AFC East: Jets-Dolphins 101209

How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch

November, 3, 2009
11/03/09
11:00
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Falling

  Ryan
1. Rex Ryan's rhetoric: All of the bold talk that sounded like the bravado of a proud papa when the Jets were 3-0 now sounds like the words of a man trying to convince himself his team is as good as he thought it was.

The Jets have gone 1-4 since their hot start and enter their bye week with an uninspiring .500 record. Ryan's big talk about his boys and occasional shots at the opposition are ringing hollow.

2. Dolphins offense: The Wildcat was a savage weapon up until two games ago. The Saints and Jets, a team that had been abused by the Wildcat three weeks earlier, stymied the direct-snap offense.

Sophomore quarterback Chad Henne has struggled, too. He won his first two NFL starts and posted an astronomical 130.4 passer rating in Week 5. The Dolphins then went on their bye, and in the two games since, Henne has one touchdown and has a 52.6 passer rating.

3. Bills quarterback situation: The Bills must be longing for the days of a quarterback controversy. By definition, that would mean a debate exists about the merits of two men. In this case, the Bills don't seem to have one desirable option.

Concussed starter Trent Edwards was lacking when healthy. The Bills were playing so poorly under his direction that backup Ryan Fitzpatrick had a shot to seize the job. He actually won two of the three games he played -- thanks to the defense. Buffalo's offense got worse. Edwards is expected to be healthy for Week 10. What difference will it make?

Rising

  Ginn
1. Ted Ginn, Dolphins kick returner: He occupied the No. 1 spot in the falling category last week as a receiver, and rightfully so. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano stripped Ginn of his starting job in the offense. Only one pass went his way Sunday, and it was incomplete.

But Ginn provided high voltage in the opportunities given. He became the first NFL player to score two touchdowns of 100 yards or longer when he returned back-to-back kickoffs all the way in the third quarter. He finished with 299 kickoff return yards, second-most in league history.

  Keller
2. Dustin Keller, Jets tight end: The last time he played the Dolphins, he had zero receptions and was targeted once. In that game plus the next two, he had a combined three receptions for 42 yards and no touchdowns.

In Sunday's rematch with Miami, Mark Sanchez fired to Keller three times on third down, twice on fourth down and once for an unsuccessful two-point conversion. Sanchez went to Keller to convert a critical fourth-and-10 play and threw to him on their final shot at the end of the game (Sanchez overthrew him). Keller finished with eight catches for 76 yards, both game-highs. Six of his receptions were for first downs or a touchdown.

  Wilson
3. Gibril Wilson, Dolphins safety: A couple other Dolphins defenders deserve an honorable mention: defensive tackle Paul Soliai (six tackles, a pass deflection, the forced fumble Jason Taylor returned for a touchdown) and defensive end Randy Starks (seven solos, big sack of Sanchez on the final drive).

But I went with Wilson because he has been maligned all season for poor tackling and -- like Ginn -- lost his starting job to a rookie but made the most of the plays he was given at the Meadowlands. Wilson was credited with seven solo tackles, and he razed Sanchez twice. Wilson recorded one sack, while the other hit sent Sanchez staggering off the field.

Calls and Effect: AFC East penalty tracker

October, 17, 2009
10/17/09
12:55
PM ET
We've already hammered the Buffalo Bills enough this week about their proclivity for yellow flags.

Plenty has been written about their league-leading 51 flags and league-leading 44 accepted penalties and left tackle Demetrius Bell topping the NFL with eight calls all to his lonesome despite missing a game.
AFC East team-by-team penalties
Team Players Flagged Total Flags Accepted Yards
Buffalo Bills 31 51 44 336
Miami Dolphins 19 32 28 243
New England Patriots 21 34 28 241
New York Jets 20 34 30 237

Let's mention something positive about the Bills' penalty count.

They have not committed defensive pass interference yet this year.

In fact, a third of the nine teams that haven't committed defensive pass interference are in the AFC East.

