There are more side dishes to this weeks Miami vs. NY Jets game than Rex Ryan has available at his favorite buffet. Forget about Jason Taylor returning home, forget about the fact that Rex Ryan has yet to beat Tony Sparano, forget about Brandon Marsahall’s history of owning Antonio Cromartie. Both sides could be completely eradicated by injuries and this would still be a fist fight. With the game only a few days away, it’s time for the first of two seasonal “Crop Reports”.
The Dolphins enter the prime time showdown at 2-0 but the brash Jets are only a game back after knocking off New England last week. Some believe that facing a winless Jets team would have been worse, but make no mistake, there is nothing worse…or better…than playing the New York Jets.
The Dolphins and the Jets have struggled on offense despite the Mark Sanchez career game last weekend. While they are similar offensively in terms of their seasonal production, defensively they are similar as well. This game is set up for a defensive battle that could see that side of the ball for both teams score more points than their offenses. They say that whoever wins the turnover battle in a game has the best chance to win. In this game, that stands very true.
Miami’s offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage last week putting 90 plus yards on the Minnesota front in the first half alone. They will try and do the same thing this week against another formidable opponent. The Jets will try and keep the Dolphins offense in check and by preventing the Phins from running, they will put the Dolphins into a position of passing when they don’t want to. If that happens, the Jets will try and tee off on Chad Henne.
Jason Taylor is dinged up but he will play. Coming off the edge rush against Vernon Carey, Taylor will try and harass the Dolphins third year QB every chance he gets. For the Dolphins, Vernon Carey is the key to the teams offensive success. He will be asked to open running lanes on the right side guard/tackle gap and protect Henne from the rushing end.
If Carey can keep Taylor in check, the Dolphins offense could see decent production. The Jets are without NT Kris Jenkins who suffered a season ending ACL tear in week one and they are also without LB Calvin Pace who expects to miss at least one if not two more games.
While the injuries to both Pace and Jenkins are huge, the talk surrounding the Jets defense this week is the status of CB Darrel Revis. Revis is listed as out and the Jets say that he will not make the trip to Miami. Rex Ryan can change that status Sunday prior to the game and the Dolphins are preparing two game plans. One with Revis and one without.
Offensively look for Miami to try and exploit Antonio Cromartie who thus far has had a less than stellar season. Cromartie has been flagged for pass interference more than any other defender on the Jets squad and has a tendency to put himself out of position often enough to draw holding calls as well. The Dolphins should try and exploit this coverage whether he is lined up on Marshall or number two WR Brian Hartline. The Jets are expected to roll over coverage on Marshall.
When the Jets have the ball, Mike Nolan will use his defenders to put as much pressure on Mark Sanchez as they can get. Much like they did with Brett Favre. Sanchez is still young and raw and the Dolphins should have more than a couple of opportunities to pick off some passes or at the very least keep the passing lanes occupied.
Jason Allen will start his third game this season opposite Vontae’ Davis and will line up against Jericho Cotchery or Brad Smith. Smith may hold the key to some Jet offensive success.
The Jets have begun to use Smith as an option QB out of their version of the Wild Cat and that will put the Dolphins in a position of having to cover the WR’s when Smith is behind center. Smith, a former QB can sling the ball out of the formation and is not afraid to take hits getting the option to work.
That option target will likely be the resurgent RB LaDainian Tomlinson who has found new life in New York. Tomlinson resembles more of who he used to be than who has been over the last two seasons and when he is not in the game, the speedy Shonn Greene will be. The Dolphins will have to maintain their outside containment to allow the linebackers to make tackles.
Offensively for the Jets, Center Nick Mangold is listed as questionable after suffering a shoulder injury last week against the Patriots. He has not participated in the physical practices this week. It will be Paul Solia’s job to handle the upward push against Mangold or his replacement.
When it comes down to it, the Dolphins and the Jets are a beat down. Both teams know that a win puts them ahead in the tie-breakers later in the year. Win or lose later this season and the head to head match-ups won’t matter, division record will. The Dolphins need this game as do the Jets. But it will be another unit that could impact this game even more than either offense or defense.
The Dolphins organization are promoting a theme of “Painting Miami Orange” . The sell out crowd will need to stay sharp the entire game until that final whistle blows and keep the Jets offense from hearing their own cadence. The louder the noise is, the more opportunity for the Jets to make errors on the line of scrimmage. The Dolphins fans are also being asked to “HOWL” on key 3rd down defensive plays to “Feed the Wolf”.
In other words, the Dolphins are asking the fans to get involved early and stay late. This is not going to be a party, it’s going to be a boxing match…and it should be a good one.
Prediction: Miami 13 – NYJ – 10 (late field goal wins it)