Entering Sunday night’s game against the Miami Dolphins no one truly knew what to expect from the New York Jets. Gang Green was coming off of an impressive victory over the New England Patriots, but endured several injuries and had to deal with a major off the field distraction with the Braylon Edwards arrest. Would the Jets be able to rally the troops and beat their fierce division rival to take the top spot in the AFC East? Or would Gang Green melt under the bright lights at Sun Life stadium?
Well the Jets in their 31-23 victory over the Dolphins showed that they are a united, resilient team that is focused on winning games no matter what is thrown at them. Here are some notes from the game.
1) Sanchez shines- Another great game for quarterback Mark Sanchez who went 15/28 for 256 yards, with 3 touchdowns. Sanchez displayed great command in the pocket, made very smart decisions and got the offense moving very early on in the game.
2) Aggressive playcalling- Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer established the tone early as the Jets came out passing the ball, putting the Dolphins back on their heels. Schotty got Sanchez comfortable early in the game and established Dustin Keller as a threat, which opened up the passing game. There were some questionable calls late in the game where the Jets should have ran the ball to kill the clock, but overall the game plan was aggressive with the intention of putting pressure on the Dolphins and winning the game.
3) Slauson struggles- The offensive line struggled at times on Sunday night, with left guard Matt Slauson leading the way with several penalties (one taking a touchdown off the board). At some point you just wish the Jets could find a way to bring in a veteran lineman to solidify the line before it truly hurts them.
4) Keller continues to impress- Tight end Dustin Keller had another huge game, 6 catches for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns. Keller is a match-up nightmare for any defense and placed his stamp on the game in the Jets first 2 scoring drives. It is evident that once the Jets get Dustin going, the rest of the passing game follows.
5) Edwards makes impact- After being benched for the first quarter, wide receiver Braylon Edwards came out with a fury scoring a long 67-yard touchdown. (Of course Braylon had to dance after the touchdown, which was borderline embarrassing) Edwards did an excellent job blocking in the running game and drew a big pass interference call late in the fourth quarter.
6) LT continues to make plays- LaDainian Tomlinson is quickly becoming the “go to” back in the Jets offense. LT is explosive out of the backfield, effective in the passing game, and very stout in pass protection. For whatever reason it appears Shonn Greene has lost some of his 2009 mojo.
7) Smith jack of all trades- Wide receiver Brad Smith had an excellent game on offense and special teams. Smith effectively ran the Jets version of the “wildcat” formation, which gave the Dolphins defense fits.
Before we look at the Jets defense lets keep one very important note in mind. The Jets are playing without their best run stuffer (Kris Jenkins), their best cover guy and arguably their best defensive player (Darrelle Revis), as well as their best pass rusher (Calvin Pace).
1) Secondary struggles- The New York Jets secondary was torched by Dolphin quarterback Chad Henne (26/44 363 2tds). The Jets sorely missed Darrelle Revis in this game as the secondary had their hands full with all of the Miami receivers. Rookie Kyle Wilson continues to get picked on, with the remainder of the secondary dealing with communication issues.
2) Taylor torments- Jason Taylor continues to play very well for the Jets and did a good job of applying pressure on the Miami offense. The Jets are asking Taylor to do a lot and it will be interesting to see how much better he can play once Calvin Pace comes back from injury.
3) Bend but don’t break- This was not one of the Jets best defensive performances as they gave up 436 yards of offense. Gang Green’s defense was clearly gassed in the second half of the game and had a hard time getting off of the field. To their credit, the unit made plays in the fourth quarter when it mattered most, something they did not do last year.
Last year the Dolphins stole a game from the Jets primarily due to their special teams play. On Sunday night the Jets played excellent on special teams, with a blocked punt and several long kick returns.
This is a huge win for the New York Jets. Mark Sanchez continues to play very well and it is great to see the Jets offense able to pick up the slack for a struggling defense. Gang Green has some work to do in terms of all of the penalties they are accumulating, before they truly come back to haunt them.
Overall a win is a win, and when it is against your division rival, on the road, it is even better.