Week 2 Game Recap: Miami Dolphins 7, New York Jets 17
What you need to know
After one week, the Dolphins looked ready to escape from the ranks of the NFL’s dregs. After two weeks, perhaps we need to re-evaluate how far they’ve come. They just couldn’t put anything together offensively, and were held largely in check by a Jets’ defense that couldn’t stop a thing last week.
The lone bright spot for Miami was TE Randy McMichael. McMichael hauled in eight passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. He was consistently Gus Frerotte’s favorite target, and the Jets couldn’t seem to contain him for much of the game.
RB Ronnie Brown had a rough day. He carried 12 times for 35 yards and was bottled up very well all game long. He also had a difficult time picking up blitzes at times, and apparently made another mistake on a pass intended for him when he failed to read the hot defender blitzing and missed the pass. Of note is that Sammy Morris was solid running the football, though Morris only had four carries to Brown’s 12.
The Dolphins’ defense is one of the league’s best units, bar none. Of course, the Jets’ offense doesn’t exactly look like a juggernaut at this point, but the Dolphins played much better than the score would indicate. They made countless big plays to keep the team in the game, but they spent so much time on the field throughout the game that they simply appeared spent by the time the Jets mustered the game-clinching drive.
Before Pennington owners become giddy at his stat line, you should know that he did not look good for much of the game. His throws were wobbly, he was off-target for just about the entire afternoon, and his arm strength and trademark accuracy were sorely lacking. He directed the first drive of the game for a touchdown pass in the corner to Laveranues Coles, and later engineered a great drive during which he completed seven out of seven passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. Outside of that, he was not very good.
Curtis Martin did a lot of work, but had little to show for his efforts. He carried 31 times but produced just 72 yards, a byproduct of how good the Dolphins’ run defense is. Martin nearly scored on a one yard attempt, but fumbled the ball at the goal line when he tried stretching over the goal line.
Laveranues Coles was much more involved and more productive this week than he was last week. He caught an early touchdown, and remained active throughout the game. Slowly but surely, expect he and Pennington to begin regaining their comfort with one another. There were glimpses of that in this game, and it was a positive step towards his fantasy prospects
What you ought to know
As well as Frerotte played last week, he played that poorly this week. A lot of it had to do with the inability of Chris Chambers to get any separation from defenders, leaving only Randy McMichael as a viable option. Marty Booker and David Boston likewise had trouble getting open. Much of what Miami did was dump-offs underneath, which netted them very few yards. The fact that they didn’t take many shots downfield and Frerotte’s completion percentage was still well below 50% is very telling. The one big shot Frerotte took downfield was nearly intercepted by David Barrett, and Frerotte was also nearly intercepted in the end zone on another occasion. Ty Law had a ball hit him in the hands for yet another near-interception, and finally on Miami’s next-to-last possession, Frerotte was in fact picked off. The lack of any threat of a running game certainly didn’t help him, but anyone thinking of him as waiver-wire help after last week certainly weren’t thrilled to see his performance in Week 2. Frerotte lost one passing yard on a completion to RB Ronnie Brown that was called back due to penalty.
|RB Ronnie Brown, Rush: 12 - 35 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (3 targets)|
It was an inauspicious Week 2 for Brown, who seemed to do just about everything right in Week 1. He failed to break a big run in this game, garnering just 35 yards on 12 carries. He also wasn’t very active in the passing game, and in fact made an apparent bad play when he failed to turn in time for a screen pass headed in his direction that fell incomplete. Brown was completely bottled up by New York, and was a non-factor in the game. He had an opportunity to save a decent day late when he got a carry from the five yard line, but was stuffed after gaining just one yard. Randy McMichael scored on the series. Brown lost one yard receiving on a play that was called back due to holding.
Morris gained nearly as many yards as Brown on one third of the carries. Morris looked noticeably quicker to the hole, and appeared to be better at “moving the pile” when he did get the call. He isn’t much of a threat to Brown’s job, but he looked better for this game at least, albeit in very limited duty.
