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NFL Preview - N.Y. Jets (3-1) at Miami (1-3)
By Tony Moss, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - A pair of inexperienced quarterbacks will be in the spotlight at Land Shark Stadium on Monday night, when Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets visit Chad Henne and the Miami Dolphins in the latest renewal of a bitter AFC East rivalry.
In his first career primetime affair, Sanchez will be attempting to bounce back from the worst outing of his young NFL career.
The rookie (14-of-27, 138 yards) committed four turnovers in last week's 24-10 loss at the Saints, throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble on an afternoon (three INT, one fumble) in which he was also sacked four times.
On a day in which the Jets defense did a nice job handling Drew Brees (20- of-32, 190 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT), it was two major Sanchez mistakes that put the team in an ultimately insurmountable hole.
To start the second quarter, Sanchez lofted a ball that was intercepted by veteran safety Darren Sharper, who promptly returned the pick 99 yards for a New Orleans touchdown to make the score 10-0. Less than five minutes later, Sanchez was stripped of the football on a sack by Will Smith in the end zone, and the ball was recovered by Remi Ayodele in the end zone for another New Orleans score.
The loss was the Jets' first after a surprising 3-0 start, and dropped Gang Green into a tie with the Patriots for first place in the AFC East.
On Monday, Sanchez will see his receiving corps enhanced via the addition of former Pro Bowl wide receiver Braylon Edwards, obtained from the Browns on Wednesday in exchange for a package including draft picks, wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, and linebacker Jason Trusnik.
While New York experienced its first difficult setback of the year in Week 4, Miami began to get well after a disappointing 0-3 start.
In his first NFL start after Chad Pennington (shoulder) was placed on season- ending injured reserve, Henne was efficient and showed quality leadership in a 38-10 rout of the Buffalo Bills. The second-year signal-caller's numbers (14- of-22, 115 yards, 1 TD) may have been pedestrian, but were complementary to the work of a strong running game and playmaking defense.
The Dolphins (1-3) carried the ball 45 times for a whopping 250 yards, including a combined 200 yards and three scores from Ronnie Brown (20 carries, 115 yards, 2 TD) and Ricky Williams (16 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD).
On the other side, Bills quarterback Trent Edwards was sacked six times and threw three interceptions, and the Buffalo running game was a non-factor during a contest in which the Bills played from behind nearly throughout. Marshawn Lynch had just four yards on eight carries in his return from an NFL suspension.
For Tony Sparano's squad, Monday will begin an arduous stretch of games that continues with the Saints (10/25), Jets again (11/1) and Patriots (11/8).
The Jets hold a 46-39-1 lead in their all-time regular season series with Miami, including an unconventional split of last year's home-and-home. Gang Green was a 20-14 winner when it traveled to Dolphin Stadium in Week 1 of last season, and was officially knocked out of the AFC East race with a 24-17 loss to the Fins in Week 17. The latter result snapped the Jets' five-game win streak in the series, which includes three straight wins in Miami. The Dolphins last protected their home field against the Jets in 2005.
In addition to their regular season history, the Jets and Dolphins met in the 1982 AFC Championship, which went to Miami by a 14-0 score.
Sparano is 1-1 against the Jets as a head coach, while New York's Rex Ryan will be meeting both Sparano and Miami for the first time as a head coach.
WHEN THE JETS HAVE THE BALL
Despite the generally high marks Sanchez (744 passing yards, 4 TD, 5 INT) has received for his performance during his first four weeks as an NFL quarterback, the stark facts will show that the Jets are currently 27th in the league in passing offense (166.8 yards per game), and 24th overall (297.2 yards per game). While the attack is likely to revolve around the rushing exploits of Thomas Jones (229 rushing yards, 3 TD) and Leon Washington (181 rushing yards, 11 receptions) primarily, the acquisition of the deep threat Edwards (10 receptions with Cleveland) is undoubtedly an effort to assist both modes of travel. Edwards, a Pro Bowler during a 2007 season in which he caught 16 touchdown passes, had just 65 catches and three touchdowns over his final 20 games with the Browns, but should help free things up for other targets such as wideout Jerricho Cotchery (23 receptions, 1 TD) and tight end Dustin Keller (12 receptions, 1 TD). Cotchery posted game-highs with five catches for 71 yards against the Saints. A running game that has operated in fits and starts needs more production from Jones and Washington, who combined for just 65 ground yards on 17 carries against the Saints. The Jets line has allowed nine sacks of Sanchez through the first four weeks.
