New York Jets: Most Critical Matchups vs. Miami Dolphins

Aidan MackieSenior Analyst ISeptember 20, 2012

New York Jets: Most Critical Matchups vs. Miami Dolphins

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    After being manhandled by the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday, the New York Jets look to get back on track this weekend in South Beach against divisional rival Miami Dolphins

    The Dolphins are coming off an impressive win over the Oakland Raiders, but there will be no excuse for the Jets to lose to a much-inferior Miami team. 

    Here are the key matchups for this Sunday's critical game. 

Mark Sanchez vs. Dolphins Secondary

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    Mark Sanchez struggled mightily against Pittsburgh after a soaring start. 

    The much-maligned quarterback completed less than 50 percent of his passes and was unable to find openings in the Steelers' air-tight secondary. 

    Sanchez should bounce back in a big way against Miami, though. 

    The Dolphins rank 30th in pass defense through two games, despite facing a run-first Texans squad and an inconsistent Raiders offense. 

    Without elite corner Vontae Davis, Miami should continue to struggle against solid passing attacks. 

    This matchup could not be any tastier for Sanchez. 

Santonio Holmes vs. Sean Smith

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    Sean Smith has been relied upon as the Dolphins' top corner since Vontae Davis was traded to the Colts this offseason.

    So far in the No. 1 role, Smith has struggled.

    The Utah product was burned by Andre Johnson in Week 1, and then beaten by numerous Raiders wideouts last weekend.

    Smith has also been hampered by a nagging hip injury.

    While Holmes has struggled with drops and inconsistency in the first couple weeks, he still has the ability to dominate Smith in one-on-one coverage.

Austin Howard vs. Cameron Wake

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    Austin Howard has performed admirably since claiming the starting job at right tackle. He has limited two of the best pass-rushers in the NFL, in Mario Williams and LaMarr Woodley, to just one sack. 

    The 25-year-old will face another tough challenge this weekend. 

    He will be matched up with Cameron Wake, who has recorded an impressive 22.5 sacks over the last two seasons. 

    Wake's combination of strength and speed will be incredibly difficult for Howard to contain. 

    Expect the Pro Bowl outside linebacker to wreak havoc in the New York backfield this weekend.

Jets Defensive Front vs. Reggie Bush

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    After recording his first 1,000-yard season a year ago, Reggie Bush has been absolutely phenomenal through two games in 2012. 

    The former Heisman Trophy winner has already amassed 241 yards and two touchdowns through two games. 

    On the other hand, the Jets run defense has had two completely different outings.

    In Week 1, the unit allowed C.J. Spiller to run all over the field, but in Week 2, it completely shut down the Steelers' rushers.

    Unfortunately for Gang Green, Bush is closer to Spiller than he is to Isaac Redman.

    New York's defense will have to play an outstanding game for Bush not to explode for another huge stat line.

Jets' Pass Rush vs. Dolphins Offensive Line

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    Both the Jets' pass rush and the Dolphins offensive line have been extremely average through two games. 

    Miami has allowed four sacks, while New York has managed to bring down the quarterback just three times. 

    The Dolphins offensive line is a solid unit, boasted by the presence of All-Pro left tackle Jake Long. 

    New York's pass rush has the ability to be stellar, but core players like Quinton Coples and Aaron Maybin have been disappointing early. 

    This battle could go either way, but it is critical for New York to generate some sort of pressure on Ryan Tannehill. 

    If Tannehill begins to feel hurried, he will be forced into some key mistakes. 

Jets Secondary vs. Ryan Tannehill

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    Ryan Tannehill rebounded from a tough, three-pick game against a stingy Texans defense to have a nice outing against the Raiders. 

    However, Tannehill is still a rookie, and he should be no match for New York's elite secondary. 

    The first-round pick out of Texas A&M is facing a divisional rival for the first time in his young career. 

    Tannehill will be feeling the pressure. It is up to the Jets secondary to make him pay for his mistakes. 

    New York might be without Darrelle Revis again, but the unit can still be solid without him.

    The secondary dominated Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1, forcing him to throw three picks.

    Tannehill could face the same fate.

Tony Sparano vs. Kevin Coyle

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    Tony Sparano was revered for his original play-calling against Buffalo, but he seemed to have more of a vanilla approach against the Steelers.

    The offensive game plan did not work, as the team was shut down for three consecutive quarters. 

    Against his former team, it is critical that the offensive coordinator draws up a creative playbook, as many of the defenders on the Dolphins know Sparano's strategies inside and out.

    For New York to be successful on offense, Sparano needs to outsmart new Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.