The New England Patriots and New York Jets haven't been called for it either.

Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Allen, however, has been found guilty a league-high three times for 55 yards. Officials have charged Tennessee Titans cornerback Nick Harper three times, but for only 14 yards.

To be fair, Allen's first two calls were for 2 and 4 yards, but the latter came on third down and extended a San Diego Chargers touchdown drive in Week 3. The call at the goal line while defending Jets receiver Braylon Edwards on Monday night was dubious, but it went for 49 yards. The Jets scored on the next play.

The 49-yard penalty alone is more than all but one other NFL player's season total. Dallas Cowboys tackle Flozell Adams has been flagged seven times for 51 yards. Allen also has been penalized 4 yards for illegal contact and 10 yards for a personal foul that went half the distance to the goal line to put him in the league lead for most yards assessed.

Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell also has a pass interference for 15 yards. Five other clubs have committed defensive pass interference four times, but the Dolphins' 70 yards match the Pittsburgh Steelers for most surrendered.
AFC East Penalty Tracker
Player Team Pos. Flagged* Yards
Will Allen Dolphins CB 5 69
Mark Sanchez Jets QB 4 47
D'Brickashaw Ferguson Jets LT 3 30
Kawika Mitchell Bills LB 2 30
Jairus Byrd Bills S 2 28
Demetrius Bell Bills LT 8 25
Vince Wilfork Patriots DT 3 20
Geoff Hangartner Bills C 2 20
Kendall Langford Dolphins DE 2 20
Matt Light Patriots LT 2 20
Erik Walden Dolphins LB 2 20
Damien Woody Jets RT 4 17
Chris Baker Patriots TE 2 16
Shawn Nelson Bills TE 2 16
Eric Wood Bills LG 4 15
*Includes declined and offsetting penalties

Your AFC East mailbag delivered

October, 17, 2009
10/17/09
8:52
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


Charles in Vicksburg, Miss., can't understand why Bills fans would want the front office to fire head coach Dick Jauron. He notes the Bills are only two games out of first place with at least one game remaining against each AFC East opponent. "Throwing away the season right now is just ludicrous," Charles says.

I love your spirit, Charles. You're one of the last holdouts of Bills optimism. I don't think it matters one bit whether the Bills fire Jauron. Regardless of who the coach is, they're in too deep of a hole, too banged up and too out of synch. Mathematically, you are correct the Bills can make up substantial ground with six AFC East games left, but the other teams have at least one divisional victory already, and the Bills have lost their past eight in a row.


Clay from Sacramento, Calif., takes offense to my post that points out Tom Brady has been about average in many statistical categories. Clay writes, "To measure the effectiveness of an NFL quarterback in the manner you have done is, for lack of a better word, idiotic." Clay thinks fantasy football geeks are ruining football. "The obsession with statistics in a team sport like football," Clay says, "is causing generally intelligent people, like yourself, to judge a three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback based on their statistics over a five-game span."

Five games is a third of the season. If that's an insignificant sample, then Charles in Vicksburg comes off as coherent. But if you don't like data, how about this? Based strictly on my observations and not taking a single statistic into consideration, Brady -- a great quarterback, mind you -- is playing at a mediocre level right now. There you go. I've delivered the same message that upset you in my post without mentioning a single stat.


In reaction to the same Brady post, Mike in Halifax, Mass., takes the time out of his day to write "I dislike you as a writer, or shall a say a data collector." He says he "hates articles like this" and instructs me to "get a life."

Sadly, a big part of my life is getting paid by ESPN to gather analytical material for reader consumption in the hopes of getting them to read my blog and, if I'm lucky, click on my mailbag to drop me a line. And I reveal that with a heavy heart.


Wil in Albuquerque, N.M., clearly doesn't get out much. He calls my AFC East trade-deadline analysis a "killer article. Way to have the pulse of all the situations congrats on the excellent piece of journalism!"

