AFC East: Jacksonville Jaguars

W2W4: Jets vs. Jaguars

August, 16, 2013

The New York Jets (0-1) face the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at MetLife Stadium -- the first game of the season in the stadium that will host the last game, Super Bowl XLVIII. The main storylines:

1. Quarterback battle, part deux: Mark Sanchez starts for the second straight week and Geno Smith ... well, his sprained ankle might keep him out. The Jets haven't revealed their plans for Smith, who has fallen behind Sanchez in the competition. If Smith doesn't play, could he lose the battle without even getting a legit chance to win it? They will re-evaluate the situation after the game.

A Sanchez implosion probably would make Rex Ryan extend the competition another week. There's a chance Ryan might do that anyway, regardless of how Sanchez performs. The organization wants to evaluate a healthy Smith before making a decision, and the only way to do that would be to shut him down until Monday -- a four-day break -- and see how he rebounds in practice from his "brutal" showing Wednesday.

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesJets quarterback Mark Sanchez might get a visitor's reception during Saturday's home game.
The downside to extending it is not having the first-team offense finalized for the all-important third preseason game. Would Ryan want to mess with that for the sake of giving a good look to a rookie who probably isn't ready anyway to be the Week 1 starter? There are so many questions and time is running out.

2. A Bronx cheer in Jersey: This will be Sanchez's first home game since last Dec. 2. That day, he threw three interceptions and was benched against the Cardinals -- one of the low points of his career. It came only a week after the infamous Butt Fumble. Suffice it to say, he won't be embraced warmly Saturday night. Even though the stadium will be half-empty, it'll provide a scaled-down version of what it will be like Sept. 8, when they open against the Bucs.

3. An-Chris-ipation: Barring a last-minute change, RB Chris Ivory is likely to make his Jets debut. It has been a difficult summer for Ivory, who missed two weeks with a pulled hamstring. But he looked fine this week in practice and should get a few carries unless they decide to play it ultra-safe and keep him out.

Basically, Ivory is Shonn Greene with a little more wiggle, a huge part of the master plan on offense. After rushing only 16 times for 37 yards last week, the Jets should put an added emphasis on running the ball. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg tends to fall in love with the passing game, but this team isn't built for 40 throws a game.

4. J.J. versus A.A.: The battle at safety continues. This time, Jaiquawn Jarrett gets the start. The former Eagles second-round pick impressed so much last week that teammates were hooting and hollering from the sideline whenever he made a tackle. Ryan says Antonio Allen still has a chance, but let's be real: It's Jarrett's job to win. Either way, it's not as though we're looking at the second coming of Ed Reed. This is the only starting job legitimately up in the air on offense and defense.

5. Braylon & Co.: There's a lot of competition for the fourth and fifth receiver spots, not counting the injured Santonio Holmes. After Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Clyde Gates, it's between Braylon Edwards, Ben Obomanu and rookie Ryan Spadola.

Spadola, undrafted out of Lehigh, is making this interesting. He probably will have a role on special teams this week, and it's imperative that he excel there to help his chances. Edwards got off to a slow start, but came on this week in practice. His old Cleveland buddy, TE Kellen Winslow, needs another strong showing to secure a roster spot.

6. Just for kicks: There's still some uncertainty with the kicking and punting situations. P Robert Malone (back) missed two days of practice, opening the door a crack for Ryan Quigley. PK Nick Folk is having a solid camp, but he's not as long on kickoffs as Billy Cundiff. The Jets reportedly might have interest in veteran free agent Dan Carpenter. Advice to Folk: Don't miss.

Observation deck: Dolphins-Jaguars

August, 9, 2013
The Miami Dolphins played in their second preseason game Friday night, against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Dolphins won the game 27-3 and improved to 1-1 on the preseason.

