Monday Night Football Preview - Jets at Dolphins
by Matt Severance - 10/12/2009
Monday night's game between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins has something that no other game this weekend had: two first-year starters at quarterback.
Indeed, the Jets' Mark Sanchez, the early leading candidate for Rookie of the Year, and the Dolphins' Chad Henne, a second-round pick last year, have combined for just five starts total. So tonight's game could have some rough spots in the passing game and be rather low scoring. The Jets are three-point favorites on Bodog with the total at just 37.
Sanchez has completed 63 of 110 passes (57.3 percent) with four touchdowns and five interceptions. He is coming off his worst start of the season, turning the ball over four times in a loss to New Orleans. Henne has completed 24 of 41 passes (58.5 percent) with one touchdown and one interception.
It will also be the debut of new Jets receiver Braylon Edwards tonight. He was acquired from the Browns this week and statistically speaking this is the perfect time for Edwards to debut in green and white. In the past two seasons, the former Michigan star has three 100-yard games, all on Monday Night Football. He has 11 receptions for 157 yards and three TDs in two career wins over the Dolphins.
Look for the Dolphins to try and run it down the Jets' throats, and not only because of Henne's inexperience. Entering Week 5, Miami led the NFL in rushing yards (Ronnie Brown leads the way with 108.7 per game) and rushing attempts after rolling up 250 yards on the ground last week against Buffalo, the team's most since 2002. The Wildcat seems to still be working just fine as 29 carries out of that formation this season has produced an average of 7.3 yards. That's nearly 20 percent more than last year. That Jet defense gets a lot more pub now with Rex Ryan on the sideline but it actually ranks just 19th in rushing yards per attempt allowed.
However, Ryan seems to have some magic against Miami. As defensive coordinator with the Ravens last year his team beat Miami twice (including playoffs), holding the Fins to 22 total points. In 17 regular season and playoff games last year, the Dolphins committed 18 turnovers. Six of those came in the two games against the Ravens. And Baltimore held the Dolphins' Wildcat to a total of 11 yards on seven carries (1.6-yard average).
Look for that Jet defense to have several exotic looks for Henne in just his second career start. Henne threw for just 115 yards last week but didn't turn the ball over - Miami turned the ball over seven times in its first three games and three of those were by now out for the season Chad Pennington.
New York is averaging 130 rushing yards per game, but the Fins are limiting opponents to 61 yards per game and 2.9 yards per carry. The Jets will also try to run the ball often so as not to expose Sanchez too much to a Miami defense that had six sacks and three interceptions against Buffalo last week.
The Jets have owned this series of late, winning eight of the past 10 and three straight in Miami - by an average of 12 points per game.
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