Keys to Victory: A Formula for Beating the Jets

Unfortunately the blog had to take a little bit of a hit this week, as all my procrastination near the end of my college semester finally caught up to me. That’s something that won’t happen often, as I usually like to post something just about every day. But nevertheless, I thought I should at least get in my keys to victory for this always pivotal division rivalry.

The Dolphins’ slim playoff hopes all but ended on Chad Henne’s third interception against the Browns last week, but as long as they’re still mathematically alive, Dolphin fans have no choice really, but to keep on believing. After all, we did see these New York Jets sneak into the playoffs last season only a couple weeks after Rex Ryan conceded in a press conference that they weren’t going to the playoffs that year.

Although, the Dolphins have no choice but to win their remaining four games and get a whole lot of help along the way, if they can take this thing one week at a time and keep their slim hopes alive for at least a couple more games, we could be in for, at the very least, an exciting finish to the season. And while an exciting finish doesn’t guarantee anything, and in all likelihood won’t result in a playoff berth, anything beats meaningless December football.

A game against the Jets will always have plenty of meaning to it regardless of the standings, but a loss tomorrow in the Meadowlands would officially end any small hopes the Dolphins have and would turn the final three games of the season into preseason like exhibitions. So let’s see what the Dolphins have to do to avoid that fate.

Put the ball in Sanchez’s hands
If there is anything to be excited about in Dolphin land these days, it’s how dominate this front seven has been against the run in their last two games. The Dolphins engulfed Darren McFadden and the formally second overall rated Raiders’ rushing attack two weeks ago, by holding them to a mere 16 yards on 12 carries. Then, last week, the Dolphins held the second coming of Larry Csonka, Peyton Hillis, to 57 yards on only 3.2 yards per carry.

For the Dolphins defense to continue to quietly emerge as one of the league’s elite units, they are going to need another big day from their front seven. The Jets currently rank fourth in the league with nearly 150 yards on the ground per game. With the weather projecting to be cold, wet, and windy, the Jets will likely make a concentrated effort to pound the football early and often.

If the Dolphins can shut down the run off the bat, though, Mark Sanchez will be asked to make some big plays for the Jets’ offense. We saw last week how much he struggled when the Jets were forced to become pass happy playing from behind. Sanchez typically doesn’t play well in poor conditions, and the Dolphins could sure use a few turnovers to jumpstart an inconsistent offense. Now, let’s just hope the Dolphins’ DB’s can hang on to the football.

Chad Henne: continue stellar play against the Jets
Say what you want about how inconsistent Chad Henne has been, but two of his best performances as a pro have come against the Jets. Of course I’m referring to last year’s epic last minute drive on Monday Night Football and Week 3 this season when he threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns.

Unfortunately, the Jets will have Darrelle Revis back this time around, but fortunately for the Dolphins, Brandon Marshall will likely make his return from a hamstring injury that sidelined him two weeks. In a couple other injury blows, Brian Hartline and Vernon Carey didn’t make the trip up to New York, so Henne will be without his other starting receiver and starting right tackle. But in order for the Dolphins to win on Sunday, we will likely need to see another big game and bounce back performance from Henne that just may save his job in Miami as the starting quarterback.

We know the Dolphins probably won’t be able to establish much of Ronnie and Ricky against the Jets’ defense which ranks third against the run. So Chad Henne is going to need to play consistent, mistake free football in order for the Dolphins to have a realistic chance at winning this game. Not exactly the easiest person to trust nowadays, but there is no doubting how much the Dolphins need him tomorrow evening.

Have a big day on special-teams
Thinking back to last year’s win in the Meadowlands, it wouldn’t even have been possible, if it weren’t for a couple jaw dropping Ted Ginn Jr. kickoff returns. Obviously, we probably should never expect that type of performance ever again from the Dolphins on special-teams, especially this year when they have been disastrous at times, but a solid outing in the kicking game will do wonders for the Dolphins’ chances.

I would love to see Nolan Carroll finally break out for a big return, as he’s been oh so close on several occasions, but in reality, I would be perfectly content if the Dolphins limit the impact Brad Smith has on this game. Smith is one of the league’s top kickoff return men this season, with four 40+ yard returns and one touchdown.

With how poorly the offense is playing, the Dolphins must keep this game low scoring. Their defense is certainly capable of doing that, but one or two mishaps on special-teams would likely be too much to overcome.