Another fall day waking up to check the ESPN ticker provided me with information that Michael Crabtree was to finally be a 49er this year. Hoping my fantasy quarterback Eli Manning was healthy enough to demolish the Raiders Sunday, I stuck around for more news. Then it flashed across the bottom of the screen. Braylon Edwards traded to the Jets. I couldn’t believe It so I waited for the NFL news to return to the screen minutes later just to double check. It was true! Edwards, a 26 year old 6 foot three number one wideout was coming to join Gang Green. Slot WR Chansi Stuckey and LB Jason Trusnick will go to Cleveland In exchange for what may be the missing piece for the Jets offense.
The addition of Edwards will free up solid WR Jerricho Cotchery, TE Dustin Keller, open up a run game bottled by eight in the box defenses. Wanna stuff Leon Washington and Thomas Jones? Then take your chances one on one with the 2007 All Pro who according to Rex Ryan is “open even when he’s covered.” Edwards leads the league in targeted drops over the past few years, but who could blame a good player for trying to run before the catch and make the big play for a Browns team that loses constantly. With the Jets, Edwards will not have to do It all. Especially not with the Jet defense led by shut down corner Darrele Revis, run stopper Kris Jenkins , and a killer LB corps comprised of Bart Scott, David Harris and now perhaps their most dynamic one, Calvin Pace. Pace returns from a 4 game suspension this week and is chomping at the bit.
Edwards joins a 3-1 Jet team tied for 1st with New England, as they head into Monday night at Landshark stadium against the 1-3 Dolphins. A team with one of the best running combos in football in RB’s Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. The Wildcat formation, the NFL’s latest trend, started with the Fish in 2008 and continues to the present day. The Fish can control the clock and time of possession on a team with their run ability, as they did in their tough loss to the Colts on MNF weeks ago. QB Chad Pennington’s season ending injury the following week in San Diego has left coach Tony Sparano with no choice but usher in the Chad Henne era. Henne modestly helped lead the Fish to a 28-10 win over Buffalo in week 4 for the clubs first win in 2009 in his first start.
The Jets and QB Mark Sanchez look to rebound off of the 24-10 loss in New Orleans, their 1st of the season. The “San-chize” was picked off 3 times (twice by vet Darren Sharper, one of those a back breaking 99 yard TD) and fumbled once, in his own end zone. The turnovers led directly to 14 Saints points, the difference In the game.
The defense played well, shutting down potent QB Drew Brees who threw for 0 tds. RB Pierre Thomas managed to rush for 86 yds and a TD. Ryan claims that when he wants to shut the run game down his defense can take that away from an offense. Last week the focus was on Brees. This week Ryan will need to stop the Miami run In order to win. Let Chad Henne In his second NFL start beat you. That’s the formula.
For Sanchez, he’ll look to recapture the consistent decision making from his 1st three starts. Sanchez will undoubtedly be helped In the passing game thanks to Edwards. Edwards will draw attention. Coverages will have to roll his way Ryan said in the press conference yesterday.
Now when these two teams get together classics are born. Monday should be no different. Who can forget the 1981 Jet-Miami AFC championship mud bowl night mare. Richard Todd was intercepted for TD’s twice by Dolphin AJ Duhe. Jet coach Walt Michaels was livid that Miami didn’t cover the field during the pre game rain storm that left cut and slash Jet star RB Freeman Mcneil ineffective. Or the 51-45 shootout OT win by the Ken O Brien Jets in the late 80’s thanks to the 50 yard bomb from O Brien to WR Wesley Walker? Remember the Dan Marino fake spike game during the Pete Carrol era in the mid Nineties, when 1st place was on the line in November? I can still see Aaron Glenn dazed as the Fish celebrated the shocker. Then there was the “Monday night miracle” when Jumbo Elliot’sTD catch capped a startling 3 score 4th quarter comeback for the Vinny Testaverde Jets in 2000. Or last years season ending Dolphin win at the Meadowlands that clinched the AFC East for Miami. Former JET QB Chad Pennington stuck It to the Jet organization and his summer replacement Brett Favre walking off with the divison title on the road.
Monday night, the new killer Jet D must stay focused on the Fish backfield. Sanchez has to look off safeties and look for his new former All pro teammate outside the numbers. A Jet run game of Leon Washington, Thomas Jones and rookie Shonn Greene who rushed well in limited time last Sunday, must finally get going early. With the addition of Edwards , their jobs will be easier, drawing less attention, unless teams want to risk single coverage on the outside against the newest Jet. You have to like the way things are shaping up in Florham Park. As the game with a bitter rival on football’s biggest stage draws nearer, the Jets come into Miami with Braylon Edwards, perhaps the missing piece to the puzzle. A piece that could turn the Jets from a nice team with a tough defense to a serious contender. Rookie quarterback or not.