As if this division rivalry needed any more juice, arguably the greatest Dolphin of the previous decade returns in a shade of green that South Floridians can’t stand. Don’t expect cheers for Jason Taylor, even though the Dolphins' front office essentially made him take his pass-rushing services elsewhere last offseason.
Spectators at Sun Life Stadium won’t shower much love on brash Jets coach Rex Ryan either, especially after he extended the middle finger to taunting Dolphins fans at an MMA event in January. The crowd will be loud, and the game will be physical, as both teams like to establish the run and take pressure off their young quarterbacks. The winner takes a huge step forward in the AFC East, with the Jets already owning a win against New England, and the Patriots visiting the Dolphins next.
Keys for the Dolphins
• Exploiting the deserted island. Darrelle Revis has been declared out, which means the Jets will turn to Antonio Cromartie or rookie Kyle Wilson to cover Brandon Marshall. Those could be mismatches. The Dolphins involved Marshall early against Minnesota, with a 46-yard completion, and will likely attempt to do so again.
• Setting the edge. Koa Misi, the rookie who essentially replaced Taylor at linebacker, has progressed greatly from training camp, in terms of helping to keep runners contained. The Dolphins want to bottle up Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson, and force Mark Sanchez to beat them.
Keys for the Jets
• Deception on defense. New York is without three of its most valuable defensive players (Revis, Kris Jenkins, Calvin Pace). But the Jets can still create chaos, since few teams do as much to deceive before the snap, and the Dolphins’ interior line consists of three players who were not starting for them in 2009, including a rookie.
• Westhoff’s revenge. Mike Westhoff was one of the league’s elite special teams coaches while with the Dolphins, and has remained so since joining the Jets. But his units struggled against the Dolphins in 2009. Expect some tricks, and better success.
The Dolphins should win. They’re hot, at home, and healthier. But that’s not how this rivalry usually works. Jets 20–17.