hold deep in their own territory preserving a 30-25 victory.
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