The League

Desmond Bieler
Occasional Blogger, Constant Blowhard

Desmond Bieler

An assistant news editor at The Washington Post

N.Y. Jets at Miami, Week One


Sunday, 1 p.m.

[We'll get to the game of the week preview in just a moment, but first, on behalf of my esteemed colleagues Dave and Matt, I'd like to welcome you to the Post Gameday feature. We have been putting together an NFL preview page for the Washington Post print edition for a few years, and we're just as excited as could be to take our act to the The League and the internet. (Wow, so many tubes!) We'll post write-ups on each NFL game each week on Thursdays and Fridays, and a picks post on Fridays, in which we will vie against the spread with what will almost certainly be comically unsuccessful results. And now, on with the show...]

Brett Favre. There, just wanted to get that out of the way early and end any suspense over how quickly this write-up would mention the quarterback. He is, after all, the reason why this is our Game of the Week. Well, that and the fact that the Dolphins' quarterback just happens to be out for some serious revenge, but really, it's all about Brett and how he fares with his first new team in 16 seasons. Hey, no reason why Week 1 should be any different than the entire offseason, right?

But you know what? Favre, even with just a few weeks to learn New York's playbook, actually looks like one of the few things about which the Jets can have a reasonable idea of what to expect. Any doubts that the all-time record-holder in most passing statistics could pretty much roll out of bed and play effectively were laid to rest in the preseason, when Favre posted a 118.5 passer rating despite all but introducing himself on-field to his new teammates. And while the Jets' crew of receivers might not be quite the caliber of Green Bay's, it's still pretty good, with a steady veteran in Laveranues Coles and stars on the rise in wideout Jerricho Cotchery and rookie tight end Dustin Keller. So Gang Green can feel fairly confident about having a pretty good passing game going forward.

What the Jets are probably less sure of is their running game. And their defense. (And whether or not Joe Namath will make an ass of himself again, but let's move on.) They did go on an offseason spending spree to fix their problem areas, but it remains to be seen whether that will work. And to hear a wide variety of NFL analysts tell it, it probably won't -- the consensus is that throwing money at problems doesn't tend to solve them in the NFL. On the other hand, this isn't Dan Snyder's money being thrown around, so maybe it will work. Certainly, the defense is showing signs of improvement after the offseason acquisitions of Kris Jenkins and Calvin Pace. Jenkins was brought in to man the nose tackle spot after Dewayne Robertson, who fit Coach Eric Mangini's 3-4 defense about as well as Mangini fits into a Speedo (ewww), got shipped out. Pace was given a huge free agent deal to defect from the Cardinals because he is seen as a player who is only going to get better in the 3-4. For $42 million over six years ($22 million guaranteed), Pace, who notched a career high in sacks last year with 6.5, better get not just better, he had better get incredible in the 3-4. But if Jenkins can tie up blockers and collapse the pocket the way New York thinks he can, Pace and everyone else on the Jets' D, including ridiculously buff rookie linebacker Vernon Gholston, will benefit.

As for the Jets' running game, it didn't quite generate the same August excitement that the quarterback did. New York's cashapalooza included arguably the offseason's biggest signing in guard Alan Faneca, but it didn't appear that running back Thomas Jones had any more room to roam in the preseason (29 yards on 12 carries) than he did in 2007 (3.6 yards per carry).

Of course, normally one could say, Who cares, they'll squish the Fish anyway. And indeed, New York has owned the rivalry of late, winning four straight games and seven of the past eight. But this is a different Miami squad, partly because it is now operated by Bill Parcells, the Tuna himself (obviously, more Dolphin-friendly than ever). Just remember: The last time Parcells took over a 1-15 team, in 1997 with these very Jets, he took them to 9-7 and nearly in the playoffs the next season. But perhaps the biggest change is at quarterback -- yes, there is another quarterback in this game -- where longtime Gang Green-banger Chad Pennington mans the helm. Pennington is known as among the most cerebral players in the game (with that arm, he'd better be) and he has surely debriefed his new team on all his old team's tendencies. And, of course, Pennington will be looking for some major payback on the Jets for so unceremoniously dumping him as soon as the Favre trade went down.

But the Dolphins won't give New York a major tussle without some defensive help, of which it didn't get much last season. The 2007 defense ranked 23rd overall, and were dead last against the run. Then they waved bye-bye to stalwarts Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. But, you know, they did get younger, and sometimes younger can be better. On the other hand, the Jets are counting on a certain 38-year-old to be their savior this season. And we can't wait to find out how it goes.

By Desmond Bieler  |  September 4, 2008; 10:00 AM ET  | Category:  Week 1 Previews Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: It's Football's Night! | Next: Seattle at Buffalo, Week One


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Your editorial is a bit biased toward the Jets. You never mention any specifics of the Dolphins other than Bill Parcells or Pennington statement. What about the improved Front Line of the Fins and the stud running backs?

Posted by: Fin Fan | September 5, 2008 3:02 PM

Thanks for the comment, Fin Fan.
Our previews aren't meant to be comprehensive. Obviously the main story this week is Favre, with Pennington as a noteworthy sidebar.
We'll have 16 more weeks to get into the Dolphins' very interesting running back situation and other aspects of the team.
I freely admit to being a Jets fan in my private life, but a) I strive to maintain an editorial distance from my personal preferences, and b) if you know anything about Jets fans, you know that we are hardly inclined to look at our team through rose-colored glasses.

Posted by: Desmond Bieler | September 5, 2008 6:00 PM

What about 'em? Miami SUCKS!

Posted by: Paul Hauser | September 6, 2008 2:47 PM

What due you mean operated by Parcells? Is he the coach now or just management?

Posted by: Arny | September 6, 2008 5:44 PM

Nice breakdown, but I didn't catch enough of the excitement of seeing Pennington versus Favre. It seems like you deliberately distanced yourself, like you said. In any event, a nice cool-headed, clear-thinking set-up for Sunday's game.

Posted by: KNAB | September 7, 2008 6:51 AM

When you consider what Joe Namath did for Jets football and the NFL vs. what a lightweight like you does for football and the NFL, your nasty comment about Broadway Joe is way, WAY out of line. Joe's Monday Night Football outburst was an enormous personal embarrassment, and punishment enough for his problems with alcohol. Grow up, Junior -- there's still a chance you could mature into a journalist, albeit a slim one.

Posted by: Jets Fan | September 7, 2008 9:16 AM

I'm a Minnesotan who loves what Favre took away from Wisconsin. People are rebelling in Sconni.

Posted by: Knorblighn | September 7, 2008 9:16 PM

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