Game Two Preview

Dan Feit breaks down the Jets vs. Dolphins match-up, in Week Two of the National Football League Season. Each team enters the game in desperate need of their first win. <p>

QUARTERBACK:

Just like the Dolphins, the Jets have their own fair share of adversity entering Week Two of the NFL season. Vinny Testaverde will be looking to silent his doubters after a sub par performance in Washington.

Paul Hackett will likely take the handcuffs off Testaverde and let him take more chances in this second game.

Miami starting quarterback Jay Fiedler is coming off a respectable game against Houston. In Week One, Fiedler completed 17 of 32 passes for 227 yards, and tied a career high with three touchdowns passes.

In 2002, Fiedler had a passer rating of 85.2.

Testaverde is the more physically talented quarterback, but it is not a sure bet that the Jets will let him capitalize on what he does best, which is using his powerful arm throwing downfield.

The Dolphins have two excellent cornerbacks. Fiedler is accurate, but lacks a big-time arm. He had decent numbers last week, but will be facing a better defense, and more pressure from the defensive ends this week.

An interesting fact about Fiedler: before he reentered the NFL with the Dolphins in 1998, he was an assistant coach for the Hofstra University Football Team; Hofstra is where the Jets train each day

ADVANTAGE: TOSS UP

RUNNING BACK:

Stopping Dolphins RB Ricky Williams is probably one of the hardest assignments in the entire NFL.

"Ricky Williams is one of the better backs in the NFL," said Herman Edwards. "He is a very strong runner. He is the type of guy where you can hold him for a loss, hold him for another loss. They will keep running the same play and all of the sudden he breaks a tackle, the guy in the secondary misses him and it's a touchdown. That's what he is, he is very, very, fast, and strong."

Last season was William's first in Miami, and it did not take him long to adjust to his new surroundings.

In 2002, Williams ran for 1,853 yards and 16 touchdowns, for a 4.8 average. He is also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. He registered 47 receptions for 363 yards and a touchdown in his 2002 All-Pro campaign.

The Dolphins will probably try to attack Dewayne Robertson up the middle. This might be why the Jets have come out publicly and stated that Chester McGlockton would be splitting time with the rookie from Kentucky this week.

Expect Curtis Martin to play better this week (15 attempts for 48 yards, and a 3.2 average against Washington). He should also see the ball a few more times in this contest, which would enable him to get into a better groove.

Martin is really the key to the Jets offense this week. Because Miami's defensive ends are so good at getting to the quarterback, a real effort will be made to run, because if they pass too much Testaverde could get hurt, leaving the Jets with Brooks Bollinger as their quarterback.

However, the Jets are going against the best running back in the business this week.

ADVANTAGE: Dolphins

WIDE RECIEVER:

The Dolphins have four legitimate receiving threats in wideouts Chris Chambers, Derrius Thompson, James McKnight, and TE Randy McMichael.

Last game Chambers had a 57-yard touchdown reception, and is their go-to guy. He finished the Houston game with 130 total yards and two touchdowns.

Chambers 5-11, 210, is an incredibly athletic WR; he even played on the University of Wisconsin basketball team as a freshman in college. In 2002, Chambers caught 52 balls for 734 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games.

The Jets also have a talented group of wide receivers, however they did not produce as well as expected last game, which leads to uncertainty this week surrounding Wayne Chrebet, Santana Moss, and Curtis Conway. The Jets receivers will be going up against a great Miami secondary

ADVANTAGE: Dolphins

OFFENSIVE LINE:

The Dolphins enter this game with a lot to be desired on the offensive line.

Last week against Houston, the Dolphins could only generate 86 total rushing yards. The offensive line of LT Wade Smith, LG Jamie Nails, C Tim Ruddy, RG Todd Perry, and LT Todd Wade were penalty-prone, and were just average in pass protection.

The 6-6, 335-pound Nails, is the best player on this unit. Last season, Nails started all 16 games for the Dolphins. Nails is powerful man, bench- pressing 225 pounds 37 times at the 1997 NFL scouting combine.

Wade Smith is a rookie tackle, he will be lining up against John Abraham this week.

Although they struggled last week against Houston, this is mostly still the same offensive line that opened up holes for Ricky Williams last season, enabling him to rush for 1,853 yards.

The Jets offensive line is still a work in progress. The sudden retirement of Tom Nutten during the preseason forced Brent Smith into playing guard, after playing tackle his whole career. The Jets line was better in pass protection then in run support in Washington.

Both offensive lines have yet to reach their potential as a unit in 2003, but past history leads to a slight advantage in Miami's favor

ADVANTAGE: Dolphins

DEFENSIVE LINE:

The Miami Dolphins defensive line is anchored by seven-year veteran Jason Taylor (6-6, 255). Taylor is a constant threat to get to the quarterback, and with Testaverde not the most agile of signal-caller, Taylor could really have a big day.