Thanks, Wil. The reason that story worked is because I didn't use any stats and resorted to pure speculation. As Mike and Clay point out, facts are for suckers.


Masoud in Fairfax, Va., wants to know if I thought Rex Ryan's quotes after getting beaten Monday night were disrespectful to the Miami Dolphins.

Only slightly, Masoud. Ryan did cross a line when he said of Chad Henne "We made that quarterback look like Dan Marino." While that was the snippet that caught everyone's attention, Ryan quickly added before drawing his next breath that Henne "was pretty good, though. He deserves credit." I thought Ryan delivered his postgame comments with the intention of blistering his team. In the process, Ryan insulted the Dolphins a tad. No biggie in my book.


Lee in Columbia, Mo., wants to know how long the Monday night's game lasted.

Not your typical mailbag question, but I have that answer. The game kicked off at 8:38 p.m. EDT and ended at 11:42 p.m. That's a duration of 3 hours, 4 minutes.


Brian in Albany, N.Y., wants to know if I've heard the rumor Mike Holmgren might join the Bills with full organizational control.

I haven't heard that one aside from the usual shotgun theories involving every unemployed big-name coach such as Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden and Holmgren. But I would be ecstatic for Bills fans if football operations were to be turned over to someone who could establish front-office credibility. I'm pessimistic Ralph Wilson would do that, but I'd love to see a proven football mind be given authority.


Mr. Anonymous from Nashville writes "I just discovered your blog this week. I like the tone and the substance. Looks like ESPN has made their best decision since getting Buster Olney."

Do you and Wil ever get together in New Mexico to take turns hitting each other in the forehead with tire irons? In all seriousness, thank you for being delusional in my favor.

An analytical look at Wildcat X's and O's

October, 16, 2009
10/16/09
11:32
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


I wanted to pass along an enlightening dissection about why the Miami Dolphins' Wildcat offense works so well.

Chris Brown, the author of SmartFootball.com and a contributor to the New York Times' blog "The Fifth Down," provides a running dialogue with Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders while watching Monday night's victory over the New York Jets.

The Dolphins ran 16 Wildcat plays for 110 yards, attaining six first downs and a touchdown.

A recap here won't do the conversation justice, and it's more interesting to read their comments as the game moves along. So I urge you to check it out.

Here are two of Brown's observations:

"The Dolphins use the Wildcat so well because they understand it better than other teams. To other teams it's a trick play -- to the Dolphins it is a package they run, just like some teams practice a three-tight end or five-wide set. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are their best weapons, and this puts the ball in their hands. They can also use Pat White in spot duty where he can be effective, and, most importantly, the numbers and angles they get puts their offensive line in position to block well."

"You can't help but get the impression that the Dolphins do more with less than just about any team in the NFL. If schemes have any role in a league about 'matchups' and 'playmakers,' it's their ability to give the undermanned team a chance to compete by giving them numbers advantages and putting their players in position to succeed."

Cotchery injury puts more on Clowney, Keller

October, 15, 2009
10/15/09
5:37
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


By the sound of Rex Ryan's analysis of the injury report, the New York Jets probably will have to play the Buffalo Bills on Sunday without receiver Jerricho Cotchery.

 
 Marc Serota/Getty Images
 David Clowney had four receptions for 72 yards against the Dolphins.
Cotchery didn't practice for the second day in a row because of a hamstring problem.

"It doesn’t look very good," Ryan said after Thursday's practice in Florham Park, N.J.

Cotchery, the club's No. 1 receiver before Braylon Edwards came aboard from Cleveland, missed practice time last week and was listed as questionable for Monday night's game against the Miami Dolphins. But Cotchery played and caught one pass for 4 yards.

"You never know," Ryan said. "Some of these guys really know their body and the fact that he finished the game, he had almost 30 reps, I think is a positive thing. He's just sore."

Cotchery's injury increases the importance of third receiver David Clowney and tight end Dustin Keller. Clowney had four receptions for 72 yards against the Dolphins, but Keller was thrown to only once and didn't have a catch.

