By Peter Schwartz
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“I’m playing Sunday.”
With that simple yet strong statement, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis insisted Thursday that he would be on the field for Sunday’s contest against the Dolphins.
Revis said he’s set to return after missing last week’s loss to the Steelers, due to a concussion suffered in the season opener against the Bills.
“I’m just happy to be back,” said Revis. “I’m willing to do my job as I always do and that’s to compete and play.”
The Jets are expected to get Revis back as they face a potential crossroads in the season. Sometimes it’s insane to put too much importance on a Week 3 contest. However, in this case, it’s far from insane.
The 1-1 Jets visit the 1-1 Dolphins on Sunday, and for Gang Green it’s a huge game for a number of reasons. First, they are looking to bounce back from their loss in Pittsburgh. Second, it’s an important divisional game as all four teams in the AFC East head into Week 3 tied at 1-1. And third, the Jets have home games against the 49ers and Texans coming up in the next couple of weeks.
“We know what it means,” said Revis. “We want to go down there and win. That’s our goal. It’s a division game. This is a must-win for us. We need this win. The expectations for us are high to go down there and win.”
A loss to the Dolphins could put the Jets in a position to start the season 1-4.
The Jets’ AFC East rivals would like nothing better than to hand New York a second straight loss.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. “Division games are fun games to be a part of. Rivalry games are always exciting to be a part of. Again, we don’t make the schedule, so this is the next game on our schedule. I know our players, our staff, our fans will be excited about the game this week when it comes.”
The Jets defense has struggled since they came back on the field for the second half of the season opener against Buffalo. Missed tackles in that game — as well as in Pittsburgh — have caused some concern about a defense that many thought could be the best in the NFL.
They haven’t lived up to the billing so far and this Sunday, they face a difficult challenge in shutting down Miami’s Reggie Bush, the second-leading rusher in the NFL.
“Miami is a very high-tempo offense right now,” said Jets linebacker Aaron Maybin. “We know that they can run the ball very well. We know who their running back is. We know him inside and out.”
Bush has rushed 40 times for 241 yards, an average of 6 yards per carry. He was named the AFC offensive player of the week after rushing for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the Dolphins’ 35-13 win over the Raiders.
On the flip side, the Jets defense will get their shot at Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He threw three interceptions in the Dolphins’ season opener loss to the Texans but bounced back with a touchdown pass and run in the victory over Oakland.
The Jets have had their success against young signal callers, and that could come into play again this Sunday.
Or maybe not.
“I think normally, it would definitely be a factor,” said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. “I think with (Ryan) Tannehill being with (Mike) Sherman, I think he’s probably the veteran quarterback of the group. He’s had, certainly, the experience running this offense and it shows. He’s very confident back there. You can’t tell by looking on the tape that this is a rookie quarterback. He’s a tremendous athlete, he has a nice arm, and I think he obviously has a good grasp of the system.”
While the Dolphins have a new head coach and a rookie quarterback, not much has changed on the other side of the ball. Miami, once again, has a tough physical defense that, at times, has given the Jets fits over recent seasons.
Gang Green is bracing for more of the same on Sunday.
“We see the same thing every year,” said Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. “A physical, tough strong defense (that’s) great in the back end. (It’s) one of the toughest front sevens we will play, similar story (to) the week before. We have to hold up in protection. We have to run the ball well and it’s up to me to find more completions than I did last week.”
However, running the ball against the Dolphins could be as difficult for the Jets on Sunday as not waiting on a long line for an early bird special in a South Florida restaurant.
The Dolphins gave up just 23 yards on the ground against the Raiders.
If the Jets have their issues moving the ball, the wildcat could become a big factor — and that leads us to another juicy storyline.
Jacksonville native Tim Tebow returns to Sun Life Stadium where he has enjoyed some pretty memorable moments over the years. Most recently, Tebow led the Broncos to an 18-15 overtime victory over the Dolphins there last season, a game that Denver trailed 15-0 with less than three minutes to go.
