November 30, 2007 Edition > Section: Sports > Printer-Friendly Version

The One Team That Makes The Jets Look Good
Football

BY SEAN LAHMAN
November 30, 2007
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/67285

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There are two kinds of terrible, and they'll both be on display Sunday. The Dolphins have been ravaged by injuries and plagued by bad luck, losing six of their games by three points or less. The Jets, on the other hand, have been relatively healthy. They simply haven't played well. Both teams will try to salvage some pride when they face off in Miami on Sunday.

JETS (29) at MIAMI DOLPHINS (011) Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

WHEN THE JETS HAVE THE BALL When we look back at what has become a lost season for the Jets, a significant part of the blame is going to land on Thomas Jones. The veteran running back was supposed to solve the Jets' biggest weakness by giving them a consistent running game. He hasn't come close. Heading into December, Jones still hasn't scored a touchdown, and he laid an egg when the Jets needed him last week.

The excitement over Kellen Clemens has also been somewhat tempered. Although the young quarterback has led the team into overtime twice, the offense failed to score a touchdown in his other two starts. His numbers are significantly worse than Chad Pennington's were, and Clemens hasn't been able to spark the offense out of its doldrums.

Miami will be without their defensive leader again this week. Middle linebacker Zach Thomas has been sidelined with headaches since being involved in an auto accident in October. On paper, it appears the Dolphins' defense might be getting better. Over the last four games, they've held their opponents to an average of 11.5 points per game. But, two of those games were played in torrential downpours, and the weather did more to slow their opponents down than the Dolphins did.

WHEN THE DOLPHINS HAVE THE BALL Miami's offense has been devastated by injuries. Quarterback Trent Green suffered a season-ending concussion, and backup Cleo Lemon was a dud. The team has turned the offense over to rookie quarterback John Beck who, so far, hasn't shown any signs of being ready to play at this level.

The lack of a running game hasn't helped him. Ronnie Brown was just beginning to emerge as a powerhouse when he blew out his knee last month. Journeyman Jesse Chatman had taken over the starting duties, but an ankle injury and neck stinger are likely to keep him out of action this weekend. The Dolphins are expected to start Samkon Gado, a free agent they signed on Wednesday.

Veteran receiver Marty Booker is the only established player the Dolphins have at any of the skill positions. Between the double teams he faces and the instability at quarterback, his contributions have been limited. The Dolphins used their first round pick on receiver Ted Ginn Jr., but he has only caught 15 passes in 11 games.

If you're looking for something positive to say about the Jets' defense, they've recorded 10 sacks over the past two games. On the other hand, their opponents continue to run the ball at will. The Jets' defense hasn't held an opponent to fewer than 100 rushing yards since September, and in five of the last seven games, they've surrendered more than 150 yards on the ground.

KEY TO THE GAME If Jones is ever going to contribute, it has to be now. The Dolphins' run defense is porous, and they don't appear to be capable of scoring enough points on offense.

Lahman's Pick: Jets 143

November 30, 2007 Edition > Section: Sports > Printer-Friendly Version