Aug 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker (87), New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) and New York Jets offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson (60) celebrate Decker’s touchdown catch during the first half of their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets should feel ashamed after last week’s 24-17 butt-whooping at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. Team leaders like Muhammad Wilkerson disclosed in their post-game comments that the team came out flat. That’s a terrible admission.
The players and coaching staff should be embarrassed, falling behind 24-0 at home in the second quarter. The fan base came out in full force, but by the end of the game, it was a MetLife Stadium full of boisterous Eagles fans. Does it get any worse than that?
In the Philadelphia game, we all witnessed “the bad Ryan Fitzpatrick.” Sure, he’s better than Geno Smith, but against the Eagles he projected as the worst quarterback in the division. To be fair, Fitzpatrick sorely missed his weapons, reliable receiver Eric Decker and bruising back Chris Ivory, as well as the security of his blindside blocker Willie Colon. But any tested coach will tell you that injuries don’t matter, as its always about the next man up. So the Jets have to own that.
Few prognosticators doubted the Jets would crush the Browns. They won their first “trap game” over a desperate Colts. They lost their second trap game against a winless Eagles. This week they face a third straight desperate team in the big-spending Dolphins, who are struggling to keep their heads above water. Life in the Miami sun is hot and enlivening, but the Dolphins’ time in the AFC East cellar has been cold and lonely.
There’s many reasons to fear the flustered Phins, after consecutive humiliating losses to the football powerhouses of Jacksonville and Buffalo. Here are 5 reasons to soar with the Jets at Wembley Stadium in London this Sunday 9:30 EST.
Next: 5. Suh Me!
Sep 27, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (93) is introduced before a game against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
5. Suh me!
Miami didn’t fork over to former Lions brute Ndamukong Suh six-years, $114 million to “freelance” on defense. They certainly cannot be happy with the controversies and chaos caused by their bank-breaking investment thus far. The real question should be: Is the Dolphins “D” truly too complex or is the athlete too single-minded? Miami’s brain-trust must be scratching their collective heads over this nonsense.
Having said that, Jets’ guard Willie Colon will be out of action for a few games with a sprained MCL. That means Suh, Cameron Wake and company can bum-rush unworthy NFLer/John Idzik third-round bust lineman Brian Winters. Offense coordinator Chan Gailey must somehow figure out how to work around that, so that the Jets’ offense won’t grounded before takeoff.
Remember, there’s no Oday Aboushi around to blame anymore (now the starting left guard for the Houston Texans). And it’s a good thing that Gailey does not rely on his tight ends because with starter Jeff Cumberland‘s concussion protocol, Kellen Davis is the only TE left on the roster. But you really must be concerned for Fitzpatrick’s physical well-being under such a jailbreak scenario. Suh has proven to be the king of violent dirty players into inflicting unnecessary injury.
There’s a long troubling litany of star athletes who stop listening to instructions once they get paid. And only bad can come of a rich, entitled athlete not following the game plan. The Jets’ coaching staff must figure out how to exploit that rift.
Next: 4. Tanny-ho
Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets inside linebacker David Harris (52) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) in the second half at Sun Life Stadium. The Jets defeated Miami 37-24. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Tannehill is receiving an unnecessarily bad rap in Dade County. It’s not like the still-raw quarterback — who was a standout wide receiver at Texas A&M before switching to QB in his junior year — has Csonka, Kiick and Warfield of the legendary ’72 Fins behind him. Even the most negative Jet fan understands that Tannehill would be a welcome upgrade over Geno Smith — who, by the way, has been doing a lot of big-talking recently, considering that jaw surgeons only just cleared him to, um, sit the bench.
Lamar Miller, Miami’s go-to running back nursing an ankle injury, has just 105 yards in three games. His stand-ins Jonas Gray and Damien Williams aren’t exactly world-beaters. Receivers Greg Jennings and Rishard Matthews, and tight ends Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims are certainly competent. Potentially elite wideouts DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Matt Hazel have much to prove. Former practice-squad TE Jake Stoneburner has probably delivered the most on-field so far.
There is also the issue of the Dolphins’ offensive line. Center Mike Pouncey, nicked-up again against Buffalo, is solid, and young tackle Ja’Wuan James shows flashes of domination. But would you trust the safety of your franchise QB to some combination of Jason Fox, Dallas Thomas, Jamil Douglas and Jeff Linkenbach?