But the result isn’t nearly as important as the individual performances in the preseason. Here are some observations on Miami:
  • Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a better night than he did in his preseason debut against the Dallas Cowboys. Tannehill started slow and had some shaky moments, but he finished strong. Tannehill’s final stats were 5-for-9 passing for 75 yards and a touchdown. Tannehill looked hurried but caught his stride in his fourth series when he led Miami to a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. Tannehill made two big-time throws to Dustin Keller for 24 and 22 yards, the latter for a touchdown. Tannehill’s two passes are why a lot of people like his potential.
  • Both Miami starting receivers Mike Wallace (groin) and Brian Hartline (calf) dressed for their first preseason games. But neither receiver got many opportunities. Hartline had one reception for 9 yards and Wallace didn’t get a reception.
  • Dolphins starting running back Lamar Miller played in the game despite suffering an ankle injury in practice this week. Miller rushed for 6 yards on two carries and also had a reception for 6 yards. Miller has run well in limited opportunities this season, but he’s had a history of injuries. Miami’s coaching staff needs to be careful about his preseason workload.
  • Miami’s defense was improved this week. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe made his Dolphins debut and flashed with some good plays. The tackling also was improved. So that won’t be a big topic of discussion next week. The starters and backups all did a good job to keep Jacksonville out of the end zone the entire night.
  • A player who helped himself significantly Friday was backup cornerback Nolan Carroll. He got a nice interception off Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert and returned it 22 yards to set up Miami’s second touchdown. Carroll is on the roster bubble and trying to claim one of those final roster spots at corner.
  • Miami rookie cornerback Will Davis may be the team’s most improved player in recent weeks. Davis was getting torched in the first half of training camp. But in the past week or so, the light has really come on and Davis is making plays. Davis got an impressive third-quarter interception where he outjumped the Jacksonville receiver. Davis also picked off Tannehill twice in practice on Tuesday, so this was a fitting cap to a good week.
  • Finally, it also was a good night for Dolphins rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Friday. He nailed field goals of 58 and 36 yards, made three extra points and produced four touchbacks on kickoffs. This was the first NFL game for Sturgis. He is competing with veteran incumbent Dan Carpenter for Miami’s kicking job. But Sturgis is the favorite because his salary is significantly less in 2013. Sturgis widened the lead after this debut performance.

Overall, it was a much better night for Miami compared to the Hall of Fame Game last Sunday. Miami will have its third preseason game Aug. 17 against the Houston Texans.

What to watch: Dolphins-Jaguars

August, 9, 2013
The Miami Dolphins will play their second preseason game in five days when they travel to face the Jacksonville Jaguars Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Miami lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 24-20, in the Hall of Fame Game last Sunday.

Here are three things to watch in Friday’s exhibition game for Miami:

1. Offensive-line play: The big men up front have been Miami’s most-maligned unit since the start of training camp. The Dolphins still have more questions than answers on their offensive line entering their second preseason game. Left tackle Jonathan Martin, who is one of the keys to the season, played mostly above the line in limited snaps against the Dallas Cowboys. Martin must develop consistency and it starts in the preseason. Other players like right guard Josh Samuda and backups like Dallas Thomas and Nate Garner must also prove to the coaching staff that they can provide depth, as well.

2. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill: Miami’s starting quarterback had an underwhelming performance in the preseason opener. Tannehill was 2-of-5 passing for 11 yards. Despite a small sample size, Tannehill missed a couple of throws and wasn’t accurate. He was also credited for a fumble during a botched hand off with running back Lamar Miller, although Miller probably deserved blame. Tannehill will get more playing time this week and needs to get in rhythm. He will have starting receiver Brian Hartline this week and possibly Mike Wallace, so there shouldn’t be any excuses. Tannehill has been up and down in training camp, including five combined interceptions in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday.

3. Miami’s tackling: The Dolphins’ coaching staff did not go overboard this week after the team’s poor tackling display against Dallas. It is not the first time a team struggled with fundamentals in the first exhibition of the year. However, Miami’s defense on all levels -- starters and backups -- must tackle better Friday night against Jacksonville or this will be considered a trend. The Dolphins must do much better against the run after allowing 170 rushing yards and 5.0 yards per carry against the Cowboys. Miami’s run defense is usually disciplined and needs to begin rounding back into form.
DAVIE, Fla. -- When it comes to the subject of poor preseason tackling, it’s all a matter of perspective with the Miami Dolphins.