The stadium that sits near the Broward-Dade border isn’t totally home for him, but it has been special.
“Well, its Florida, so it’s fun,” said Tebow. “Playing at the stadium is fun though. I’ve had some good games in the stadium. I won a state championship and a national championship there. (I’ve) had some fun games. So yeah, it’s a memorable stadium for me.”
If there’s one area of the Dolphins defense that the Jets could exploit, it would be their secondary. Gang Green has a favorable matchup but they have to take care of business on the field.
That means running the correct routes and holding onto the ball.
“With our skills and our speed, we should really take advantage of these guys,” said Santonio Holmes. “Hopefully, the offense opens up, but we just (have) our job to do, which is to catch the ball and do whatever we can after.”
There have been plenty of memorable Jets-Dolphins games over the years. The beauty of this rivalry is that you really never know what to expect.
Buckle up for the latest chapter of this epic novel on Sunday!
JETS-DOLPHINS ALL-TIME SERIES
The Jets lead the all-time regular season series against the Dolphins 48-43-1. Gang Green had squished the Fish five straight times before the Dolphins went on their current run of winning five of the last seven, including the regular season finale this past January 1, a 19-17 Miami victory.
“Since I’ve been here, I think both teams have been competitive and been good football teams, so I think it has been (a rivalry),” said Ryan. “We’ve had some good games against each other, even the years I’ve been coaching. I think there is that Miami-Jet thing. I obviously wasn’t here for previous seasons and things like that, but I know the Miami-Jets rivalry has always been a good one.”
Ryan is 2-4 lifetime against the Dolphins as Jets head coach, including losses in two out of the three previous meetings in South Florida.
“It starts with the players,” said Ryan. “I think they have a good group of players. They play extremely hard. They were well-coached obviously. I thought so, so much that I hired their coach (Tony Sparano). That was it. Those (three) things: (they have) good talent, they play hard and are well-coached. Any team is difficult to beat with that combination. Certainly, we had our hands full with them.”
Throughout the years, there have been many games between these two teams that have become instant classic.
“Every time we play the Dolphins, it’s always kind of a street fight out there,” said Sanchez. “Not necessarily from the quarterback position, but our guys up front, their front seven, our defensive line and their offensive line, it’s always a physical matchup. It’s always fun for the fans to watch.”
The series history has been dominated by winning streaks on both ends with the Jets winning the first eight games of the series and amassing another streak of eight games as well as streaks of six and five games, while the Dolphins recorded streaks of seven games and six games (twice).
This week in Jets History… 9/21/86… Wesley Walker set a franchise record with four touchdown catches including the game winner in overtime as the Jets beat the Dolphins 51-45 at Giants Stadium.
The Dolphins are 1-0 in the postseason. Miami beat the Jets 14-0 in the AFC Championship game in January of 1983 at the Orange Bowl.
Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano makes his return to South Florida this Sunday. Before coming over to Gang Green, Sparano was the head coach of the Dolphins from 2008 to 2011, a four-year run highlighted by an AFC East title in 2008.
Sparano was fired before the end of last season but insists this excursion down to South Florida is about one thing.
“It’s a business trip obviously,” said Sparano. “We have a game to play. I just told the players this and I practice it, ‘If I want to go to vacation in Miami then I can go to vacation in Miami.’ That’s not what we’re going there for. We’re going there to play a game. It’s a business trip and we have a job to do.”
Sparano says that he holds no bitter feelings towards anybody with the Dolphins. He referred to a comment that Rex Ryan made when he returned to Baltimore last year. He acknowledged that there is a different between return to a place where you were an assistant as opposed to Sparano coming back to where he was a head coach.
“I’ve gone back to a lot of places where I’ve coached and you’ve met people, have friends and all that good stuff, but this is a little something different,” said Sparano. “I think starting from where we were and the amount of work that had to go into it, it’s a little bit different. I don’t have any hard feelings. It’s part of the job. I understand how the league works and I have a great respect obviously for the players that were there. They’ve helped me get great opportunities like this opportunity here (to) be a Jet and that’s the most important thing right now.”
