The Miami Dolphins are getting ready for their second contest of the season against the New York Jets. In order to get ready for the game as fans, we get our first repeat visitor of the year for our five questions series, Scott Salmon from Gang Green Nation, the SB Nation Jets blog.
Salmon also agreed to hang out with us tonight in our weekly Google+ Hangout, so make sure you come back to the site at 8:30pm Eastern to join our show.
On to my questions, with Salmon's answers. You can check out Gang Green Nation later to see my answers to Salmon's questions.
Kevin Nogle (KN): Obviously, there is frustration with the Jets, especially on offense. What's been the biggest problem when the offense is on the field? Mark Sanchez? Tim Tebow? The line? Tony Sparano? I'm going with Sparano, knowing what Miami's offense was like with him as the head coach...
Scott Salmon (SS): Eh, right now there isn't a whole ton of frustration after the past few weeks. We've improved markedly from the beginning of the season. If I had to pick something though, it would just be general execution. There are points at which the execution of the plays just breaks down, leading to a sack, an ill-timed throw, or an unnecessary drop. There have been points where the play-calling from Sparano have been questionable, but more often than not I feel it's more the execution than the play-calling.
KN: The Week 3 game was ugly for both teams. What has been the biggest improvement for the Jets since their overtime win in Miami?
SS: Since the overtime win, the run game and the run defense have both stepped up dramatically. The offensive line is getting much better push than they were before, and Shonn Greene has looked like a whole new man. Joe McKnight is starting to get involved as well, which is always a good thing for the Jets. On defense, we aren't seeing the huge breakaway runs anymore that plagued us early in the season. A lot of that has to do with the defenders staying disciplined in their lanes and not letting the backs get in space on the outside. The tackling has improved significantly since the last time we played.
KN: The Jets defense seems to be standing up and performing well over the past few weeks, despite the loss of Darrelle Revis (Karma? Sorry. Too soon?). Is it a matter of players taking it on themselves to make up for the loss, or has Rex Ryan changed how the defense operates to cover for the loss?
SS: Rex Ryan has definitely changed how the defense operates. We're seeing more zone defense as well as disguised blitzes, something that we haven't seen too much of in a while. Generally, he's been much more creative in how he's aligning the guys, disguising coverages and blitzes. However, the players have all just stepped up dramatically. Antonio Cromartie is playing at near Revis levels, like he's a true All-Pro. And he's playing consistently like that as well. Kyle Wilson had a rough outing Week 4 against the San Francisco 49ers, but he too has stepped up and is playing like a top 20 cornerback (statistically) in the league.
KN: I have to ask, because, well, I think I am contractually obligated - and I don't even know in what contract. What are your thoughts on the use/non-use of Tebow? It seems like not using Tebow is becoming a bigger distraction around the Jets than if they were using him at this point. Any chance they are looking to trade him (....to Jacksonville....)?
SS: I've actually been fine with how they're using Tebow... basically in every position except the normal quarterback role. I would like to see him get more snaps in certain situations - short yardage, goal-line stuff. The role he's been doing is fine, just not the number or timing of the snaps. I think a lot of that will be sorted out as they get used to him, towards the end of the season. Nobody has ever done anything quite like this before.
I cannot imagine a situation in which they trade him before the end of the season (or trade deadline). Woody Johnson loves him too much, and Mike Tannenbaum won't want to admit a mistake of this magnitude during the season. I wouldn't be surprised if he "quietly" gets traded in the offseason.
KN: Dennis Byrd is getting his number retired at halftime this week. While normally an opponent retiring a number is not something about which we would really care, Byrd is a little different. Can you tell our readers a little about Byrd and what he has head to deal with, as well as what has happened with Scott Merereau, who was the other half of the collision?
SS: Absolutely. Dennis Byrd was a defensive end and defensive tackle for the Jets back in the early 90s. In 1992, against the Kansas City Chiefs, he was about to sack QB Dave Krieg when Krieg stepped up to avoid the hit. Byrd collided with Scott Mersereau, and part of his vertebrae essentially exploded. He was paralyzed, and left unable to walk. Eventually, he regained his ability to walk and is probably the most inspiring member in New York Jets history. As for Mersereau, he was initially declared fine, but later began having trouble with his lower back. He believes the collision damaged some of his vertebrae as well, and he also had to undergo massive back surgery to repair his body.
In the 2010 playoffs, before the Jets beat the Patriots, Byrd sent his tattered jersey that had been cut off his body when he was paralyzed to Rex Ryan, who invited Byrd to come speak to the team before the game. The players then carried his jersey out to the field for the coin toss, and dedicated the game to Byrd. Now, finally, Byrd gets to have his number rightfully retired.
A big thanks to Scott for taking time to do this. And, we both hope to hear from you all tonight during our Google+ Hangout show.