Tonight’s NFL match up between the AFC East rival New York Jets and Miami Dolphins should be a great night of football.
Leading up to this game, the Jets have made a pretty big splash with the surprise acquisition of Cleveland Brown WR Braylon Edwards, while the Dolphins have remained surprisingly stoic following the big trade news. Publicly, Miami claims the new addition to the Jets line up makes very little difference to them or how they will prepare for this game.
Miami had better be planning their collective butts off if they hope to win this match up. The Dolphins aren’t exactly playing badly on defense, but they’ve had some issues in the secondary. There has been some pretty bad tackling in the secondary this year and their linebackers have been getting killed by opposing tight ends all season.
The addition of Edwards changes the landscape in New York significantly. At 6′3″ and 215 pounds, Edwards is the Jets tallest receiver and a legitimate deep threat that cannot be ignored. His presence will force the Miami defense to show less 8 and 9 man fronts which should open things up tremendously for the Jets running game. Of course, there is always the possibility that Miami chooses to stack the box anyway and force the rookie to prove he can get it to Edwards. To get the running game going against this Miami defense will definitely require Mark Sanchez to step up his offensive production with fewer mistakes.
The ball is your friend Mark. Protect your friend.
Edwards comes into this game with a lot to prove after a miserable sub-par performance last season, that included a ton of worrisome drops. Already wowing them at Jets practices this past week, Edwards gives the appearance of a man who has had a weight lifted from his shoulders. This, coupled with a relatively easy transition into the New York offense thanks to playing a similar system in Cleveland, tells me Edwards will be loose and ready to deal in Miami. Plus you can’t ignore Edwards history of putting on a show during prime time games. His three 100-yard receiving games last season all came during prime time games.
Look for Edwards to really step up his game if Jerricho Cotchery cannot play tonight. Cotchery is heading into this game with a hamstring injury and is currently listed as ‘questionable’ on the team injury report. He will be a game time decision.
The upgraded pass offense should help tremendously with the running game but the Jets still face quite the up hill battle against the Miami rush defense. The Dolphins are allowing a measly 61 yards per game rushing this season. The Jets have the league’s No. 9 ranked rushing offense and are currently averaging 130.5 yards per game on the ground, most of which have come in the later minutes of the game.
Thomas Jones has not looked quite like the guy who was carving up the AFC last season but I think we will see an increase in his productivity now that rookie RB Shonn Greene has turned a few heads and maybe even lit a small fire under Jones. During the New Orleans game Greene only had four touches for 23 yards but averaged a fantastic 5.75 yards per carry that day. Greene was impressive as he ripped off consecutive carries of 9 and 7 yard gains, turning heads in the process. Only a tweaked ankle kept the rookie from peeling off more yards.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets defense is facing the number one run offense in the league. The Miami run game is averaging 183.5 rushing yards per game and an unbelievable 5.0 per carry on the ground. Dolphin running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams have 72 carries for 369 yards and 248 yards on 50 carries respectively. The Jets will definitely have their hands full on Monday night against the run.
The darling of last season, Miami’s Wildcat formation has become the bread and butter of this Dolphins team. Taking advantage of defenders over pursuing the ball and getting themselves out of position, Miami may find the Wildcat rather tame as Rex Ryan’s defense is very disciplined and unlikely to over pursue or get out of position too often.
New York’s ability to shut down Miami’s prolific running game will be the key to their victory. Miami lost veteran and former Jets starting QB Chad Pennington to injury for the season and possibly more, leaving the ball in the inexperienced hands of Chad Henne. Henne led his team to a victory in his NFL debut as a starter but that was against the lowly Buffalo Bills. This week Henne is going up against CB Darrelle Revis and one of the best defenses in the league. They are allowing just 14.2 points and 278 yards of total offense per game.
Fresh off a 4 game suspension for violating the leagues PED policy, linebacker Calvin Pace is back on the field and will help bring enormous pressure on Henne from all ends. I find it hard to imagine Henne having much success with the adversity he faces this week. Expect to see Rex Ryan blitz Henne hard and often in an effort to force mistakes from the QB.
There is no doubt in my mind that Bart Scott and crew have been salivating at thought of getting all over Henne. Using mostly four-man pressures, Henne was sacked six times last week by the Bills. Look for the Jets to send five, six or even seven rushers after Henne in an effort to keep him in as many third-and-long situations as possible. The Jets defense should be able to deliver several hits on the QB with this game plan.
So what do all these numbers and situations add up to? I predict it will add up to another notch in the win column for these Jets. In the end, I believe the Jets defense will be too much for Miami. The New York defense has only allowed three touchdowns in 46 possessions and that’s just unbelievably good defense.
This will be a good, close game but the Jets will find a way to edge Miami out because they are just better.