The Miami franchise raised eyebrows this May for signing Tannehill to a four-year, $96-million contract extension, with over $55 million guaranteed. It will likely take until toward the end of that pact for the Phins to see such projected greatness, but he is on that slow trajectory. The front office seems confident to wait it out — but will their infamously front-runner fan base revolt before that happens?
Next: 3. Average Joe
Sep 20, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin walks back to the sidelines in the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. The Jacksonville Jaguars won 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
3. Average Joe
Dolphins’ head coach Joe Philbin is a dead man walking. His team got booed off the field after Sunday’s 41-14 home-opening humiliation against the Bills, in which Buffalo’s Rex Ryan seemingly coached like Don Shula and Tyrod Taylor quarterbacked like Bob Griese. Miami owner Stephen Ross — who in July told the Miami Herald that he was anxious to see a return on his enormous investment — was last seen stewing in his luxury box.
The players are the antithesis of happy, according to “unnamed sources.” The Jeff Ireland regime, that hired the former Packers’ offensive coordinator to helm the aqua-and-orange, has been gone for the better part of a year. Some Dolphins insiders don’t believe that Philbin will survive past next week’s bye-week.
This is a dangerous game because Philbin has absolutely nothing to lose. His Dolphins will either cut bait, or they will swim back home with a playoff-run-worthy 2-2 record. A Dolphin win coupled with a Giants’ victory over the Bills would catapult Miami to second place, and the Jets into the cellar. So this inner-division game is crucial for all parties involved.
Never underestimate a man fighting for his job and for his reputation. Coach Todd Bowles better be prepared for what’s coming. Fitzpatrick, are you ready?
Next: 2. Trader Mike
May 8, 2015; Florham Park, NY, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan (left) and head coach Todd Bowles watch rookie minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
2. Trader Mike
Jet fans certainly understand that at general manager, they have gone from the bad Mike (Tannenbaum) to the good Mike (Maccagnan). Dolphin fans will soon grasp what that means. Let’s just say he’s their problem now.
Tannenbaum’s ascent is certainly admirable. But it was born of an old boy network (from his earliest Jets days as Bill Parcells’ wonder-boy “cap-ologist”) and personifies The Peter Principle — one step higher in a chain of command than deserved. In the case of Miami’s “Trader Mike,” he’s a brilliant bean-counter masquerading as a top-level NFL talent evaluator.
And just what’s wrong with owner Stephen Ross, a shrewd self-made real estate mogul, actually believing that he could win it all by bringing in this guy to helm the Dolphins’ ship? As they say, The Fish, it stinks from the head.
Tannenbaum, a master of non-speak, remains stone silent at press time. But there’s not much he can say at this time without further filleting his inherited, embattled head coach. And if the Miami media have fiery questions about the Dolphins’ course, here’s more to toss on the bonfire: All we heard after the NFL Draft were chirping sounds from Mike and the Phins over the greatness of their new talent.
With 11 rookies on the 2015 roster, just exactly where is that impact talent? And which will prove to be a better investment, Tannenbaum’s still-baffling lavishing of $100 million on Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes in New York, or his recent $200 million for Suh and Tannehill? Or is this truly a case of “once shame on you, twice shame on me.”
Next: 1. London Flog
Oct 27, 2013; London, United
dom; General view of fans in the tailgate zone before the NFL International Series game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
1. London Flog
The schedule lists this as a Dolphins home game, but is it? The cold-weather Brits adore Miami, but they love New York more. London loves New York, and vice versa. This game is not about which franchise “travels better.” This game is all about the Wembley Stadium faithful with minimal rooting interest flocking to the “International Series” for a taste of American football culture.
At worst, NFL-illiterate Londoners will cheer 50/50 for the “visitors.” But don’t be at all surprised if they tilt 75% pro-Big Apple. (Even though the Jets wear a decidedly Irish green-and-white!)
New York caught a break this season with the schedule-makers, with two 2015 road games in relative neutral sites — this game in London and December 6 at a blue-lit MetLife Stadium against the Giants. They must take advantage of such generosity. If the Jets fail to hook Philbin’s putrid Fish, already reeling and about to capsize, then they are not a playoff caliber team.
Bowles and his players understand that the only way to rid of last week’s Eagles stench is to fry the Fish with a ground-and-pound offense and that supposedly stifling defense (that last week made Sam Bradford look like Ron Jaworski). A convincing victory would be just what the doctor ordered for this franchise, and would certainly make Sunday morning’s coffee-and-eggs breakfast go down easier for its beleaguered fan base.