While Chambers was the most heavily-targeted Miami WR, his production was only minimally better than the others. That’s because Chambers never really had much room to work with, and most of his productivity came early on. He was thrown to five times in the first half, just twice in the third quarter, and in the fourth quarter with Miami trailing the entire time, Chambers saw just one pass in his direction. It was no fault of Frerotte, either, as Chambers just couldn’t get open. He disappeared for long stretches of the game, and was never able to establish a rhythm or any type of timing with Frerotte.
Boston was targeted once down the middle of the field on a deep ball, but the pass was underthrown and knocked away by David Barrett. Had it been on target, Boston appeared to have a step on the Jet defender. Boston didn’t see much action other than that, and his impact was minimal.
Booker wasn’t very heavily involved in the offense, and most of the passes in his direction were uncatchable anyway. With David Boston seeing an equal number of targets, it’s anybody’s guess as to who is the WR2 in Miami for fantasy purposes. In any case, it’s not likely someone you want on your squad anyway.
McMichael was the most involved receiver on the Dolphins, and for good reason. When the play was a pass play, he was invariably open. If he wasn’t open, he got open. And once he got open, he held onto the ball and made things happen after the catch. He was excellent in the game, and capped off his fine afternoon with a fantastic effort to get into the end zone on his four yard score.
Mare missed an easy field goal early in the contest that wasn’t actually his fault. There was a bad snap on the play, and Mare had to reset his feet before attempting the kick. By the time he actually got the kick away, his timing was thrown completely off and Jets’ defenders were bearing down hard on him.
The Jets gained just 98 yards on 34 carries, with 12 of those yards coming courtesy of a Chad Pennington scramble. They held Curtis Martin in check with just 72 yards on 31 rushes, and even prevented a New York score by forcing a fumble of Martin (which is very rare) at the one yard line. Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor, and Junior Seau all made strong contributions to the running game, and each played a key role in stifling the New York attack. Seau in particular looked excellent. He recorded a game-high ten tackles, and two more assisted. Overall, this was by far the Dolphins strong point in the game and nearly was able to keep them in it long enough to win. One black mark on the Dolphins, which may very well have been the turning point, came on the first play of the game. Chad Pennington, who vowed to cut down on his fumbling, fumbled the ball not once, but twice, on the very first play of the game. Miami recovered the ball, but DE Jason Taylor was called for offsides, negating the turnover. The Jets continued that drive downfield and eventually scored on a touchdown pass to Laveranues Coles.
Of course, it helps when the opposing QB struggles, but Miami still made plays nonetheless. One play that stood out in particular was Junior Seau. He dove at Wayne Chrebet at the one yard line on a play that was very nearly a New York touchdown. The ball popped loose, and the Jets were kept out of the end zone. On the ensuing play, Curtis Martin fumbled the ball away to Miami and the Dolphins were able to hold. It was a very big moment in the game. In addition to that play, Miami did a solid job in containing the Jets’ passing attack, save for one drive and one isolated play. The isolated play came early in the first quarter, when Laveranues Coles scored on a nice fade into the back of the end zone. That wasn’t a backbreaker, but allowing Pennington to go seven out of seven for 74 yards and a touchdown late in the fourth quarter certainly was. While they got good pressure on Pennington, and increased the blitz frequency late in the game, they still fell well short of getting to Pennington consistently.
Do not be fooled by Pennington’s solid stat line. He looked pretty bad for much of the game. He saved his day with an outstanding drive late in the game to put the game out of reach, but for most of the afternoon he was throwing lobs all over the field and leaving his receivers in very precarious spots. His day began very shakily, as he fumbled the opening snap. In trying to pick it up and hand off to Curtis Martin, he dropped it again, and Miami recovered the ball. Luckily for Pennington, Dolphins’ DE Jason Taylor was offsides so the turnover was negated. On that first drive, Pennington missed a wide-open Laveranues Coles down the left sideline for what would have been a very big play. He later completed a pass to Justin McCareins that hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity. Had Pennington put a little zip on the pass, it could very well have been a touchdown because McCareins was already behind every Dolphins defender. He did redeem himself on that drive with a nice fade to the corner of the end zone to Laveranues Coles. Pennington does succeed on fade passes because those are designed to be thrown softly, so that gives him no trouble at all. The second quarter was much like the first, as Pennington was nearly picked by S Tebucky Jones, and later lobbed a horrid pass to Laveranues Coles while throwing on the run. Pennington nearly had a touchdown pass to Wayne Chrebet, but the Jets WR was taken down at the one yard line and fumbled the ball. Replays showed that Chrebet may have crossed the plane of the end zone prior to fumbling, but officials upheld the original call. Pennington was redeemed, however, late in the game when he directed a nice drive to put the game away. He went seven out of seven for 74 yards and the eventual touchdown pass to FB Jerald Sowell during the drive, and his passes were both crisp and accurate. He wasn’t asked to throw anything downfield for more than 15 yards, but at least these passes were on target.
