The first matchup was a literal knockdown, drag out fight to the gritty end, and a 23-20 overtime victory by the New York Jets at Metlife Stadium. The game featured hard hits, player-injuries and a little “hot sauce” courtesy of comments made by HC Rex Ryan and some players from both sides.
Both Reggie Bush and Darrelle Revis were injured in this game, and the bad blood has carried over to this week’s showdown in Miami.
Players talking about wanting to take out other players, some calling out the abilities of others; this is turning an already heated rivalry up a notch. Both teams need to win this game to avoid the AFC East cellar, but five losses out of eight games would really reduce the chances of the Jets making the postseason. With the bye week coming up, the Jets should look at this game as a must-win. They need to get to 4-4 and grab that third divisional win. All the chatter is entertaining, but without the win… it’s just hallow noise.
The first half of the last contest was a series of missed tackles and gashing runs by Reggie Bush, before he was hit prior to the end of the second quarter by the Jets defensive enforcer, LaRon Landry. The effectiveness of the Dolphins running game was severely diminished in the second half. I believe if Bush was in for all four quarters, that game would’ve had a different outcome. Bush intends to play all four quarters of this game, so they really need to improve the tackling element of that defense. It’s been a problem all season, and with Bart Scott most likely out with a toe injury, it’s up to the rest of the front seven to do the job. I strongly believe the front seven of any defense should take stopping the run as their primary responsibility. When play after play, Yeremiah Bell and Landry are forced to come up and make tackles at the second level, it draws the team’s secondary closer and closer to the line, exposing the backend to a big play over the top. Just because Ryan Tannehill is a rookie, doesn’t mean he can’t take advantage of a depleted Jets secondary on a well-executed play-action pass. Brian Hartline still leads the team in receptions (29), but players like Davone Bess (28), Anthony Fasano (22) and Bush (17) are making plays in the passing game. As a team, they rank 27th in passing, which means stopping that running game and the short passing options will be keys to victory for the Jets.
The Jets passing game and Mark Sanchez looked a lot better last week than in recent weeks with the returns of Dustin Keller and Stephen Hill from injury. Jeremy Kerley has good speed and I see him as a talent as a slot receiver, but he’s been playing out of position and asked to do a bit much with the receiving core as depleted as it has been. Sanchez threw for 328 yards against the Patriots, and should look for more of the same against the Dolphins and their young DBs. Sean Smith (4th yr.) will be the most dangerous player in the Dolphins secondary, and he’ll be looking for Sanchez to make a mistake and toss him his third interception of the year. Jeff Cumberland is looking better as a pass-catcher and Keller is really showing an affinity for blocking in the run game. The addition of TE Konrad Rueland, who has lined up in the Jets backfield from time to time, can make the 2-TE set a dangerous formation. When you can run and pass out of the same formation effectively, it gives the defenses one more thing to think about.
The Jets will rely on Shonn Greene rushing the football as Joe McKnight (high ankle sprain) and Bilal Powell (shoulder) are still recovering from injuries and are doubtful for Sunday. Lex Hilliard looked fine in limited action against the Patriots, and hardly looks like a FB when rushing the ball. Jonathon Grimes has barely been used, even though the Jets have depth issues at RB with the injuries. We may see more of Hilliard and Grimes this week, and I hope they can fulfill expectations when called upon.
In the end, the Jets are going to need to play solid, disciplined football on defense and show some explosiveness and creativity on offense. You have a “great football player” in Tim Tebow according to Rex, so use him! It’s been three months of this talk with absolutely zero action during downs one thru three. He’s been an asset on fourth downs, converting fakes into first downs, but I thought he’d have more value than special teams superstar. In the last contest against the Dolphins, the Jets scored one offensive touchdown (a 7yd pass to Kerley); they’re going to need more from the offense. They can’t count on a pick six from Landry and field goals from Nick Folk all day to win the game. I have this team going 8-8 on the season, and so far, they look like a .500 team. Remember the season-opener against the Bills and those 48 points, or the 35 they hung on the Colts… that team should show up to Miami and not the one that got blanked at home against the Niners. If they can talk the talk, let’s see them walk the walk… with a little hot sauce on the side!
Tune into the N.Y. Jets in 30, with your hosts the Amazing Jinx Grand (@JGSportsTalk) and myself every Saturday at 4pm for game analysis, predictions, and a breakdown of the next week’s opponent.
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