(Sports Network) - Welcome to the Week 3 battle of extremes.
At home in Sun Life Stadium are the Miami Dolphins, who were routed at Houston
in Week 1 of this 2012 season before rebounding to hand out a pounding of
their own last Sunday against visiting Oakland, dealing the Raiders a 35-13
Visiting their teal-and-orange rivals this week are the New York Jets, who
looked Super Bowl-ready in a schedule-opening 48-28 thrashing of Buffalo
before looking first-overall-pick-ready in a 27-10 setback at Pittsburgh a
Come Sunday in South Florida, the realities will be exposed.
The Dolphins used marked personnel changes during the offseason to try and
erase the bitter sting of three straight losing campaigns -- dispatching head
coach Tony Sparano in favor of former Green Bay offensive coordinator Joe
Philbin and pushing holdover quarterback Matt Moore down the depth chart to
make room for rookie starter Ryan Tannehill.
It's already produced a new September gain on last season, when Miami went
winless during the month en route to a 0-7 mark to start the year.
"We want to be a team that gets better as the year goes along," Philbin said.
"We've made a couple of strides, but we've got a million miles to go."
Ditto for New York, where Sparano landed as offensive coordinator this
offseason. The Jets' starting offense went touchdown-less in the preseason,
accounted for 34 points in the opener against the Bills and crashed smokily
back to Earth in a smothering 17-point road loss to the Steelers in Week 2.
The Jets had 384 total yards and converted 10 third-down chances against
Buffalo. They plunged by 165 yards and six third-down conversions last week.
"We can't get negative plays, it always hurts when you do," said backup
quarterback Tim Tebow, who took three snaps against the Steelers. "I felt like
we had things rolling for a little (bit). But it's a game of momentum. When
you lose it, it's hard to get it back."
Starting signal-caller Mark Sanchez had 266 passing yards in the opener and
just 138 last week. Tebow, whose role in Sparano's Wildcat offense was the
topic of breathless conjecture all summer, has rushed exactly six times for 33
yards in two games and has not thrown a pass.
Sanchez is 2-4 in his career against Miami, while Tebow defeated the Dolphins
last season while starting for the Denver Broncos. Still, any speculation
about a brewing quarterback controversy has been just that.
"Right now, we think Mark gives us the best chance to be successful in that
particular situation against that particular opponent," Jets head coach Rex
Ryan said. "Those are things that we'll always look at. I believe Tim can
pass. We'll make the decision on when a guy is out there, not out there, or
Priority No. 1 for Gang Green's coach this week is stalling Miami's Reggie
The standout running back has averaged 126.7 rushing yards in his last six
games, the best in the league since Week 13 of 2011. In two career games
against New York, Bush has run 16 times for 108 yards.
"He's doing a tremendous job," Ryan said of Bush. "Obviously we've got to do a
great job of getting a lot of guys to him and get him on the ground -- put
some hot sauce on him, if you will."
The Steelers converted 8-of-15 times on third downs against New York last
Sunday in the absence of Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who's questionable
again this week after suffering a concussion in the late stages of Week 1.
No matter...Ryan remains confident.
"Bet against us and we'll see where it ends up," he said. "I know where it's
going to end up."
Jets lead 48-43-1
2011 Meetings: Jets 24, Dolphins 6 (Oct. 17 at New York)
Dolphins 19, Jets 17 (Jan. 1 at Miami)
Jets HC Rex Ryan vs. Dolphins: 2-4
Dolphins HC Joe Philbin vs. Jets: 0-0
Ryan vs. Philbin Head-to-Head: First Meeting
Notes: Dolphins have won five of the last seven matchups between these
longtime rivals, though Jets have prevailed in four of their six most recent
trips to Sun Life Stadium and handed Miami a 31-23 home loss in 2010. The
visiting team has come out on top in six of the last nine games in the series.
The Dolphins and Jets also squared off in the 1982 AFC Championship, with
Miami recording a 14-0 victory at the Orange Bowl.
Sanchez has shown at least some affinity for South Florida, throwing six
touchdowns against three interceptions for a 90.1 passer rating in three
lifetime games at Sun Life Stadium. He's also been an early-season standout
during his career, tossing 20 touchdown passes against seven interceptions
for a 93.9 rating in September. The Jets are 8-2 when his rating creeps above
100.0 and 4-0 when running back Shonn Greene runs for 100 yards or better.
Also a fan of the Dolphins is wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who's averaged
18.7 yards per catch in seven career games against them with the Jets and
Steelers. He scored his initial touchdown of the season last week against his
former Pittsburgh mates. Speaking of 18.7, fellow wideout Jeremy Kerley has
averaged the same number on six catches through two 2012 games. And although
he was importantly absent due to a hamstring injury last week in Pittsburgh
and questionable to play in Sunday's tilt, tight end Dustin Keller had a
touchdown catch in New York's last game against Miami.
For Miami's defense, end Cameron Wake needs two sacks to become the seventh
Dolphin to reach 30 during his tenure with the team. Alongside him, tackle
Randy Starks had a pair of interceptions the last time Miami faced the Jets
and linebacker Karlos Dansby has two sacks in his last three games against New
York. In the backfield, safety Reshad Jones picked off his first pass of the
season and the third of his career in the Week 2 defeat of the Raiders.
WHEN THE DOLPHINS HAVE THE BALL
While winning his first game as a starter against Oakland, Tannehill - the
eighth overall pick in April's draft - also threw for his first NFL touchdown
and ran for his first score. Behind him, the resurgent Bush has averaged 6.8
yards per carry (16 rushes, 108 yards) in two career games against the Jets.
If he gets to the 100-yard mark again this week, it'll be the fourth straight
home game in which he's reached triple digits in rushing yards, following
games of 100 and 103 with 172 against the Raiders. Bush is averaging 126.7
rushing yards in his last six games overall and needs 74 yards from scrimmage
to get to 6,000 for his career. In five games against AFC East foes with
Miami, he's churned out an average of 91.4 yards on the ground. Rookie running
back Lamar Miller went for an average of 6.5 yards per carry in his NFL debut
against the Raiders and added a touchdown as well. On the outside, wide
receiver Brian Hartline had career bests in both catches (9) and receiving
yards (111) against Oakland, while tight end Anthony Fasano hauled in the 20th
touchdown catch of his career in the win. Four of those 20 have come against
On defense for the Jets, iffy cornerback Revis has four career interceptions
against Miami, second only to his five against Buffalo for the most against
any team. His partner in coverage, Antonio Cromartie, picked off a pass in the
Jets' last game against the Dolphins as well. Joining them in the backfield is
safety Yeremiah Bell, who spent eight seasons with Miami from 2004-11 before
joining the Jets in the offseason. Hard-hitting outside linebacker Garrett
McIntyre had a career-best two sacks against the Steelers last week and inside
starter David Harris added to his team lead of 17 tackles in the loss.
Finally, outside linebacker Calvin Pace has three sacks in his last three
games against the Dolphins.
The pick here comes down to perceptions. Had this game occurred after Week 1,
the Jets might have been favored by 20 points. But after the Week 2 role
reversals, the spread has narrowed to three and many are assuming the Dolphins
at home will have enough. It's Ryan's assumption that reality lies somewhere
closer to one end of the scale than the other, and that his defense will be
able to make Tannehill look closer to the rookie he looked like against the
Texans than the playmaker he was versus the Raiders. With San Francisco,
Houston and New England on the Jets' schedule horizon - and an always-rabid
New York media ready to label his office seat "hot" - Ryan had better be