"He's certainly a threat," Ryan said of Keller, "but I think some games there are going to be more opportunities for David Clowney, for Braylon, for whoever, and then sometimes it swings back around for Dustin Keller or your running backs.

"You don't want to force the issue, though. That's when you get into trouble. If for whatever reason they're playing a certain type of coverage, where they're doubling Dustin, then you've got to look at different spots."

Keller's season has been disappointing so far. He has a dozen receptions for 171 yards and one touchdown.

"He's got to keep working to get open," Ryan said. "He's a great athlete. To me, he's one of the premier receiving tight ends in the game. Hopefully we can get him on track and get him some passes. That will be another great weapon."

Lookie here: Williams on pace for 1,000 yards

October, 15, 2009
10/15/09
1:31
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Steve Mitchell-US Presswire
Running back Ricky Williams could be on his way to reaching a significant milestone.

Two summers ago, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams talked openly about becoming the fourth running back tandem in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards apiece.

Their plan didn’t work out too well.

Brown fell 74 yards short of the mark. Williams gained a respectable 659 yards, but nowhere close to what he hoped.

Through five games, however, both are on track to accomplish the rare NFL feat.

As the Dolphins head into their bye week with essentially a third of the season behind them, Brown has rushed for 443 yards, putting him on pace the end the regular season with 1,417 yards.

Williams has rushed for 316 yards, projecting him to finish with 1,011 yards if he can keep it up.

Williams would make history.

It would be the fifth 1,000-yard season of his career, but his first since 2003. Five running backs have gone five years between 1,000-yard campaigns, but nobody has waited six years.

The list of players who went the longest between milestone seasons:
  • Mike Garrett 1967 and 1972
  • Ottis Anderson 1984 and 1989
  • Ernest Byner 1985 and 1990
  • Gary Brown 1993 and 1998
  • Mike Anderson 2000 and 2005

To save you the trouble of going to Google search, the other running back tandems to rush for 1,000 yards apiece were Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris for the Dolphins in 1972, Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1976, Kevin Mack and Byner for the Cleveland Browns in 1985 and Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs for the New York Giants last year. Warrick Dunn and quarterback Michael Vick also eclipsed 1,000 yards for the Atlanta Falcons in 2006.

Ryan calls Monday's loss 'blunt force trauma'

October, 14, 2009
10/14/09
9:02
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


If you were wondering what New York Jets rookie head coach Rex Ryan's philosophy will be about Monday night's humbling, 31-27 loss to the Miami Dolphins, here is what he had to say Wednesday:

"It's blunt force trauma. We accept that. We always say 'You’ve got to have skin like an armadillo.' We all know that's not skin, but so what? We all know what it means. That's what you have to have. Same thing on me, on the coaches, on each other. That's just the reality of it.

"We never played well. Done. End of conversation. That's in the past. We're focusing on the future. Do I think we have a lot of ability? Can we play a lot better than that? Yes. We went the first four games giving up three touchdowns, but we did that in the fourth quarter alone [Monday night]. That's it. It is what it is. There's no way in heck I would've ever thought that would happen. I never knew it. That's never happened to me before in my life. Again, that's over with.

"I think the challenge in front of us is we've got to get better as a football team, whatever that means. Whether it's running the football, protecting the quarterback, catching the pass, finding a way to get extra yards somewhere, special teams, defense. Whatever it is, we've got to find a way to get better. We haven't been good enough the last two weeks."

Dolphins still laughing over Jets victory

October, 14, 2009
10/14/09
8:15
PM ET
The Miami Dolphins are doing all of the talking now.

And you better believe the New York Jets are listening for future motivation. They'll play again at the Meadowlands.

Jets outside linebacker Calvin Pace was talking softly Wednesday, but after the Dolphins ran 16 Wildcat plays for 110 yards, Pace was fuming Monday night:

"I can't respect that stuff, all that Wildcat. We’re in the NFL. Don’t come here with that nonsense."


Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder replied Wednesday.

"We nonsensed their [butt] all the way up and down the field," Crowder said in a blog by Palm Beach Post reporter Edgar Thompson. "Nonsense, I love nonsense. They say gimmick, gimmick this, gimmick that. We've won games with the Wildcat.

"They ran two fake punts [for first downs on scoring drives]. So if you're going to say gimmicks, those are real gimmicks. Wildcat is an offensive formation. They have thousands of plays on film about it. Go stop it.

"Shut up about all the junk talking. We'll see them in three more weeks, so the hell with them."

Added Dolphins running back and Wildcat conductor Ronnie Brown: "I think we’re all afraid of what we do not understand."

Is Chad Henne a clown? Does he amuse you?

October, 14, 2009
10/14/09
5:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


The New York Jets are going to have to try an awful lot harder to insult Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne.

  Henne
"Been through it," Henne said Wednesday at his weekly news conference.

The Jets were flabbergasted at their inability to keep Henne from riddling their defense Monday night. Henne, in his second NFL start, completed 20 of 26 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in a rollicking 31-27 victory at Land Shark Stadium.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan disgustedly said "We made that quarterback look like Dan Marino."

Jets outside linebacker Calvin Pace said "Against a second-year clown quarterback, we didn’t affect him enough. I guess you have to give him credit. The defense lost the game today."

Henne, a second-round draft pick out of Michigan, shrugged off those comments as minor-league compared to what heard from Ohio State fans.

"There is a song on the Internet when we played Ohio State, where there's a song about me," Henne said. "So if you haven’t heard that, it’s a pretty good song."

The song is about as filthy as Tommy DeVito's dialogue with Henry Hill in "Goodfellas" and can't be excerpted or even linked here in good moral conscience. "Dr. Choke" and a "piece of human scum" are the nicest references the singer drops on Henne.

Oh, and he's called the "the biggest clown in Ann Arbor Town." In fact, the last word in the song is "clown."

"My fiancee actually has it on her iPod and she listens to it," Henne said with a laugh. "She loves it. We just joke around. It's a good one."

As for a direct response to Pace or Ryan, Henne was genteel.

"You know guys after the game, probably just in the heat of the moment and didn't realize what he was saying," Henne said. "You just blow that by, and you don't even pay attention to that because we're going to play them again and get another shot at it. We just worry about our win after the game, not what everybody else says.”

How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch

October, 13, 2009
10/13/09
11:51
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


Falling

Ryan
Rex Ryan's defense. The New York Jets rookie head coach said he was embarrassed for not having his defense better prepared to stop the Miami Dolphins, who pretty much did whatever they wanted Monday night. The Dolphins unleashed the Wildcat. Chad Henne picked them apart through the air.

The Jets went into the game ranked fourth in total defense, 13th in run defense and fifth in pass defense. Ryan's aggressive style was supposed to be showcased against a Dolphins offense that gave up six sacks a week earlier against the Buffalo Bills.

Parrish
Roscoe Parrish, Bills receiver and punt returner. Parrish wanted out of Buffalo shortly after they signed Terrell Owens. Parrish saw the writing on the wall. He was going to get balls thrown his way only after Owens, Lee Evans and Josh Reed got theirs, and probably after Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson and whomever was at tight end, too.

Parrish didn't get his wish, and despite agent Drew Rosenhaus's attempts to orchestrate a trade by planting rumors Parrish was on the block -- even though Parrish later admitted the Bills didn't want to deal him -- he's still in Orchard Park. Parrish has one catch for 5 yards and muffed a punt inside the final three minutes to give the Cleveland Browns a gift field goal and 6-3 victory.

Edwards
Trent Edwards, Bills quarterback. Buffalo's supposed quarterback of the future seems to regress every week. Of course, it's not totally his fault. He's often scrambling for his life because he's (not) protected by a line that's thinner on talent than it is experience, and that's saying something.