There are some who believe the Dolphins’ tackling was so bad in last weekend's 24-20 preseason loss to the Dallas Cowboys that it must be a major point of emphasis moving forward. Others believe it's only the first exhibition game and there's no cause for concern.

[+] EnlargeMiami Dolphins defense
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsThe Miami Dolphins' defense allowed the Dallas Cowboys' backs to average 5.0 yards per carry in their preseason game on Aug. 4.
Miami's coaching staff is somewhere in between. They are certainly not happy about the lack of physicality and poor tackling last week. The Cowboys ran the ball 34 times for 170 yards, averaging 5.0 yards per carry.

But it's not "code red" for Miami's defense just yet.

“I thought that the tackling was poor, very bad. [But] it’s not a-typical of a lot of first preseason games that I’ve been involved with over the years,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle explained Wednesday. “I seem to remember many games where we’ve come back afterwards and spoke about how poor the tackling was.

“They’ve only had one true tackling experience and that was limited in the scrimmage the week before. All of a sudden the speed of the game increases, the angles change a little bit, and the backs are running harder maybe when they do when your tagging them off and that type of thing.”

Also keep in mind Miami sat potential defensive starters Jared Odrick, Randy Starks, Olivier Vernon and Dannell Ellerbe. That had something to do with the Dolphins’ shaky performance against the run.

The Dolphins have not done a ton of live tackling in training camp, partially due to the rules of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. But Miami has put a lot of time into form drills. That work didn’t show up in the first preseason game.

Miami will take the field next on Friday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, where the tackling certainly will be monitored. If poor tackling continues, the Dolphins' coaching staff hinted this week they may have to make some practice changes and perhaps turn up the intensity.

“We are going to have five preseason games where we are going to have roughly 350 snaps of defense, so we’ll take a look at it,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin explained. “Obviously nobody in the building or the organization is happy with the way we tackled starting with me. But we’ve addressed it, we’ve drilled it already and we will continue to do so.”

Tackling will be essential for Miami’s defense this season, and there is plenty of time to fix the issue. This was not a problem for Coyle's group last season. So it's too early to call poor tackling a trend, especially in the preseason.

