Jets vs. Dolphins: Key Match-Ups

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First a few updates:

1. Lito Sheppard has been on the practice field the past two days and is expected to start this Monday night. Damien Woody remains questionable with an ankle injury and didn’t practice today. Wayne Hunter would start in his place. Donald Stickland hasn’t been practicing and isn’t expected to play, which means Dwight Lowery would slide into the nickel role.

2. Braylon Edwards was out on the practice field and has been making good progress with the offense according to Rex Ryan. He will be in the starting line-up this Monday night.

Jets vs. Dolphins: Key Match-Ups

Tomorrow check back for an excessively comprehensive breakdown of the Jets/Dolphins game and then again on Friday for my prediction, today I am going to focus on the key individual match-ups for this Sunday’s game.

Bart Scott/David Harris/Calvin Pace/Bryan Thomas vs. Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams: The Jets linebackers need to swarm the Dolphins two talented running backs, especially Brown who is playing as well as anybody back in the league right now. He has been particularly dangerous in the wildcat formation and has allowed the Dolphins to control the clock, and protect the inexperienced Chad Henne last week. The Jets need to stop the run early and on first/second down force Henne into third and long situations. Miami simply doesn’t have the personnel to convert third and longs or consistently move the ball through their passing attack. The Jets linebackers must get to Brown and prevent him from having another 100 yard effort. As a whole, the unit needs to tackle better than they did against New Orleans. The return of Calvin Pace should be a big boost in the both pass and run defense.

Rex Ryan vs. The Wildcat: In two games against the Dolphins last year, Ryan’s defense allowed only 22 points, held Ronnie Brown to 46 rushing yards, and forced 6 turnovers. If Ryan can continue to outscheme the wildcat, the Dolphins will have no way to move the football. Let’s be real here, you think Chad Henne can drop back and pick apart the Jets defense with targets like Ted Ginn Jr, Devone Bess, and Greg Camarillo in a conventional offense? Absolutely not. The only way the Dolphins will be able to move the ball is on the ground, where a good amount of their production comes from the Wildcat. I think Ryan has been all over his defense about stopping run the this week, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see 8 guys in the box frequently this Monday night.

Mark Sanchez vs. Last Week’s Performance: All eyes will be on how Mark Sanchez responds to his first ugly NFL performance. Expect the Jets to focus on running ball and have a relatively conservative game plan this week. Regardless, there will be times when Sanchez has to make plays down the field and he needs to step up as he did during the first three weeks of the season. The most important thing is that he must protect the football. He needs to get through a game without having a fumble or interception.

Thomas Jones vs. Dolphins Run Defense: There has been alot talk about Braylon Edwards opening up space for Thomas Jones, who has struggled so far this season. Miami has one of the league’s best run defenses, so it would show something if Jones can get back on track. All of the Jets running backs and offensive line need to step up so the Jets can return to the “ground and pound” approach Ryan desires. It will be interesting to see how many reps Shonn Greene gets this week, and also if Leon Washington will get more than the four carries he got last week.

Nice to finally have a Jets player with a fantasy files commercial