The Dolphins and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni have to hope that the playmaking ability the team showed in the win over the Bills will stick around awhile. Even with top pass rusher Joey Porter (6 tackles, 2 sacks) absent from the lineup with a hamstring problem, the club managed six sacks, with half of those going to first-year outside linebacker Cameron Wake (7 tackles) and another two to Dolphins legend Jason Taylor (8 tackles, 3 sacks). The efforts of the pass-rushing group helped aide a secondary that finished with its first three interceptions of the year, including two from cornerback Will Allen (16 tackles, 2 INT) and a 23-yard pick-six for first-round rookie CB Vontae Davis (4 tackles, 1 INT) in the first quarter. Porter is considered questionable for Sunday. The Dolphins have been generally stout against the run all year, ranking second in NFL rushing defense (61 yards per game) heading into Week 5 and third in yards allowed per carry (2.9). Inside linebackers Akin Ayodele (16 tackles) and Channing Crowder (14 tackles) have been a major part of the run- stopping effort, while nose tackle Jason Ferguson (6 tackles) and end Kendall Langford (10 tackles, 1 sack) are among those who have made their presence felt up front.
WHEN THE DOLPHINS HAVE THE BALL
Though they're certainly not the most explosive offense to come down the pike, the Dolphins have shown the ability to run the football better than any team in the league. Brown (369 rushing yards, 4 TD) and Williams (248 rushing yards, 8 receptions, 3 TD) have been at the forefront of an attack that ranks first in NFL rushing offense (183.5 yards per game) by a wide margin, and the team's abilities in short yardage have also yielded the team's most efficient team on both third-down (54.1 percent) and fourth-down (5-of-5). That said, with defenses likely gearing up to stop the run until further notice, it will be up to Henne (207 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) to make throws down the field to keep teams honest. Wideouts Ted Ginn (14 receptions), Davone Bess (20 receptions), and Greg Camarillo (11 receptions) are his best bets there, and tight end Anthony Fasano (4 receptions) is another possible presence for the team over the middle of the field. Camarillo was the team's most active pass-catcher in the Buffalo win, hauling in four balls for 42 yards, while rookie Brian Hartline (6 receptions, 1 TD) scored his first career touchdown on a five-yard pass from Henne in the third quarter. The Miami o-line has surrendered a somewhat troubling 13 sacks through four contests.
After easing into life as an NFL starter against a depleted Bills team, Henne can count on being attacked a great deal by a Jets defense that ranks fourth in the league in yards allowed (277.8 yards per game), fifth against the pass (177.5 yards per game), and first in opponents' completion percentage (51.0). Gang Green has only four sacks on the year, and didn't get to Brees at all last week, but the return of outside linebacker Calvin Pace from a four-game NFL suspension should assist their efforts to bring pressure from the outside. Inside linebacker David Harris (33 tackles, 1 INT) is currently the team's leader in sacks with two. Henne will also want to be careful in testing a fine secondary led by cornerback Darrelle Revis (16 tackles, 1 INT) along with safeties Kerry Rhodes (21 tackles) and Jim Leonhard (18 tackles). Rhodes had eight tackles against the Saints last week, while Revis broke up a pair of Drew Brees passes. Miami will likely have more success running the football against a Jets team that surrendered 153 yards on the ground to New Orleans last Sunday. Harris, Rhodes, nose tackle Kris Jenkins (7 tackles) and linebacker Bart Scott (23 tackles) have been the most active run-stoppers for a team that ranks 13th in NFL rushing defense (100.2 yards per game) as Week 5 begins.
If you're looking to pull out a Week 5 fantasy contest based on the exploits of members of either the Jets or Dolphins, and you don't own either of these defenses, you could be in a bit of trouble. The quarterbacks are too inexperienced at this stage to merit starting assignments, and the fact that both teams stop the run well makes using Jones, Washington, Brown, or Williams somewhat problematic. Each back will probably contribute something, but none can be counted on for a huge night. Edwards will be a trendy play here, but he didn't produce for the Browns over the past two seasons and a wait-and-see approach is prudent in regard to his potential on the Jets.
The Jets have taken on the "AFC East media darling" mantle that the Dolphins earned last season, but with a rookie quarterback in tow, are still going to have to prove themselves on a weekly basis. Though Miami has had its problems during a 1-3 start, the Dolphins are still strong enough defensively to dial up some things to rattle Sanchez. The Jets will do the same to Henne, and you can count on some mistakes from the former Michigan star, but the Dolphins' prospects for running the football seem a bit better than those of the Jets. In what will likely be a grind-it-out affair, look for Miami to make one more big play than its rival, and to pull out a win it needs more desperately than does New York.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Dolphins 14, Jets 13
10/08 18:00:34 ET