“We have to be better, and we’ve worked hard this week, both days in practice I’m not sure if you guys have noticed, we were out there doing a number of tackling drills,” Coyle said. “However, I think over the course of preseason you’ll notice the tackling will improve and that’s something I think symbolic around the league as teams get more live contact work.”
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins continued their third week of training camp in preparation for Friday’s preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Here are some notes and observations from Wednesday's practice in full pads:
  • Miami top receiver Mike Wallace (groin) dressed for practice and fully participated for the first time in more than a week. Wallace also had the most impressive play of the day. He beat Miami cornerback Nolan Carroll deep for a 40-yard touchdown pass. The throw was made by Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Wallace said he expects to play Friday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, although head coach Joe Philbin was non-committal. “We’ll see how it goes,” Philbin said. “We haven’t made any final decisions of who is playing and final snaps. We will determine that. We will have a plan.”
  • Tannehill had an average day throwing the ball overall. He wasn't awful like Tuesday, when Tannehill threw four interceptions. Tannehill had the big play to Mike Wallace for a touchdown and made several other good throws. But Tannehill did have one interception in 7-on-7 drills to cornerback Dimitri Patterson. Tannehill’s performance in training camp has been up and down. He's thrown five interceptions in the past two practices.
  • Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was in attendance to watch training camp. Ross met with the media earlier Wednesday and said he’s hopeful for a playoff run after spending plenty of money this offseason to improve the team.
  • Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle had high praise for Derrick Shelby. The backup defensive end has been one of the pleasant surprises in training camp. Shelby led the Dolphins with two sacks in last weekend’s 24-20 preseason loss to the Dallas Cowboys. “I’m really pleased with Derrick,” Coyle said. “Derrick is a very sound, very technically efficient player. But I see more production out of Derrick, starting the other night. He’s always a guy that you can count on to be in the right place. He’s very dependable. Yet we saw that playmaking ability the other night and we’ve seen it throughout training camp. He’s been difficult to block.”
  • On the injury front, Dolphins starting running back Lamar Miller practiced but the team was careful with the workload after he was shaken up on Tuesday. Miller’s right foot was heavily taped. Dolphins third-string quarterback Pat Devlin (hand) also practiced. The team was without rookie corner Jamar Taylor and fullback Jorvorskie Lane.
  • There was also a John Jerry sighting in practice Wednesday. Miami’s starting guard didn’t dress but he’s been absent for a while after injuring his knee. His injury sent the offensive line scrambling. Jerry’s timetable is unknown. But the fact that he’s around the team this week is a good indication that he’s making progress for an eventual return.
  • The Dallas Thomas experiment continues. Miami tried Thomas out at right tackle on the second team for the first time in camp. Thomas has been struggling as the backup left tackle. He was particularly exposed on the left side in the Hall of Fame Game against the Cowboys. Thomas didn’t have a strong practice at right tackle either on Wednesday. I think his best position is guard, and it may be time to permanently move Thomas there before the rookie loses confidence. According to Philbin, the team wants to continue to experiment. “He’s got to work on his technique and fundamentals,” Philbin said. “That’s the only way to solve the problem. ... We have to continue to work on leverage, punch, timing of the punch and his feet.”

The Dolphins will be off on Thursday so they can travel to Jacksonville. Miami will play its second preseason game against the Jaguars on Friday.
CANTON, Ohio -- The new-look Miami Dolphins' offense could not get off to a worst start to the 2013 preseason. After spending millions on new weapons and earning a nice preseason buzz, their first play from scrimmage was a fumble in Sunday night’s 24-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill attempted a hand-off to starting tailback Lamar Miller for a routine running play. However, the ball bounced off Miller and fell forward into the hands of Dallas defensive tackle Nick Hayden. Tannehill was credited for the fumble, but much of the blame appeared to be on Miller.

Tannehill wasn’t sure how things went wrong.

“I guess Lamar and I aren’t on the same page,” Tannehill said Sunday night in the locker room. “It’s frustrating to start off like that. You come out, and something as simple as a hand-off goes awry. It’s definitely something that we will get corrected and it won’t happen again.”

The first play pretty much set the tone for the rest of the night, particularly with Miami’s starting offense.

The Tannehill-led Dolphins failed to produce points or move the ball with any consistency in two-and-a-half series of work. Miami’s offensive starters began a third series but were pulled by head coach Joe Philbin after Tannehill made a pair of completions. Tannehill finished the night 2-of-5 passing for 11 yards and a fumble.

Besides some strong runs by Miller, who had 21 rushing yards on two carries, there wasn’t much good to take out of this game for Miami’s starting offense. This group will go back to the drawing board to tighten some things up this week.

The good news for Miami is the preseason is just beginning. This team has a total of five exhibition games leading up to their regular-season opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 8.

Miami’s next preseason game will be Friday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After Sunday’s sloppy performance in Canton, there’s nowhere to go but up for Miami’s starting offense.

“It wasn’t our cleanest game or our best game,” Tannehill said. “I’m glad we can get that one out of the way early. We have four more preseason games before we get into the regular season. So hopefully this was our sloppy game.”
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins lost some depth at receiver Sunday with the season-ending knee injury to Armon Binns. But the team is quickly exploring outside options to see what’s available.

Free-agent receiver Laurent Robinson is scheduled to work out with Miami on Tuesday, a source confirmed. Robinson played with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.

