Jets 31 Dolphins 23
If you would have told me heading into last night’s division showdown that Chad Henne was going to throw for 363 yards and 2 touchdowns and Brandon Marshall was going to have his breakout game as a Fin with 166 receiving yards and a score I would have prematurely began to celebrate the win.
But so much for that new and improved Dolphins’ defense. After dominating a hapless Bills offense in Week 1, and taking advantage of a turnover plagued Vikings’ offense in Week 2, we probably bought into this defense as one of the league’s best way too soon.
All the credit in the world to the Jets offense, though. I have been critical of Mark Sanchez many times before, but he forced me to eat those words last night. If Sanchez can play this well for the rest of the season, with that running game and defense, watch out league, the Jets are every bit as good as they say they are.
Perhaps even more concerning was the way the Jets offensive line was plowing right through Miami towards the end of that game. Offenses are starting to find where the Dolphins’ weakness on defense is. The Jets were attacking the perimeter all night long, and as solid as Cameron Wake and Koa Misi look rushing the passer, they can’t contain the edge right now.
In coverage, Jason Allen sure came back down to earth in a hurry, didn’t he? After two stellar weeks, he whiffed badly attempting to tackle Braylon Edwards, who basically went untouched for a 67 yard touchdown, then cost the defense a chance to get off the field when he played that Edwards’ sideline grab terribly considering he had Clemons helping over the top, and gave the Jets a fresh set of downs on a pass interference call in the endzone a few plays later.
Earlier in the game, with Edwards benched for the first quarter, and Vontae Davis locking down Jerricho Cotchery, it was pretty obvious who Sanchez was going to. But the Dolphins still couldn’t stop it. Dustin Keller absolutely ripped the Dolphins to pieces on those first two Jets touchdowns, and put them in a pretty deep hole to start the game.
Yeremiah Bell is a fantastic safety playing in the box, and is usually a splendid open field tackler (even though he embarrassingly couldn’t bring down Brad Smith on a wildcat gainer of 16 yards on 3rd and 15), but he can’t cover. Shiancoe roughed him up last week, and Keller flat out abused him last night.
I know the Dolphins want Karlos Dansby up near the line of scrimmage making plays, but when they face elite tight ends I don’t know what other options they have at this point but to put Dansby on them. He’s flashed fantastic cover skills when given the opportunity, and when Channing Crowder returns to hopefully save the run defense, maybe Dansby should drop back into coverage more often. They could continue to give Sean Smith looks on tight ends, but I just don’t think he’s physical enough to get the job done.
Now that we got all the finger pointing out of the way, by no means is it time to panic. The Jets, Dolphins, and Patriots are all tied at 2-1 with plenty of football left to be played, including two games against the Pats, and another crack at the Jets in the Meadowlands. Sure, it sucks losing to them, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. They are a great football team, and the Dolphins can’t beat them every time. This is an intense rivalry, it’s near impossible to pull off four straight wins.
And how about your quarterback? Revis or no Revis, the Jets still have one of the best pass defenses in the league. Outside of that panic run on the final drive, Henne was as cool as a cucumber in the pocket and was rocketing the ball all over the field. Marshall was the beast the Dolphins paid him to be, as it finally looked like Dan Henning was taking the leash off the passing game.
Speaking of Henning, though, those wildcat calls were riduculous. With Henne as hot as he was, you don’t call that Ronnie pass, and especially not that reverse to Cobbs. Those were drive killers, and if he continued to put the ball in Henne’s hands, who knows how the outcome would have changed.
I’m not willing to say abandon the wildcat, it’s still useful as a power running formation. But get rid of all the trickery, and only use it when the offense is struggling to get something going, not when Henne and his receivers are clicking on all cylinders.
Finally, special teams also haunted the Dolphins last night. The blocked punt obviously killed any momentum they had, and conceded three points to the Jets, but giving up 37 yards per kick return is completely unacceptable. Brad Smith is a very solid returner, yes, but I don’t care if it’s Devin Hester in 06′, you can’t let offenses start with that kind of field position.
All in all, a very difficult loss to take, considering the Dolphins could have really began to distance themselves from the AFC East. Now, though, the Jets have the obvious advantage having already beaten the Pats as well. I know it’s only Monday, but it’s time to get over this loss in a hurry. Next week could easily make or break the Dolphins season. In the AFC East you can’t afford to lose back-to-back games, especially to your biggest competitors within the division, and definitely not when both of those games are at home.
It’s a hard thing to do, but let’s put this one behind us. Patriots week is here, and Monday Night Football is always a good place to capture some season altering momentum.