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The State Of: The Rivalry, Jets Edition

A lot can be said about the last two seasons for the Miami Dolphins. They went from being at the bottom of the food chain in the NFL, to one of the top up-and-coming teams in the league. They made the playoffs after winning the AFC East one year, to watching their rival, New York Jets, venture deep into the playoffs the next.

The one memory of the past two seasons that sticks out in my mind is the renewal of a rivalry. The rivalry between the Miami Dolphins and the Jets is now meaningful once again, not only to the players and fans, but to the football world as well.

The hatred. The passion. The effort and preparation that goes into the Fins-Jets games from everyone involved is now on a whole new level, ever since both teams fought their way back to prominence.

While the players may not hate each other, I can assure you that more than 50% of the Dolphin and Jet fans hate each other with a passion that cannot be challenged.

Don't worry Ed, we hate you too!

I had the chance to witness the 2008 Week 17 game between these two rivals, which the Fins won to capture the AFC East division, and move on to the playoffs. I can tell you that the hatred that most of the fans treated each other with was absurd. There were numerous fights, a teenager challenging a grown man to a fight, a fan being pushed down rows of seats in the upper deck, and many other verbal battles, and ejections to go along with all of that.

The hatred is there, no matter what anyone says, and the fact of the matter is, I think it is beautiful. I mean, this is something that we all look forward too every year, the games when these two teams play each other. Personally, during the Monday Night game where the Fins edged out the Jets in 2009, I was on the edge of my seat the whole game, and was up most of the night because of the adrenaline. I couldn’t wait to brag about the win to any Jets fan I saw the rest of the week.

That’s what this rivalry is all about to us fans, bragging rights, and the fact that your team has beaten the other, and the win means something more because of that rivalry between the two teams.

This rivalry was once dead though. It was not always like this. There was a time period where games between the Dolphins and Jets did not mean as much, as they do now. Earlier in the decade, when both teams were fighting to stay in the conversation for the playoff race, there was simply not the same intensity throughout the whole fan bases as there is now.

A lot of that can be attributed to the new, young, star-studded rosters that both teams sport.

The Jets have pretty much an all-star team throughout their roster, while the Dolphins feature a very wide nucleus of young talent and wily veterans that just seem to get the job done in the end. This makes the media and the league notice the two teams and their rivalry more. This talent that both teams have, puts them on the map in the first place, and the fairness between the rosters talent wise always makes for a good game. With both teams having good enough rosters to realize that the games against each other are more important than any other regular season game, these games intensity seemingly cannot be matched.

One feature that also is a reason for all of the hype surrounding this rivalry is the duel between the young quarterbacks that are quickly becoming the faces of each of their franchises. Chad Henne for the Dolphins and Mark Sanchez for the Jets both have very promising futures ahead of them, and only increase the expectations of the games between the two, because these two young guns are leading their teams into battle.

It just so happens that one of the most talked about subjects on this rivalry is the Henne vs. Sanchez debate, and who is the better of the two. Even though these two have only been the starters of their teams for just one season, they have already created a debate that is at the front of every fans mind.

The fact is, while Sanchez led his team further into the playoffs, statistically, Henne has the better stats, while playing in one less game than the “Sanchize”.

Over 14 games, Henne amassed 2878 yards, 12 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, a 60.8 completion percentage, and a 75.2 passer rating.

Meanwhile, Sanchez passed for 2444 yards, 12 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, a 53.8 completion percentage, and a 63.0 passer rating.

While both quarterbacks have somewhat similar stats, Henne edges Sanchez out in almost every category possible. Henne completed a higher percentage of his passes, and boasted a better quarterback rating. He also threw for six less interceptions while only playing one game less than Sanchez.

Henne just edges out Sanchez in "The Battle of the Young Guns"

Yes, the Jets were mostly a running team, and relied on that heavily, but remember, the Dolphins were also a run first team as well. So as far as I’m concerned, Henne gets the nod based on those stats.

So, so far, the score is ties 1-1. Sanchez led his team to the playoffs, which gives him a point, and Henne has the better stats, which gives him a point as well. So the deciding factor will be who performed better when they battled head to head.