Robinson recently signed a five-year, $32.5 million contract with Jacksonville but was released after one disappointing season. He caught just 24 receptions for 252 yards and zero touchdowns in 2012. Robinson also had concussion issues.

In the past week, Robinson also had workouts with the New England Patriots, New York Jets and Detroit Lions. The Dolphins, who have already spent more than $200 million in free-agency this offseason, are looking for another receiving threat off the bench behind starters Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and slot receiver Brandon Gibson.

The Dolphins will open their preseason schedule on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboy in the Hall of Fame Game. They also will have a scrimmage Monday night at 7 p.m. ET.

Thoughts on Jets, David Garrard

February, 28, 2013
The New York Jets continue their search to find a viable quarterback. The New York Daily News reports the Jets recently worked out veteran quarterback David Garrard.

Here are some quick-hit thoughts on the Jets and Garrard:
  • This falls in line with New York general manager John Idzik's declaration to add competition to the quarterback competition. Garrard made a good case to be the starter last year in Miami. He was the best quarterback in training camp, which also included Matt Moore and rookie Ryan Tannehill, until a back injury ended Garrard's season. If healthy, Garrard, 35, may be able to give struggling incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez a run for the job.
  • Working out Garrard makes sense from a schematic standpoint, as well. Garrard is a West Coast quarterback. He had success with it in Jacksonville and also showed very little learning curve with Miami's West Coast scheme. New Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is changing New York from a ground-and-pound offense to a precision passing, West Coast team. This gives Garrard a chance to thrive.
  • Finally, this further signals the end for Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow. The Jets are looking to add a veteran to compete with Sanchez and probably a developmental quarterback via the draft. If the Jets sign Garrard or any veteran, that makes Tebow the odd man out. New York is hoping Tebow could bring back value with a trade. But the market for Tebow appears non-existent.
New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow had, by far, the worst season of his three-year career in the NFL. He was a non-factor for the Jets and was passed over multiple times to be a starter, despite struggles by Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.

But Tebow spoke for the first time since the Jets (6-10) ended their disappointing season. Tebow had a choice between the Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars in an offseason trade last year and picked New York.

“I don't have any regrets," Tebow said in an interview with the Fox Business Network. "I believe everything happens for a reason. I don't know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future and in that there is a lot of peace and a lot of comfort."

Tebow deflected questions about where he will play next season. Multiple reports have linked Tebow to Jacksonville, mainly because that’s his hometown and the team had interest in him last season. Regardless of where Tebow plays in 2013, it won’t be for the Jets. The Tebow era in New York was a one-and-done affair.
Here are the most interesting stories Tuesday in the AFC East: Morning take: I would say No. 1 or No. 2 along with the Denver Broncos. We could have another Tom Brady-Peyton Manning showdown if both teams stay focused this weekend.
  • The Buffalo Bills are reportedly seeking to interview Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker for their similar opening.
Morning take: Tucker has been a defensive coordinator since 2008 with Cleveland and Jacksonville. Tucker and New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine are the early candidates.
Morning take: Cavanaugh failed to make Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow better; in fact, both players regressed this season. So this was no surprise.
Morning take: Miami exceeded expectations with a 7-9 record, and has plenty of cap room and draft picks to make a jump. Things could get interesting for the Dolphins in 2013.

Video: Patriots-Jaguars preview

December, 20, 2012

Prim Siripipat goes inside the numbers for the New England-Jacksonville matchup.
The New York Jets laughably will attempt to trade former starting quarterback Mark Sanchez and his guaranteed $8.25 million salary for next season. That's not going to happen.

But a more realistic possibility is the Jets shipping fellow backup quarterback Tim Tebow to another team.

ESPNNew's Rich Cimini reports the Jets will look to trade both quarterbacks. While Sanchez is overpriced and underproductive, Tebow could have some value on the trade market. He is a proven winner with an affordable contract. The Jets won't ask for much, perhaps just a low-round draft pick, to move away from Tebowmania.

What are some possible destinations for Tebow?

