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Jets preparing for Dolphins defensive front

The Jets are readying for the Dolphins defensive line

FLORHAM PARK: Ryan Fitzpatrick is aware, well aware, of that little statistic pertaining to the Miami Dolphins defensive line. He's actually a little shocked, as is the rest of the league, that the team doesn't yet have a sack. 

After all, this is the defensive unit that boasts a front four that includes Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh; two players with eight Pro Bowls between them. Bringing down the quarterback has kind of been Wake and Suh's specialty. 

Is Wake suddenly on the downside of his career? Has Suh cashed it in after his mega-money free-agent deal this offseason?

Uh, not exactly. 

"I think it's a little misleading," Fitzpatrick said. "I mean, historically, look at the guys that they have up front and the way they performed. They create some matchup problems for you.

"I'm not sitting here looking at that and saying, 'Boy, I'm going to be able to sit back there all day and throw.' They've got a lot of talented guys up front that can rush the passer." 

While Fitzpatrick may not be saying it, the Jets offensive line has given the 11-year veteran ample amount of time to throw in each of the Jets first three games. In 12 quarters, Fitzpatrick has dropped back to pass 121 times, per ProFootballFocus.com, but defenders have brought him down to the ground just twice. Of quarterbacks that have taken at least 75 percent of their team's snaps, that's the second-fewest sacks allowed in the NFL. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer has been brought down just once. 

But the Dolphins defensive unit, sacks or no sacks, is unlike anything the Jets have faced this year. The group was already good when the line featured just Wake, but now they've added in Suh? Well, the duo could be deadly. 

In his five-year NFL career, Suh has established himself into one of the league's premier defenders. Aside from being a four-time Pro Bowler, he's also been voted first-team All Pro the same amount of times. Last year as a member of the Detroit Lions, Suh recorded 53 tackles and 8.5 sacks. In his career, he's brought down the quarterback 36 times. 

As a result? The Dolphins dished out $114 million to bring him to Miami.  

The thing that makes Suh so special is the fact he can do, quite literally, everything. He has the perfect build (6-4, 320 pounds) for a defensive tackle, but with his strength he adds tremendous speed. Last year, New York Giants starting center Weston Richburg said the speed at which Suh gets off the line is really what separates him from other defensive tackles in the NFL. 

Earlier this week, Bowles was asked how the Jets can slow Suh. His answer? 

"Him not playing," he said, laughing. "(Suh) can be very disruptive." 

The player likely tasked with containing Suh for the Jets will be third-year guard Brian Winters. With starter Willie Colon sidelined with a sprained knee, Winters, who struggled mightily a season ago, will fill in. In 2014, Winters began the season as the Jets starting guard before suffering a season-ending ACL injury. In his final three games as a starter, Winters allowed 12 quarterback hurries. 

Winters had shown signs of improvement throughout training camp, and it's one of the reasons the team elected to part with offensive guard Oday Aboushi. But Suh is a different animal. And Winters has his work cut out for him. 

"Just eat your Wheaties," Bowles said on how Winters can prepare. "Brian's a tough guy. He'll fight."

But the Jets preparation to slow Suh and the Dolphins is a bit different this week. While the Jets are the scheduled "road team," in a way, both teams aren't playing at home. New York and Miami will meet in London at Wembley Stadium for the first game in the NFL's International League Series. As a result, the Jets have been taking the necessary steps to prepare the team for the long flight, and impending jet lag. 

On Monday, New York brought in a sleep specialist to help give the team advice. The specialist talked to the team about the need to get to bed and wake up early this week. By doing so, it will help ease the burden of traveling over five timezones. 

The advice appeared to have worked, but a little sooner than expected. Speaking on Wednesday, Jets rookie first-round pick Leonard Williams admitted he fell asleep during the sleep meeting. 

“I was kind of nodding off, to be honest,” Williams said with a smile. “The guy was telling us it was ok to go to sleep. He really shouldn’t have done that.”

***

This article will also appear in Saturday's edition of The Journal Inquirer

Connor Hughes is the New York Jets beat writer for The Journal Inquirer and Scout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@Connor_J_Hughes), or via email (connor_j_hughes@yahoo.com)


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