Behind Enemy Lines, Part 1

To get the lowdown on the Dolphins' next opponent, the New York Jets, we turned to Jets Confidential publisher Dan Leberfeld. Here is his take on 10 pertinent questions about the Jets.

Dolphin Digest: The Jets seemingly had been playing good football until they were spanked by Jacksonville. What happened, and would you expect the Jets to rebound or go into a funk because of that performance?

Leberfeld: The Jets beat two teams with terrible quarterback situations — Tennessee and Buffalo. Chad Pennington was so much better than the quarterbacks on those teams, he spearheaded those wins. I think the Jets will hang around the .500 mark this year. I don't think they will go into a funk. They have a lot of good character players, and the coaching has been good in every game except at Jacksonville. But line issues on both lines will keep them mediocre all season, and likely have then watching the post-season from home.

DD: By all indications, Chad Pennington appears to be back to where he was (at least until last week). Is he the same quarterback Dolphins fans have watched in the past?

Leberfeld: Pennington is definitely back to where he was before. Last week was an aberration. He didn't play well, but didn't get much help from his line, and his receivers weren't getting separation. He's very smart and good at reading defenses, so he should be able to take advantage of the Dolphins' mediocre secondary. The Jets are lucky to have Pennington. He's a very competent quarterback.

DD: It looks like the Jets running game is in shambles. Given that the Dolphins have been very good at stopping the run, is there any reason to think the Jets will have any success whatsoever on the ground?

Leberfeld: The Jets will not be able to run on the Dolphins. They just aren't a good run-blocking team, and the Dolphins' physical front seven will likely give them fits. Rookie left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson is a decent pass protector, but a very average run blocker. He's about 290 pounds, so he doesn't get a lot of push. The Jets' toughest runner, Cedric Houston, who played well last season in Miami, will miss this game with a hyperextended knee. If the Jets are going to win this game, it's going to have to be through the air.

DD: Laveranues Coles has given the Dolphins fits over the years, but he seems to have cooled off after a hot start. Would you expect Pennington to focus on him this week?

Leberfeld: I think Coles will be a big part of the game plan this week. Coles struggled against one of the NFL's best cornerbacks, the Jaguars' Rashean Mathis. But he usually dominates mediocre ornerbacks, and that seems to be what the Dolphins have. I would expect big things from Coles this week. He is always fired up to play the Dolphins because they didn't have him on their draft board.

DD: How have the two rookie offensive linemen performed, and do you think D'Brickashaw Ferguson can handle Jason Taylor one-on-one?

Leberfeld: Like I mentioned before, Ferguson is a decent pass protector, but an average run blocker. Ferguson is learning on the job, and I think a crafty veteran like Taylor, with so many moves in his bag of tricks, will give Ferguson fits. Expect tight end Chris Baker to be spending a lot of time staying in to help Baker. But if his ribs are OK, I would expect a big game for Taylor.


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