Edwards was among the NFL's passing leaders a couple weeks into the season, but he's 19th now. He has been saddled with the unflattering nickname Captain Checkdown, reflected in his 58.1 completion percentage. But he's averaging 6.4 yards per attempt (23rd in the league). He has thrown five touchdowns and six interceptions.

Rising

Henne
Chad Henne, Dolphins quarterback. The sophomore from Michigan was pressed into service several months ahead of schedule when Chad Pennington suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 3. But Henne is 2-0 as a starter and introduced himself to NFL fans with a fantastic game Monday night.

In a thrilling 31-27 victory over the Jets, Henne completed 20 of 26 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He had a 130.4 passer rating, something Pennington didn't accomplish last year. And Pennington ranks in the top-10 all-time in passer rating.

Edwards
Braylon Edwards, Jets receiver. Edwards made a nice first impression by showing everyone exactly why the Jets acquired him last Wednesday from the Cleveland Browns. Edwards, a big-play threat who became known for his drops and off-field misbehavior, looked more like the player who caught 80 passes and 16 touchdowns in 2007.

In a game where the Jets scored three touchdowns, Edwards greatly influenced all of them. He caught five passes for 64 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown. He had another score reversed on a spot review. The Jets scored two plays later. He also drew a pass interference call near the goal line to set up another touchdown.

Miami's Wildcat offense. The Dolphins called their direct-snap offense 16 times for 110 yards from scrimmage, six first downs and the winning touchdown. Observers continue to wonder when defenses will catch up with the Wildcat and render it extinct, but the Dolphins keep using it with great success.

"That was our offense," Dolphins outside linebacker Joey Porter said. "So to all the Wildcat haters, and to say our offense is a fluke: Keep thinking it's a fluke if you want to."

Jauron's feeble poll position weakening

October, 13, 2009
10/13/09
10:11
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


Whether Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson minds is another story, but those who cared enough to submit a vote in this week's SportsNation NFL head coach approval ratings are even less impressed with Dick Jauron than they were last week.

Yes, it is mathematically possible. But barely.
 Jauron


Jauron's approval rating dipped to 3 percent at times last week, but he officially closed the poll at 4 percent.

This week, he's solidly at 3 percent already with a large volume of votes cast. Jauron has elicited nearly 3,500 votes as of this posting Tuesday morning. Nobody else had more than 1,100 votes, while several coaches had generated just a couple hundred.

What makes the torrent of disgust against Jauron even more remarkable is that he's not a lightning-rod figure such as Bill Belichick, Eric Mangini or Wade Phillips, who draw votes from haters. Anybody taking the time to vote on Jauron almost certainly is a Bills fan or from the Buffalo area. Jauron doesn't have haters.

Miami Dolphins and New York Jets fans still must've been bleary-eyed after Monday night's tremendous game, a 31-27 Dolphins victory in Land Shark Stadium.

Jets coach Rex Ryan was 10th in the poll with an 85 percent approval rating. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano was 15th at 75 percent, but only a couple of precincts had reported. I suspect those numbers will change quickly.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was in 18th place at 45 percent.

In striking range, Dolphins thrilled to be 2-3

October, 13, 2009
10/13/09
2:26
AM ET
Douglas Jones/US Presswire
Ronnie Brown and the Dolphins charged back into the AFC East race.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


MIAMI -- The mood in the Miami Dolphins' locker room was joyous. You could feel the combination of relief, excitement and confidence.

Never have they felt so good about a losing record.

"I'm very thrilled," nose tackle Jason Ferguson said after Monday night's dramatic 31-27 victory over the New York Jets in Land Shark Stadium. "We're almost peeping out the hole."

Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown punched in a Wildcat run from 2 yards out for the winning touchdown with six seconds left on the game clock. The thrilling finish capped a frenetic fourth quarter that involved five lead changes and injected life into a team that appeared to have flat-lined.

"Oh, we're where we want to be," Dolphins outside linebacker Joey Porter said.

