Monday, September 19, 2005

Thank You Miami
By Ben Valentine

Well nothing cures all ills like the Miami Dolphins. Take two fish, and call the doctor in the morning. So coming into this weekend I was certain the Jets would win. I rarely am ever certain of that, considering seemingly anything and everything goes wrong for them. But today I knew they would win. They always beat the Dolphins.

And they did not disappoint.

It wasn’t the prettiest of victories. I admit, the first play from scrimmage scared me quite a bit. But after the Jets came back and scored a TD, I only worried for about five minutes afterwards. That was after the Dolphins finally got on the board at the beginning of the fourth quarter. But once the Jets came back down and increased the lead to ten points again, I knew the game was over.

So what did this game show?

The Jets defense has been maligned this week, unfairly if you ask me. They played pretty well after the first quarter in KC, and only had their best player, John Abraham, on the field for a third of the plays. Thankfully, they looked eager to prove their doubters wrong. Abraham showed what a force he can be, abusing whatever Miami tackles attempted to block him as he constantly harassed Gus Frerotte. The rest of the Jets front four dominated the line of scrimmage, completely shutting down the Dolphins run game. Ronnie Brown was a non-factor. The Dolphins passing game looked anemic against the Jets secondary, outside of Randy McMichael. Credit defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson for a well called game. The Fish’s offense learned that the rejects on the Denver Broncos defense aren’t the norm in the NFL.

The Jets offensively looked tentative. While the defense bounced back nicely, suffering no apparent ill effects, it’s clear the game in KC hurt the confidence of the offense. The play calling in the red zone was the most conservative I’ve seen since Paul Hackett was sending plays into Vinny Testaverde. I’m fairly confident if the Jets used the play action a few times in the second half, they could have picked up huge chunks of yardage in the passing game. As it was, when the Jets did open it up early in the fourth, they easily moved the ball on the Dolphins’ secondary.

Chad Pennington also looked unsettled. He was much better this week at diagnosing the blitz and avoiding the pressure, but his throws were frequently off target. Part of that could have been the reluctance of Mike Heimerdinger to throw the ball, thus preventing Chad from getting into a rhythm. When the Jets threw on that second touchdown drive, Chad clearly looked his best, going seven for seven. His ball did hang up there at times. It’s probably a sign his shoulder isn’t all the way back yet. That’s not something Jet fans want to hear. However, the Dolphins defense is still a pretty good unit. If it didn’t kill the Jets today paired with their simplified offensive play calling, then figure it shouldn’t hurt them in the long run.

1-1. It’s not entirely unexpected. But what is a surprise is that everyone else in the AFC East is .500 as well. It’s a fresh start. Everyone’s even again. The panic can stop now. Week One was just one week. So is Week Two. Take a deep breath Jet fans, enjoy the one of the sweetest wins of the year (as victories over the Dolphins always are) and get ready for the Jags in Week Three: a more talented version of the Dolphins.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben,

I think the most important point you made was the utter lack of play-action passing against Miami. It was just astonishing. When Pennington was drawing Montana references, other than his accuracy and general intelligence, his greatest attribute was his ability to fool defenses using play-action. Next to Peyton Manning, he was probably the best in the league at it. Now, the running game was hardly successful on Sunday but it seemed to me that Miami was jumping the run quite a bit, just what you want to run play-action. Heimerdinger needs to open up the play-calling a little bit, recovering shoulder or not.

--Bryan

2:49 PM  

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