When the Jets bus pulls up to Sun Life Stadium on Sunday, Sparano had better stay with the team as they walk inside. He’s not exactly familiar with the path that he’s going to take.
“It will be a little bit different,” said Sparano. “The funny thing is I couldn’t tell you where the visitors’ locker room is there. It will be a little bit funny in that way, I’m sure, but once the ball drops, we’re there to do a job. That’s the most important thing right now.”
An even more important job for Sparano is to get the offense back on track and depart South Florida with a victory.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
Aside from Sparano, the Jets and Dolphins have some other connections.
Dolphins executive Vice-President of Football Administration Dawn Aponte worked for the Jets from 1991 to 2005.
Jets offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo spent three seasons as the Dolphins line coach from 2009-11.
Dolphins Assistant General Manager Brian Gaine spent time on the Jets practice squad in 1996 before joining the Jets front office. He was a member of the college scouting department in 1999, manager of pro-development/NFC in 2000, pro scout from 2001 to 2003, and director of pro scouting in 2004. Gaine leaves no stone un-turned when it comes to finding talent. When he was with the Jets, he found wide receiver Kevin Swayne who was playing for the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League.
THE OTHER MIRACLE AGAINST THE DOLPHINS
I like to call it “The Miracle In Miami.”
When it comes to great games between the Jets and Dolphins, the 2000 “Monday Night Miracle” at Giants Stadium always comes to mind. But, for whatever reason, the 1991 regular season finale at what was then called Joe Robbie Stadium doesn’t seem to garner much respect.
That day, the 7-8 Jets faced the 8-8 Dolphins with the winner earning the final AFC playoff spot.
I was visiting family down in South Florida that weekend and attended the game. To this day, it’s probably the most memorable Jets game that I ever went to as a fan. That was the day that Dan Marino hit Ferrell Edmunds on a one-yard touchdown pass with :44 left to play to give the Dolphins a 20-17 lead.
I don’t think there were many Jets fans who felt that a comeback was in the cards. In fact, Jets radio play by play voice Marty Glickman told analyst Dave Jennings on the air that the game was over.
It wasn’t over.
Ken O’Brien marched the Jets down the field to set up a 44-yard field goal attempt by Raul Allegre on the final play of regulation. Allegre was filling in for the injured Pat Leahy and made the game-tying kick sending the contest into overtime. Then, 7:29 into the extra session, Allegre came through again with the game winning 30-yard field goal sending the Jets to the playoffs.
“I was a little nervous, because I didn’t know what the guy was going to do,” defensive end Jeff Lageman told Newsday. “But he came up big.”
The players would douse then Head Coach Bruce Coslet with a bucket of water.
“It was real cold,” Coslet told Newsday after the game. “I couldn’t catch my breath. I almost had a heart attack.”
Johnny Hector was also a major contributor that day with 132 yards rushing.
You can watch Sunday’s game on CBS 2-HD. Marv Albert and Rich Gannon will be the broadcast team. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.
Mark Sanchez is currently tied for second in the NFL with four touchdown passes. Sanchez is ranked fourth in the league with a passer rating of 95.0.
Dustin Keller has 28 catches for 328 yards and 4 touchdowns in 8 career games against the Dolphins. Santonio Holmes has faced Miami 5 times in his career hauling in 7 catches for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns.
My record this season: 1-1
I picked against the Jets the first two weeks, but that will change here. I think the Jets will respond after a dismal effort in Pittsburgh. I’m not impressed with the Dolphins despite their victory over the Raiders. Expect a solid performance from the Jets against an inferior opponent. The Jets fans will enjoy the South Florida sunshine and a win.
Jets 27, Dolphins 13
That’s all for now! Enjoy the game and check back on Monday for a recap of the season opener!
What’s your prediction? Be heard in the comments below!