Friday, September 24, 2010
Final Word: AFC East
By Tim Graham
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 3:
Short passes could be the key to victory for Chad Henne and the Dolphins against the Jets.
The best way for the Dolphins to put up points on the Jets won't be the run game or the long ball. When thinking about what the Dolphins' offense can do best, two images come to mind: Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams pounding the ball and Chad Henne using his big arm. The best formula might be the short passing game. Since Jets head coach Rex Ryan took over and installed his defense, the Jets have allowed only 27.1 percent completions on passes longer than 15 yards, but 60.3 percent on passes 14 yards or shorter, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Henne took advantage last year in beating the Jets twice, completing 75 percent of his passes of 14 yards or shorter. He averaged 7.1 yards per attempt, gained 17 first downs and threw for a pair of touchdowns with no interceptions. On such throws against the Jets, Henne posted a 110.9 passer rating.
Nobody should be laughing about the Bills' chances to beat the Patriots. True enough, the Bills never have won in Gillette Stadium and have lost 13 straight to the Patriots regardless of venue. But let's not forget the Bills would've won in New England last year if not for a fluke play. Buffalo presents some tough matchups for New England. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't Buffalo's franchise quarterback, but he's the right choice for this game. New England's secondary has been vulnerable, and, unlike Trent Edwards, Fitzpatrick will test those unproven cornerbacks. Buffalo's chief strength is its underrated pass defense. If the Bills can get some pressure on Tom Brady, especially with sergeant at arms Kevin Faulk out of the lineup, then they'll have a chance.
Sunday night could be a huge turnover game for Mark Sanchez. Young quarterbacks are erratic. Just when you think they have it figured out -- Sanchez had the best day of his career last week against New England -- they waver. Sanchez hasn't committed a turnover this season, but Miami has an opportunistic defense that must be passed against if New York wants to win. Miami extracted four turnovers out of Brett Favre last week. Granted, Favre has been prone to those kinds of games throughout his career, but Sanchez has shown that propensity as well. Sanchez will need to be on point.
Patriots outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain is looking at Sunday's game like it's Christmas. When you look at Banta-Cain's stat line for last year, you can't help but be impressed. He led the Patriots with 10 sacks. But take a look at his game-by-game production. Seven of his sacks came on three days, leaving him with three sacks in his other 13 games. Banta-Cain amassed five of his sacks against the Bills, two in the season opener and three more in the rematch. He's off to a decent start this year with 1.5 sacks through two games.
As happy as Brady is to know Aaron Schobel won't be chasing him Sunday, the Jets have to be even more stoked Ted Ginn isn't with the Dolphins anymore. The Jets went to the playoffs last year, while the Dolphins watched on television. But the Dolphins did sweep the season series with monumental contributions from Ginn, whose last memory in South Florida will be of dropped passes and torturing the Jets. In the first game, which featured five lead changes in the fourth quarter, Ginn beat broken coverage for a 53-yard touchdown strike from Henne. In the rematch, Ginn set an NFL record by returning two kickoffs of at least 100 yards for touchdowns in a game the Jets lost by five points.