The road from New York down I95 is a long one. The road trip back, albeit through the air, would be an even longer one for the New York Jets if they board that plane with a loss. The Miami Dolphins will try and deliver just that tonight at kick-off (which for the first time in 15 years, I will miss a Dolphins game. BOOOOO!!! The Chat room will still be open and I will try and follow there.) For the Dolphins, the road they find themselves on is offering a special rate, an open road to a chance at the division. See the Phins opened 0-3 which is not good. They one their first game last week to a Buffalo Bills team who put up a whopping 6 points on the Cleveland Browns yesterday. So last week doesn’t mean much.
With the Jets entering the weekend at 3-1 tied at the top with the New England Patriots at 3-1, the Phins know they are facing an uphill battle. Especially when you factor in the New Orleans Saints in two weeks (the Phins have a bye after this game), and then a trip to New York to face, yep, the Jets again. But yesterday, something happened on the way to the party. The Denver Broncos handed the Dolphins a present. A redemption card to wipe part of their first month away. It came in the form of an overtime FG that handed the New England Patriots another loss on the season. So, after 5 weekends of football, the Patriots are 3-2, the Jets 3-1, and the Dolphins are at 1-3. A win tonight, and the Phins are right back in it.
The Dolphins can move to within one game of the division lead, yes, I know it’s still early in the season but in this division, tie-breakers are the norm at the end of the year and with the Phins facing the Jets twice early on and the Patriots once, those games become critical. Especially after starting the season 0-3. The Dolphins have a window of opportunity to pull within one game early in this season and if they do that, watch out. This team started winning last year and didn’t stop. For this team, it’s all about confidence and improvement. They are confident that week in and week out, they will do just that.
Tonight game has some interesting side notes to it. Already, Rex Ryan the Jets HC has said that Braylon Edwards will play which means that the Phins CB’s need to be ready. Regardless of whether Edwards tends to drop balls or not, he is a very legitimate threat…even for only a handful of workouts with his new team. In addition, Rex Ryan is the only coach last year that successfully came up with a game plan to beat the Dolphins Wild Cat.
The Jets are starting a rookie QB in Mark Sanchez and while Sanchez has been up and down as an NFL QB, he has been reliable as an NFL rookie QB. For the Dolphins they will be starting a “why do I want to call him a rookie?” Chad Henne. Henne is in his 2nd year obviously but has taken fewer game snaps than Sanchez. Off the field, Henne has the preparation edge, on the field, Sanchez has the most work. So really who has the edge? If you get down to the nitty gritty, it would be the Jets.
Sanchez has something that the Dolphins don’t have. A very high-profile, high-priced, all-pro offensive line. They are very good. The Dolphins have a very good front defensive line so the trench battle is where it’s going to be fought and won. The question is can the Dolphins offensive line, which is not a brutish force that fans expected to see from a Bill Parcells team, stop the rampaging defensive front of the Jets? They are powerful, quick, and hard hitting. The Dolphins offensive line will be hard pressed to find another NFL team that hits harder than they will find tonight.
The Dolphins defense is no slouch either and they figure to blitz the young QB often. In fact, they could conceivably blitz every other play if not every play. Rattling Sanchez early will put him on his heels and make him throw bad passes, it’s the same thing that the Jets will do to Henne. Both QB’s will be looking for the dump off guy early and it’s a question as to which team scores a pick 6 first.
This has the makings of one of the Jets/Dolphins classic Monday Night games written all over it but this time around, it seems that instead of a high scoring affair, field goals could be the deciding factor in a low scoring contest. A defensive battle is brewing and the door to the Dolphins season is still wide open.