Nothing affects the frontal lobe of Miami faithful quite like those two words, as its a week in which the Dolphins are presented with a generous heap of opportunities: an opportunity the prove themselves against the AFC East's resident bully; an opportunity to remind the rest of the NFL that Rex Ryan will never be as good as his daddy; an opportunity to take the "Mark Sanchez is coming along at a nice pace" myth and cram it squarely down the throats of Jets fans.
Most important, it presents an opportunity to nudge Santonio Holmes back into the internal-team-killing behavior we know he's good for.
Jets week. It's when the circus comes to town and puts first-class dysfunction on display for all of Miami to see. And as with all circuses, all it will leave in its exit are clown tears and animal droppings.Part of the magic when Gang Green invades South Florida is the playoff-type atmosphere that follows them. The Jets and Dolphins could both be 0-2 right now, and Jets Week wouldn't feel any less valid or momentous. It's the Bears-Packers rivalry of the east, and the results are typically as ugly as the trash talk that precedes the game.
This year, the stakes are even higher, as the Jets have a vengeance-minded Tony Sparano heading up their offense, and, of course, Tim Tebow, who burned the Dolphins badly the last time he visited South Florida. On the other side of the tape is first-year head coach Joe Philbin, whose soft-spoken nature and relentlessly studious approach to the game are both polar opposites of the Jets' way of doing business. For me, this week could be a defining moment for Philbin, as he has an opportunity to drop the big, bad Jets dead in their tracks via the two areas Sparano emphasized--but never actualized--during his time in Miami: defense and the running game.
Miami's backfield hydra of Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller is going to draw blood from the opposition many Sundays this season, and even if all three aren't active tomorrow against the Jets, the Jets will have their hands full with the two backs who play. Reggie is, of course, a constant, as he has pummeled the line of scrimmage this season the way Mike Tyson pummeled his way through the entire boxing world during the mid-to-late '80s. Thomas, on the other hand, is a big-bodied bruiser with much to prove, and Miller is the new kid on the block, boasting phenomenal vision and world-class wheels. Add in fullback/bulldozer Jorvorskie Lane, and you're talking about a Dolphins backfield that could be viable for some time.
It's up to Philbin to prove that the Dolphins are no longer interested in dipping to the Jets' level of bullying and self-loathing, and it's up to Ryan Tannehill to show Ryan and Sparano what a real first-round quarterback looks like. Tannehill's receiver cupboard is borderline bare, but with Bess, Hartline and Fasano in the mix, he at least has a nucleus to build upon. Darrelle Revis will be on the field tomorrow, and will only further complicate the lame pop of Miami's receiver corps. Still, Tannehill needs to battle and look to make plays with his arm and legs.
Homer pride aside, this is a contest between two teams going in very different directions. The Dolphins want to reinforce the ferocity of their front seven on defense, and redefine their identity on offense. The Jets, rather, refuse to accept that Revis and their defensive line aren't enough to make up for New York's sickly-looking linebackers and safety group. If anything, the Jets are clinging for dear life onto their few world-class assets--Revis, Stephen Hill, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold--while the rest of their roster continues to sink like the Titanic after it split in two. These guys are the Pamela Anderson of the NFL, and it's time to give these guys a taste of the Dolphins' defense, viable backfield and new-found passing game. It won't be pretty, but Miami ultimately has the group to get it done.
Jets week. Let the infighting and dysfunction begin.