Over the last three NFL seasons Taylor has recorded 41.5 sacks, which is the second highest total during this span. He only trails the Giants Michael Strahan. In 2002, Taylor had 18.5 sacks.

Adewale Ogunleye (6-4, 260) is a four-year pro from Indiana. Last season he registered 9.5 sacks, making him and Taylor the top sack tandem in the NFL with a total of 28, the closest competition was Tampa Bay with Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp, registering 23 sacks. Jay Williams is also a threat coming off the bench in a rotation.

The interior of the Dolphins line features Larry Chester (6-2, 325). Chester is a six-year pro that registered 53 tackles a season ago. The other tackle is Tim Bowens 6-4, 325. Bowens is a 10-year veteran who registered 46 total tackles last season. Bowens started in all 16 contests.

Last season Miami ranked tied for 5th in the NFL in rush defense surrendering 97.1 ypg.

The Jets bright spot last week was the play of their defensive line. John Abraham and Shaun Ellis each had a pair of sacks. A pleasant surprise for the Jets was the steady play of Chester McGlockton. He and Robertson will split the game at the three-technique.

Abraham is about to meet his new best friend this Sunday when he makes his first appearance at the Meadowlands on the new "Field Turf". He is also lining up against a rookie tackle in Wade Smith. Expect another tremendous day from the Pro-Bowl defensive end.

When Phil Simms, a CBS football analyst was asked about John Abraham he offered this up as a response "He is just as good as Jason Taylor, Abraham is a tremendous player."

ADVANTAGE: Toss Up

LINEBACKER:

The Dolphins once again on paper sport a terrific line-backing trio of Zach Thomas, Junior Seau, and Morlon Greenwood.

Last week, Thomas led the team with 10 tackles and he is a perennial All-Pro. Thomas (5-11, 230) has made four straight trips to the AFC Pro-Bowl, twice as the starter. Thomas recorded 195 tackles last season.

Seau is one of the all-time greats at the position, but whispers around the NFL are that he has lost a step. Seau (6-3, 250) has been selected to 12 Pro-Bowls. However Seau's sack totals have been in decline ever since 1997 years when he posted seven QB takedowns. Last season while in San Diego, Seau only recorded 1.5 sacks. Expect to see him play effective run defense on the weak side, but he is hardly a threat to bring pressure. He is also still decent in pass protection.

Greenwood (6-0, 238) is in his third season after being drafted in the third round of the 2001 draft. Greenwood is an average NFL player who did not have a good game last week playing against the run.

The Dolphins will have a better line backing unit come the second half of the season, but right now, as evidence by their performance against Houston, they are just beginning to get a feel for each other.

ADVANTAGE: Toss Up

SECONDARY:

For the second straight week, the Jets face a talented defensive backfield .

Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison are as good as it gets at the cornerback spots. Surtain (5-11, 192) is in his sixth season from Southern Mississippi. Last season he was chosen as the AFC starting cornerback in the Pro-Bowl. He recorded six interceptions last season, and is regarded as one of the top cover corners in the NFL.

Madison (5-11, 185), has made four straight trips to the AFC Pro-Bowl. He is quick and excels in man-to-man coverage. Madison has recorded 25 interceptions since becoming a starter in the NFL in 1998.

At the safety spot the Dolphins are also solid.

This group is lead by free safety Brock Marion. Marion (5-11, 200), is a two-time Pro-Bowl selection. He is in his 11th season in the NFL. He ranks fourth in total interceptions in the NFL in the past three years with 15.

Above Marion one spot on this list is his teammate, and fellow member of Miami's vaunted secondary Sammy Knight.

Knight, (6-0, 215), is the teams starting strong safety. Last season Knight recorded 127 tackles and intercepted five passes for the New Orleans Saints. He has 28 career picks in only six seasons in the NFL.

One thing, which might work out well for New York, is that Madison is listed as questionable on this week's injury report with a sprained ankle.

However, this is still one of the best groups in all of football even with Madison not 100 %.

ADVANTAGE: Dolphins

OUTLOOK/PREDICTION

This game is a very hard one to handicap.

The Dolphins have what many feel is the best defensive backfield in the NFL. Miami has a very good team on paper, but for some reason they could not put it together against Houston.

The Texans passes for 266 yards against Miami in Week One.

One big thing that bodes well for the Jets is where the game is being played. It is at home, in front of a pumped up crowd.

New York is playing this game on their new "Field Turf", and during training camp they practiced usually twice a day on this surface, giving them familiarity with the new turf.

Players like Moss and Abraham should benefit most from the change in turf.

Testaverde should be better this week after a full game under his belt as the starting QB.

Chester McGlockton could play a huge role in this game, as far as stopping the run, and if Miami decides to pass a lot in this game, Fiedler will get hit often.

Expect New York to play with more of a sense of urgency then Miami, and win a close game that will come down to the final two minutes.

FINAL SCORE:

New York 17 Miami 16.

You can reach Dan Feit at Dfeit09@hotmail.com


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