You can sense it in the Dolphins' locker room: They know they're good.

Yet three weeks into the season, the Dolphins were afterthoughts. They were winless. Chad Pennington, their quarterback and leader, was done for the year with a shoulder injury. A hamstring injury sidelined Porter, their defensive engine.

The outlook was remarkably bleak for the defending AFC East champs.

Check where they are now: they head into their bye week an unimpressive 2-3 in the standings, but back in the divisional race with a bullet.

The Dolphins are one game out of first place. The Jets and New England Patriots are tied at 3-2, but they each have a division loss. The Dolphins are the lone AFC East team without one.

"This is a crazy feeling, but it could have been worse," Porter said. "For it to happen like it did, I'd definitely take 2-3 over 1-4."

The defensive-oriented Dolphins and Jets weren't supposed to take torches to the silos, but a barn burner it was, particularly in the fourth quarter.

Miami quarterback Chad Henne was sensational. In his second pro start, Pennington's heir completed 20 of 26 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Chad Henne vs. Jets
-- Play Action No Play Action
Comp-Att 7-7 13-19
Yards 140 101
TD 2 0
Passer Rtg. 158.3 81.3

ESPN Stats & Information broke down Henne's numbers and found that he completed all seven of his play-action pass attempts for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

"We made that quarterback look like Dan Marino," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "He was pretty good, though. He deserves credit. ... It was just a horrendous day for our defense."

The Jets didn't have any better luck stopping the Wildcat.

The Dolphins called their direct-snap offense 16 times for 110 yards from scrimmage, six first downs and the winning touchdown.

"That was our offense," Porter said with a grin. "So to all the Wildcat haters, and to say our offense is a fluke: Keep thinking it's a fluke if you want to."
Miami's Wildcat on Monday
-- Wildcat Other plays
Plays 16 48
Yards 110 303
Yds per play 6.9 6.3
TD 1 3
Game Winning Drive
-- Wildcat Other plays
Plays 4 9
Yards 25 50
Yds per play 6.3 5.6
TD 1 0

Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez was decent in bouncing back from his dreadful performance in the Week 4 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Sanchez completed half of his 24 attempts for 172 yards and one touchdown without an interception.

Sanchez didn't hesitate to look for Braylon Edwards, acquired in a trade from the Cleveland Browns five days earlier. Edwards was astounding. He finished with five receptions, a couple of them sensational, for 64 yards and a touchdown.

But each time the Jets delivered a staggering blow, the Dolphins countered with an uppercut. Much like the season, these Dolphins refuse to go down.

It would've been easy to crumble. They looked pedestrian in their season-opening defeat to the Atlanta Falcons, held the ball for a jaw-dropping 45:07 yet still managed to lose at home to the Indianapolis Colts and tumbled to 0-3 with a loss to the San Diego Chargers.

Pennington -- and Miami's playoff hopes -- departed San Diego in a sling. Since the NFL went to its current playoff format in 1990, three teams have opened a season 0-3 and reached the playoffs. None have advanced to the Super Bowl.

The Dolphins, however, did not waver. They have faith all things are possible and don't have to think back too far for evidence of miracles. They pulled off the greatest turnaround in NFL history last year, rebounding from one victory in 2007 to win the division.

"There are a lot of guys that were on that 1-15 team," Porter said. "We easily could've had that thought in our mind that is was over. We lost Chad. I was hurt. Everything just wasn't going in our favor.

"We easily could've hung our heads, but we have coaches and players on this team with a belief that we can win."

Breaking down Henne's monster night

October, 13, 2009
10/13/09
2:23
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


MIAMI -- No matter how you break down the numbers, Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne had a phenomenal night.
Henne Passing by Distance-to-go
-- 10+ yds Fewer than 10
Comp-Att 11-13 9-13
Yards 133 108
TD 1 1
Passer Rtg. 134.9 120.0

While the quirky Wildcat offense attracts much of the attention because it makes for good video, let's take a moment to digest how well Henne performed in Monday night's 31-27 victory over the New York Jets in Land Shark Stadium.

