Give credit to the Dolphins for what they were able to do yesterday against the Jets. In addition to personally packing the Jets' golf clubs for them, Miami also A) got Santonio Holmes to reveal his pouty and selfish true colors on camera, B) potentially put the final nail in the coffin of Mark Sanchez's tenure as Jets quarterback (not that it took much), and C) reduced Rex Ryan to a stammering, cursing pile of black sweater vest on the sideline. After three seasons of ground n' pound offense and getting fat off of Darrelle Revis' presence in the secondary, the Jets are officially where the Dolphins were at the start of the 2011 season: a team unsure of its identity and without a franchise-caliber quarterback. And though Miami didn't have a particularly strong offensive performance yesterday against New York, the Dolphins' defense was good enough to ensure that the Jets won't play football again until next summer.
A bad day for anyone whose name begins with "San"
Sanchez got things rolling on offense midway through the first quarter with a snazzy, eight-play touchdown drive (made possible by a 41-yard completion that was thrown by wide receiver Jeremy Kerley), but then the Jets' offense basically went into the turtle position for the rest of the half (save for a Nick Folk field goal in the second quarter). Oddly enough, only a few of Sanchez's woes during the game were due to the Dolphins' pass rush, which registered just two sacks on the afternoon. Instead, Sanchez simply looked off when throwing the ball downfield, missing badly on several targets and carrying a genuinely befuddled look on his face while standing on the sideline.
And then Sanchez started throwing interceptions ... lots of them.
Three interceptions, to be exact . And all three picks were nabbed by Dolphins front-seven defenders (two by defensive end Randy Starks, one by linebacker Marvin Mitchell), thanks to some sloppy, rushed passing underneath. With the Jets' ground game unable to consistently move the offense yesterday, Gang Green desperately needed Sanchez to step up, stretch the field a bit and force the Dolphins to pull back and respect the passing game. Instead, he threw behind receivers and seemed to be a quarter-count late while going through his progressions. Maybe this poor performance was all because Sanchez had the weight of the world on his shoulders after leading his team to slaughter against the Giants on Christmas Eve. Who knows? Nevertheless, it's hard to envision the Jets going into the 2012 season with the belief that their quarterback position is taken care of. Quite the contrary. Sanchez needs a lot of work, and I don't know if he's even salvageable at this point.
You call that offense?
It's a good thing the Dolphins' defense brought its lunch pail yesterday, because Miami's offense looked considerably flat through most of the game. Sure, Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore led a highly impressive, 21-play scoring drive that was capped with a Charles Clay touchdown, but Miami's inability to get anything going downfield was troubling, perhaps even maddening. Also, running back Daniel Thomas looked like he was running head-first into a WWE turnbuckle every time he hit the line of scrimmage, and we really can't have that kind of soft running in a guy who was drafted to be a premier power back.
Still, that 21-play drive was a sight to behold, featuring six conversions on third down and a sweet touchdown throw from Moore to Clay in the shallow portion of the end zone. That's the kind of play that makes you sit back and think, "Maybe this guy should be starting for us next season."
Speaking of third-down conversions, the Dolphins were 8-15 on the afternoon, which is a whole lot better than the conversion rate they had during the previous three games. I'll take those numbers any day.
So long, Jason Taylor
Yesterday's game marked the last for Dolphins great Jason Taylor, and it's safe to say Miami may never again see a defensive end as great as No.99. Sadly, he could probably play another five seasons, and he looked as good as ever on that fumble recovery touchdown late in the fourth quarter (the fumble call was changed to down by contact, nullifying the score). One more Air Jordan leap across the goal line would've been an appropriate end to Taylor's 15-year career, no?
-I soooooo did not think Dan Carpenter had the leg for that 58-yard field goal attempt right before halftime. Instead, he practically kicked the ball into orbit, looking like Pete Stoyanovich during his early '90s prime.
-Did anyone else watch the Cowboys/Giants game tonight and worry about the fact that Rob Ryan could be our next coach? I certainly did. I can't even fathom watching those walruses coaching against each other twice a season.
-With the win yesterday, the Dolphins finish the 2011 season with a record of 6-10, which means they'll have the No.9 pick in the 2012 draft.