Here goes something you never thought you’d read:
Chad Pennington and the Miami Dolphins diced the New York Jets for over 250 passing yards, and two touchdowns.
It’d be a little easy to write about how Chad Pennington’s efforts in the fourth quarter culminated in an interception by Darrelle Revis. But that would be unfair to his performance. The man played well.
The New York Jets’ defense allowed Pennington to connect with TE Anthony Fasano eight times for 84 yards and a touchdown. Fasano is a very good athlete, and all signs are pointing to him being the big body threat for Pennington.
Going into Sunday’s game, common belief was that the Dolphins’ would make their statement in the running game. Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown combined for only 47 yards on 16 carries.
If the Dolphins expect Chad Pennington to be nothing more than a game manager, the running game will need to produce better results. Pennington was able to put up some incredible numbers because he was running high on emotion—when that fades, the Dolphins will need the running game to establish any kind of consistency.
With that said, the Dolphins’ defense didn’t play as terribly as expected. Will Allen and Yeremiah Bell played very well in coverage. Channing Crowder’s seven tackle performance was also admirable.
However, in the end, the New York Jets proved to be too much for them.
The defense played incredibly well. As mentioned, the run was shut down, forcing Miami to completely abandon it later in the game. And the pass rush did disturb Pennington’s timing.
Vernon Gholston actually found his way into the backfield and applied pressure, as did David Harris. Kris Jenkins did everything fans expected a 360-pound nose tackle to do. And Shaun Ellis, Calvin Pace, and Bryan Thomas combined to record four sacks.
Bryan Thomas’ performance was a much needed sigh of relief for Jets’ fans after his offseason confession. Admitting to the loss of ferocity after signing a new contract, Thomas was on a very short leash. Recording two sacks in the first game provides him with a much needed cushion in the “what have you done for me lately” world of the NFL.
Despite allowing Chad Pennington to move the chains and hit a rhythm in the fourth quarter, the Jets’ secondary played well.
Rookie Dwight Lowery responded to the challenge as Chad Pennington sought him out in passing situations. Lowery did allow a touchdown to TE David Martin, but his recovery skills as he deflected passes were much more impressive.
The aforementioned interception by Darrelle Revis also came at a crucial time when the Dolphins were threatening a victory in the final seconds.
On the offensive side of the ball, Thomas Jones took advantage of a weak Miami defense, and a new offensive line. Jones ran for 101 yards on 22 carries, found his way to the end zone, and matched his rushing touchdown total from last season. Jones squeezed through defenders, and bounced for tough yards when needed.
With some fans questioning Jones’ ability, he really needed to take advantage of the circumstances in this game. Hopefully, his performance serves as a building point that will set the tone for the rest of the season.
Sure to be on every highlight reel on every sports program, Brett Favre connected for two incredible touchdowns in the first half. The first came on a 56-yard strike to Jerricho Cotchery up the left sideline.
The second touchdown came on a fourth-and-13 situation where Eric Mangini declined to send in Mike Nugent for a field goal.
With defenders swarming around Favre, he stepped through and around the rush, and maintained his balance long enough to launch a Hail Mary into the arms of the waiting Chansi Stuckey for a 22-yard touchdown.
Laveranues Coles hauled in one pass for five yards, but missed a few other passes from Favre. The nagging leg injury that sidelined Coles for most of the preseason appears to have had an adverse effect on his ability. The unfamiliarity, and lack of chemistry, between Coles and Favre proved to be much more significant than previously assumed.
Finally, with the return of Mike Westhoff as Special Teams Coordinator, it appears he may have his hands full repairing whatever Kevin O’Dea coached.
Coverage on the kickoffs needs a lot of work, and the punt team needs to improve. Had the Miami Dolphins been a better offense, they would’ve taken advantage of the field position the Jets allowed.
An apparent injury to Mike Nugent poses an interesting question for the team as well. After botching a 32-yard field goal attempt, Nugent limped off the field and didn’t return to kicking duties until the second half. And when he did return, his first kickoff attempt was a squib down the middle of the field.
Expect the Jets to scour the free agent pool this week. Although the severity of Nugent’s injury has yet to be disclosed, it’s safe to assume that Mangini wants to find someone to keep Nugent honest. The disgust on Mangini’s face after Nugent’s miss was evident.
All that matters at this point is that the New York Jets are 1-0. The big money men they brought in during the offseason are paying off with every successful snap.
However, it’s still impossible to truly gauge success after one game. The Miami Dolphins are a division rival, and were full of emotion coming in to Sunday’s contest. They can now boast a two-headed rushing attack, an intelligent, efficient QB, and an offensive line with immense potential. But they are one year removed from a 1-15 season.
With all the new faces, and youth, how accomplished should the New York Jets feel with a victory that was only guaranteed with five seconds left on the clock.
Jets’ fans should take solace in the fact that one year ago this game may have been a loss. But expectations are high in 2008. There is fresh talent across the board in New York.
A win is certainly a win, but will a performance like the one against Miami be sufficient against stronger teams? With the New England Patriots coming up, followed by a trip to San Diego, the New York Jets will need to fire on all cylinders a more consistent basis.
Bumps & Bruises
K Mike Nugent with an apparent leg injury.