In his second NFL start, Henne completed 20 of 26 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He had a 130.4 passer rating.

Henne's rating is 13th all-time for the Dolphins and the highest since Jay Fiedler posted a club-record 156.o rating on Nov. 27, 2003. Fiedler was 16 of 20 for 239 yards and three touchdowns.

Chad Pennington rankins among the top 10 in career passer rating, but didn't hit 130 last year.

The Dolphins have won both of Henne's starts. That's not to say he's necessarily better than Pennington, who was runner-up to Peyton Manning for league MVP last season, but a team that can win with its backup quarterback is promising.

"I know the coaching staff has confidence in me," Henne said. "The offense can look me in the eye and know that I can take them down the field in tight situations and lead them to victory."

ESPN Stats & Information dissected Henne's night and came up with some notable stats.
  • Henne completed all seven of his play-action passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
  • On first down, Henne was 9 of 10 for 114 yards and one touchdown.
  • When the Dolphins needed 10 yards or more for a first down, Henne was 11 of 13 for 133 yards and one touchdown. When the Dolphins needed less than 10 yards for a first down, Henne was 9 of 13 for 108 yards and one touchdown.
video

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 31, Jets 27

October, 12, 2009
10/12/09
11:54
PM ET
MIAMI -- Now that was fun.

Regardless of who you root for, there was no denying the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets staged a thoroughly entertaining game Monday night -- even though it looked like it would be a defensive struggle based on the statistical rankings.

And both defenses did struggle.

The Dolphins solved the Jets' renowned defense in a thrilling 31-27 victory in Land Shark Stadium.

Ronnie Brown plowed forth for a 2-yard touchdown with six seconds left in the game to force the Dolphins back into relevancy after they appeared dead in the water two weeks ago with Chad Pennington's season-ending injury.

The AFC East standings have gotten verrrrrry interesting.

The Dolphins are only one game out of first place, where the Jets and New England Patriots are tied at 3-2. But the Dolphins are 2-0 in the division. The three other AFC East clubs have at least one loss apiece.

With the help of several slashing Wildcat plays, the Dolphins rolled up 413 total yards on Rex Ryan's defense.

Pennington's replacement, Chad Henne, is 2-0 as and NFL starter. He completed 20 of 26 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Brown ran for 74 yards, while Ricky Williams added 68.

The Jets' offense was up the challenge. Mark Sanchez was decent in the bounce-back game from his New Orleans debacle, going 12 of 24 for 172 yards and a touchdown.

Braylon Edwards, five days after being traded from the Cleveland Browns, was sensational in his Jets debut.

Edwards caught five passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, making a highlight-reel play to set up one Thomas Jones touchdown and drawing a questionable pass interference call against Dolphins cornerback Will Allen that prefaced another Jones plunge.video

Clevelander Ginn answers with long TD

October, 12, 2009
10/12/09
11:19
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


MIAMI -- Where did this No. 19 come from?

Some dude named Ted Ginn just made a 53-yard touchdown catch over Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis to give the Miami Dolphins a 24-20 lead over the New York Jets.

That can't be the same Ted Ginn who has been infamous in South Florida for being a major disappointment since he was drafted ninth overall, can it?

Five snaps after Cleveland Browns import Braylon Edwards set up the Jets for a go-ahead touchdown, Cleveland native Ginn got behind the Jets' secondary. Chad Henne made a pretty, rainbow throw to Ginn down the seam to retake the lead.

It was the type of throw Dolfans didn't get see much from Chad Pennington.

The defenses were supposed to be exchanging body blows, but the offenses keep landing haymakers.

An injury update in the press box: Dolphins outside linebacker Jason Taylor has a shoulder injury, and his return is questionable.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

AFC EAST SCOREBOARD

Sunday, 9/21
Monday, 9/22