The AFC East blog examines.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Analysis: The Jaguars were in a bidding war for the Jets last year for Tebow. He is a Jacksonville native and former star at the University of Florida in nearby Gainesville. Both teams offered the same compensation, and Tebow had his choice. He unwisely chose the Jets because they were a better team. But New York botched the Tebow experiment so bad that you wonder if Tebow regrets not joining his hometown team. Jacksonville may still be open-minded about getting Tebow a year later, especially at a cheaper price. Tebow could immediately boost ticket sales, which the Jaguars desperately need. Jacksonville also is in the market for a quarterback, and Tebow could compete for the job there.

Chances: Decent

New England Patriots

Analysis: It's hard to imagine the Jets trading with their biggest rival. But if they want to get rid of Tebow bad enough, the Patriots may be willing to take him in. New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is the former head coach who drafted Tebow in Denver. The Patriots also met with Tebow during the pre-draft process and liked his character and work ethic. They also have a coaching staff creative enough to utilize Tebow's strengths. New England is notorious for taking downtrodden players when their values are its lowest. Sometimes it works out (Randy Moss, Corey Dillon, Aqib Talib) and sometimes it doesn't (Albert Haynesworth, Chad Johnson). But in all cases, the Patriots "bought low" and therefore have no problem cutting bait if necessary.

Chances: Average

Green Bay Packers

Analysis: NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert explained that Green Bay spoke very highly of Tebow before the 2010 draft. This is an organization with a proven track record for developing quarterbacks, and perhaps Green Bay can make something out of Tebow. Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers also needs a backup. The Packers lost Matt Flynn to free agency last year and currently has a shaky No. 2 quarterback in Graham Harrell. Tebow for a very cheap price could be a possibility. He is a better option behind Rodgers than Harrell.

Chances: Average

New Orleans Saints

Analysis: NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas brought up this intriguing, dark-horse possibility. Yasinskas pointed out that Sean Payton is returning from his year-long suspension and has the creative offensive mind to utilize Tebow, perhaps as a tailback, H-back or tight end. Tebow should be more open-minded about a position change after this year's debacle in New York. But this may be a long shot.

Chances: Remote

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 24, Jaguars 3

December, 16, 2012

MIAMI -- Here are some thoughts on the Dolphins' 24-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars:

What it means: It means Miami (6-8) won its first game in December and snapped a two-game losing streak. The Dolphins are trying to finish the year strong and continue to progress under a rookie quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) and rookie coach (Joe Philbin). Miami has already matched last year’s win total by beating Jacksonville (2-12) on Sunday with two games remaining.

Henne's rough homecoming: The Dolphins made sure to make Chad Henne's homecoming a rough one. Henne, Miami's second-round pick in 2008, played his former team for the first time and couldn't get in the end zone. Miami's defense knows Henne well and exposed him. He was 18-of-34 for 221 yards in a losing effort. Henne also was sacked twice and led Jacksonville to just three points.

Tannehill solid: Henne's replacement in Miami, Tannehill, played a solid game against the Jaguars. Tannehill made plays with his arms and his legs. He completed 22 of 28 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, Tannehill added 52 rushing yards. The Dolphins appeared willing to let Tannehill use his mobility more in this game. He had several designed runs that caught Jacksonville off-guard.

Fourth-down blues: Overall this was a sloppy game, and that was shown in the fourth-down execution. Jacksonville failed to convert on fourth-and-1 on two occasions, and Miami ran a head-scratching fake field goal in the third quarter. Miami kicker Dan Carpenter lined up for a chip shot, but punter/holder Brandon Fields caught the ball and threw it way out of bounds. The Dolphins could have gone up 10 points at the time. But Jacksonville is so bad that it didn't matter.

What’s next: The Dolphins will return to AFC East play for the remainder of the season. First, Miami will host the Buffalo Bills next weekend at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins will wrap up their 2012 season on the road against the division-champion New England Patriots. Miami lost to both teams in the first meetings.