Martin had a tough game, doing a lot of dirty work to grind out yardage whenever he could and just keep the clock moving. At one point, Martin endured a stretch in which he carried the ball ten times for zero yards, which illustrates just how difficult it was to make any headway in the run game. One play in particular typified Martin’s day. On a fourth and goal from the Dolphins’ one yard line, Martin got a carry up the middle. He was stopped initially, but tried stretching the ball out over the goal line. It was knocked away, however, and fumbled into the hands of FB Jerald Sowell. Due to the NFL’s rule about advancing a fumble (if it occurs on fourth down, only the fumbling player may advance the ball), the play became simply a fourth down stop and Miami football. Martin owners received a bit of a scare on a run where Martin was tackled by Zach Thomas and then rolled over by the linebacker. It was unclear what happened on the play, but Martin was a bit shaken and somewhat slow to get up. However, he played the rest of the game without incident. Martin lost 12 rushing yards on a run that was called back due to holding. It would have been his longest carry of the day.
Coles was much more active in this game than last week. While it would appear that he did just about the same thing, his focus was much better as he didn’t have any passes go through his hands in this one. He was targeted on a deep pass during the Jets’ opening drive and actually had good separation from his defender, but Pennington’s pass badly misfired and fell incomplete. Coles later almost added a second score, but was tackled at the one yard line. After nearly scoring twice last week, and actually grabbing one yesterday and coming up just short on another, it appears that Coles will be a much bigger red zone target in New York than he was in Washington.
McCareins had a very “workmanlike” 87 yards in the game. He seemed to be around the ball a lot, and was a very solid complementary #2 to Coles. As the season continues, expect McCareins to find a nice comfort level, as he is the Jet most familiar with OC Mike Heimerdinger’s offense.
Chrebet almost scored on a reception over the middle, but fell at the goal line and apparently had the ball knocked away from him for a fumble at the one yard line. Replays showed that Chrebet may have crossed the plane with the ball still in his possession, but officials stuck to the original ruling and called it a fumble.
Baker very quietly slipped back into the shadows this week, as his action in the passing game was strongly negated by the need for him to become a blocker this week. With a strong unit like Miami’s run defense, Curtis Martin needed all the help he could get and so Baker’s role was more of the traditional blocking tight end. The fact that he only saw two passes go in his direction shows that the Jets never really planned on utilizing him very heavily in the game plan.
Nugent rebounded from last week’s debacle in which he slipped during his first career FG attempt, and nailed down a 41 yarder down the middle.
The Dolphins gained 66 yards on the ground, on 18 carries. We’ll say the Jets pretty well had the run game covered up. You might even say the Jets dominated this aspect of the game. It didn’t so much appear that the Jets were blowing up the Dolphins’ offensive line, nor were the Jets in the backfield at every turn. New York merely did an outstanding job of sticking to their assignments, filling the lanes, and not allowing Ronnie Brown and Sammy Morris to get much further than the line of scrimmage. Brown in particular was bottled up, and the Dolphins never posed any type of threat in this phase of the game.
The Jets were excellent, both in terms of pass coverage and getting pressure on Gus Frerotte. Frerotte was hurried all game long, as the Jets compiled double figures in QB hurries by the early fourth quarter. There were also numerous balls that were nearly turned into interceptions by New York, eventually becoming simply batted down. New York finally capitalized on one too many poor throws by Frerotte, as David Barrett came up with the pick that truly sealed the win for New York. The Jets only came away with two sacks, but the amount of pressure they got on Frerotte and the job the DBs did in effectively removing Chris Chambers, Marty Booker, and David Boston from the game plan cannot be underestimated.