Both quarterbacks had some of their best games of the season against each other, with Henne dominating the first meeting, and Sanchez the next. But what stuck out to me was that both games were so close, and that Henne won both ball games. Sanchez did not do enough either game to be the deciding factor in the game.

With Henne being the deciding factor in the first matchup, he was the reason the Dolphins won the game. He passed for 241 yards and two touchdowns, while amassing a 76.9 completion percentage and a 130.4 passer rating. That game was Henne’s best all season, and it was safe to say that Henne was the difference maker in this game.

Sanchez meanwhile posted a good game in the second matchup where he took control of the tempo, but he was by no means the difference maker because his team did not get the win. Sanchez passed for 265 yards, and two touchdowns in this game, and a 100.3 passer rating.

So the final point goes to Henne, because he out-dueled Sanchez over the course of the two meetings between the two. Henne stepped up, and proved to be the difference in the rivalry.

When you mention the Dolphins-Jets rivalry, one cannot forget the two coaches, and what they bring to the table.

Rex Ryan, the coach of the Jets, is arrogant at times, brash, and outlandish at times with his predictions and confidence in his team. He flicked Miami fans off at a MMA bout. He predicted his team would make it to the Super Bowl two years running now. His mouth simply never stops.

Tony Sparano meanwhile leaves his talking for Sundays. Sparano does not give out any bulletin board material to the other team, and is confident in his team in a way that people respect him around the league, not laugh at him or ignore him.

Ryan may bring the hype to the games, but Sparano brings the toughness and all of the wins.

The two both mean so much to their teams, and are the undoubted leaders of their teams through thick and thin. Rex brings all of the media to the rivalry and hype, while Sparano brings the wins to the rivalry. Until Rex can find a way to beat the Dolphins, Sparano will always have one up on Rex.

Besides the players and coaches who bring the hype to this rivalry, the two cities that each team resides in cannot be ignored either. New York City and Miami are two of the biggest, and highly visited cities in America. This alone brings hype to games, and the fact that at least one game per year will most likely be on primetime television, shows that this rivalry is one of the best. Both cities draw in flocks of people, so the stadiums for games are rarely empty, and the buzz around these rivalry games is unmatched as well.

Let’s flash back to the 2008 game between the two teams in New York for the division title. The Dolphins have won the game. As the Fins players file back to the tunnel to enter their locker room, they stop to celebrate with the hundred or so fans that are waiting for them to pass by. The pure happiness on their faces was priceless. These guys on both teams take so much pride in beating the other it is ridiculous.  As part of that crew that celebrated with the players, I can say there is nothing better than basking in the glory of just beating our rival.

All of the players on both teams leave everything on the field, and make sure they dig down deep for that little extra push to try to win the game, and get the job done. These rivalry games are like regular season Super Bowls for both the Fins and the Jets, as well as their fans. Both parties take pride in this intense rivalry, and while it has just started to heat up again, all year round, I feel that these guys are our arch rivals, not the Buffalo Bills, or the New England Patriots. I feel that the New York Jets deserve the title of our arch rivals after the history that we have endured together in not only the past couple of years, but throughout both teams history.

Especially since the Bills are irrelevant at this point in the division race, and the Pats are starting to go into a transition period. At this point in time, the Jets are our rivals believe it or not. Based on what was said above, and the history between the two teams and fan bases, don’t you agree?

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3 Responses

  1. Actually, I don’t think the Fins and Jets have ever had this kind of rivalry. The closest it comes to is the rivalry between Fins and Colts in the early 70s and the Fins and Bills in the early 90s. Good article.

    • Nice read.

      D.L. – I disagree. Perhaps by degree it is at an all time high, but even that may just be a product of how we feel now as opposed to hindsight of how we felt in earlier eras. Google biggest NFL rivalries and you will find an SI article that lists Jets-Dolphins as one of the top 10. I think Ken o’brien and Marino, I think clock play, I think (sadly) monday night miracle, I think AJ Duhe.

  2. Very good write up

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