Jaguars-Dolphins halftime notes

December, 16, 2012
MIAMI – The Miami Dolphins lead the Jacksonville Jaguars, 10-3, at halftime.

Here are several thoughts at intermission:
  • Chad Henne's return to Miami has been a mixed bag. He started fast by putting together a 10-play scoring drive to start the game. Jacksonville settled for a field goal. Since then, Henne has been cold. He's missed a few makeable throws and is bothered by Miami’s pressure. Henne is 9-of-14 for 96 yards in the first half.
  • Miami tailback Reggie Bush is struggling to find running lanes. Jacksonville is making a strong effort to stop Miami’s ground attack and held Bush to just 25 yards on 8 carries. The Dolphins are thin at receiver without Davone Bess. That makes their passing game easier to defend.
  • Miami’s secondary suffered a couple of injuries. First, starting safety Chris Clemons suffered a neck stinger in the first quarter and sat out the remainder of the first half. Then, cornerback Nolan Carroll suffered a knee injury in the second quarter. Both players are questionable to return.
  • Overall, the Dolphins have played down to their competition. Miami looks sloppy and committed a bad turnover on quarterback Ryan Tannehill's fumble, although it didn't cost the team any points. The Dolphins are clearly a better team. They have a chance to put the game away early in the second half and not let Jacksonville hang around to try to pull off the upset.

Final Word: AFC East

December, 7, 2012
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 14:

Protecting Brady: The New England Patriots' biggest key to success is protecting quarterback Tom Brady, and they will have a tall task blocking the Houston Texans on "Monday Night Football." Houston is third in the NFL with 36 sacks, and defensive end J.J. Watt is second in the NFL with 16.5 sacks. New England’s pass protection has been up and down this season. Brady has been sacked in nine games, including last week when the Patriots allowed four sacks against the Miami Dolphins. Houston and Watt will be bringing the heat to disrupt Brady, and the Patriots have to do a better job of keeping Brady upright.

[+] EnlargeChris Johnson
AP Photo/Wade PayneThe Texans could have trouble finding room to run against Vince Wilfork, right, and the Patriots.
Focus on Foster: The Texans can beat you in a variety of ways, but their first option is the running game. Houston runs the ball more than any other NFL team at 34.4 attempts per game. Texans running back Arian Foster is fifth in the NFL with 1,102 yards and first with 13 rushing touchdowns. He is the engine for the Texans. In Houston’s only defeat, Foster rushed for 29 yards on 17 carries in a 42-24 loss against the Green Bay Packers. The Patriots have a physical front seven and are ninth against the run. So expect a war of attrition in the trenches.

Sanchez’s time to respond: New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez returns under center against the Jacksonville Jaguars after getting benched last week in the third quarter. This was a stern wake-up call for the four-year starter. Sanchez has a good chance to have a bounce-back game Sunday against the lowly Jaguars (2-10). The Jaguars are 28th against the pass and 31st against the run, which is tailor-made for the offensively inept Jets. New York coach Rex Ryan proved once that he’s not afraid to pull Sanchez if he’s playing poorly. Expect Sanchez to be on a short leash.

Martin vs. Smith: Miami rookie Jonathan Martin will make his first NFL start at left tackle Sunday at the San Francisco 49ers. Martin's reward: San Francisco pass-rusher Aldon SmithJake Long (triceps) for the season this week and put him on injured reserve. Long will be an unrestricted free agent in March. Martin has a four-game audition for the left tackle spot. If Martin does a good job, starting this week against Smith, the rookie could replace Long next season.

Buffalo's shift at center: The Buffalo Bills lost starting center Eric Wood for the next two to four weeks with a knee injury. If last season was any indication, this is awful news for the Bills. Wood is one of the top leaders on offense, but he has been injury prone. Wood missed seven games last season with an ACL tear, and the Bills were 1-6 without him. Buffalo has been working guard Kraig Urbik and rookie David Snow at center this week.