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Preview: Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

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By Tom Kiss
Coming off an embarrassing performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Eric Mangini must deal with his first crisis as a head coach in the NFL. That crisis is dealing with the letdown of one of the franchises most lopsided losses in history. The Miami Dolphins prove to be a scary opponent as they are not as bad as their 1-4 record may look. The Dolphins – much like the Jets until the Jacksonville game – have been in every game they’ve played and aside from the 28 point performance by the Steelers in week 1, the Dolphins’ defense has been stellar. 

It will be interesting to see how the Jets come out on Sunday.  Laveranues Coles has been sniping about his playing time against Jacksonville.  Even though Mangini has said his time was limited because he wanted to get every receiver in the game, it was interesting that Coles did not play much after being called for an offensive pass interference call in the 3rd quarter. 
When Jets Have the Ball

Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will continue to attempt to create a running game this week. Rookie Leon Washington was the only bright spot from last week’s debacle, rushing for 101 yards on 23 carries (though much of that was in the second half when the game clearly over). Look for Washington to get some touches as a result of his explosiveness, but Kevan Barlow should still be the featured back this week. The Dolphins’ defense has been giving up an average of about 84 yards per game on the ground and this will be the focus of the Jets attack.
The presence of Jason Taylor going up against rookie D’Brickashaw Ferguson will keep the Jets’ offense on the ground, as Mangini must be concerned about the pressure he and the rest of the Dolphins defense will bring on Chad Pennington. Speaking of Pennington, the Jets can ill afford a bad day from their quarterback and team leader. Pennington played as badly as ever against a talented Jaguars’ defense, and although the Dolphins aren’t quite as good Jacksonville, they will provide a tough match up for the New York offense.

When the Dolphins Have the Ball
Much like the rest of the Jets’ opponents this season, the Dolphins will run the ball to death, and most likely effectively. The Jets’ defense has been atrocious all season long, and this will not be the week the week where this trend ends. Dolphins’ running back Ronnie Brown has yet to breakout this season, though he has only had 20+ carries once this season. Look for Dolphins’ head coach Nick Saban to give Brown at least 22 carries this Sunday, taking pressure off Joey Harrington. This is the week where Ronnie Brown shows the league why he was such a highly touted prospect against a porous Jets defensive unit.

Unfortunately for the Jets, Daunte Culpepper will be sitting on the bench this week. Instead, Joey Harrington, the former No. 3 overall pick by the Detroit Lions, gets the nod this week. The Dolphins are better off with a healthy Harrington instead of an unhealthy Culpepper behind center. Harrington will try to work the ball off the run and get the ball into the hands of playmaking wide receiver Chris Chambers and tight end Randy McMichael.

Match up to Watch
Jason Taylor vs. D’Brickashaw Ferguson – The veteran pass rush specialist against the highly touted No. 4 overall pick is the most intriguing match up of this game. Taylor will have to wear a bib to bed to control the drool from dreaming about beating the inexperienced tackle. While Ferguson has showed signs of being a great player, he’ll have his hands full trying to protect Pennington this week.

Prediction
Miami 20 – 17

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