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Z.Thomas’ Impact on This Rivalry

Posted by Randy Lange on September 22, 2007 – 8:19 am

Jets fans should fully appreciate what they won’t see Sunday in the Meadowlands. It’s rarer than an Olympiad, about as rare as a solar eclipse, not quite as rare as hearing the 17-year locusts.

Zach Thomas won’t be in Miami’s lineup.

This news was announced by the Dolphins on Friday, but it bears repeating how unusual an occurrence this is. Thomas has missed only 13 games in his 12-year career. And he missed only one game against the Green & White. That was the second meeting of 2000, the one in Miami after the Monday Night Miracle, when Zach’s ankle was too painful for him to go on.

But Thomas’ reputation is such that the Jets, hearing that No. 54 might not suit up, said in effect they’d believe it when they see it. And at least one fan sending a comment to the radar didn’t believe Thomas would miss the game even after Dolphins coach Cam Cameron declared his mainstay MLB out.

Believe it. Thomas, apparently on the first play of the Dolphins’ game last week against the Cowboys, took a shot to his head while tackling Julius Jones. He played the rest of the game, but on Monday he was said to be suffering from migraine headaches, which kept him out of all the practices for the Jets this week. On Friday, the Dolphins reclassified the injury as a concussion.

The ‘Fins will adjust, as all athletic teams everywhere do when a key player goes down. But Channing Crowder, who will step into the middle vs. the Jets, told Dolphins media this week, "I can’t be a Zach Thomas, but I’m going to try and step in there and not miss a step with the defense."

And Jets guard Adrien Clarke, who’s never played against ZT but watched plenty of video of No. 54 this week, strung a number of football phrases together in describing what he’d seen on video and heard from his teammates this week.

"If there’s a tackle to be made, nine times out of 10 Zach’s making it," Clarke said. "He gets to the ball all over the field. He’s a hole-plugger, hard-nosed, tough-nosed. He’s a great player."

But Zach will sit this one out. And here are a few reasons the Jets offense, even though they’d love to face him, will be happy to play the Dolphins without him.

In the 21 games he’s played against the Jets, Thomas has unofficially racked up 195 tackles — 9.3 a game — and has made 22 tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage. Both those totals are the most by a Jets opponent in the last 12 seasons. Here are the leaders against the Jets in those categories since 1996:

  Total Tackles   Tkls for Loss/No Gain  
  Zach Thomas, MIA 195   Zach Thomas, MIA 22.0  
  Tedy Bruschi, NE 152   Jason Taylor, MIA 19.0  
  Lawyer Milloy, NE-BUF 112   Willie McGinest, NE 15.0  

Get well soon, Zach. We’ll see you in Miami on Dec. 2, no doubt.

J-Vil’s Special Skills

Jonathan Vilma has also been known to be in the middle of things for the Jets, and that was never truer than the Baltimore game, when he led the attack on slowing down Willis McGahee with 10 tackles — his first double-digit tackle game since last year’s Game 7 vs. Detroit — and also lined up on the interior of the kickoff-coverage unit, something he hadn’t done since his rookie season of 2004.

“You figure something like that would happen, giving up a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown,” he said, referring to Patriot Ellis Hobbs’ opening-day house-cleaning. “It’s whatever needs to be done to win. We still didn’t win and we still gave up a long kickoff return [at Baltimore], unfortunately. We have to improve on that this week.”

One might assume ST duty is not one of Vilma’s favorite things, but you won’t hear it out of him.

“I just want to go out there and help and contribute,” he said. “I’m going to do what needs to be done of me and if the ball comes my way, make the play and do what I have to do.”

No Sounds of Silence

A cricket, or perhaps a family of the little critters, has found a home somewhere in the Jets media room where head coach Eric Mangini conducts his daily news conferences. Toward the end of Friday’s session, Mangini paused, looked to his left toward the room’s radiator and chuckled.

"This cricket is a fixture," Mangini said. "You can really hear him when I tell most of my jokes."

Webheads so inclined can actually hear the cricket chirping away toward the end of the coach’s Friday news conference, with the help of the newyorkjets.com media player.

Perhaps the insect is providing one more reminder for fans attending Sunday’s game: "LOUD CROWD, NO CRICKETS."

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Posted in Randy Lange | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Z.Thomas’ Impact on This Rivalry”

  1. By Taiwan on Sep 22, 2007 | Reply

    This question is for you Randy. From last year they named Andre Dyson as our lockdown corner,while all the others struggled on the otherside and now we might have another lockdown corner in Revis. So why are the jets staff have them both on the same side backing up one another, that dont make since. Why not make them both starters when Dyson get well? Obviously Barrett and company not doing it.

  2. By Taiwan on Sep 22, 2007 | Reply

    When you actually pay attention to the jets cornerbacks neither corner turns around and look for the ball except Dyson and Revis. Barrett constantly gets outplayed, Miller is very inconsistent on coverage, and the rest fo the corners you only here about them when there getting posterized by another team. We need Dyson and Revis out there together so teams will fear throwing the ball on either side

  3. By Dan on Sep 22, 2007 | Reply

    Vilma and the Jets D looks alot better in the 4-3. Just another fan telling Mangini to switch the plan.

  4. By Ira on Sep 22, 2007 | Reply

    Randy, Very interesting stats on Thomas. Thomas and Mawae had great battles. Crowder is a very good player but is no Z.Thomas. Vilma did play a good game last week and will continue this week along with the rest of the D.

  5. By Ira on Sep 22, 2007 | Reply

    Dyson has been a little dinged up since the summer. Barrett also out played Dyson. Barrett is not playing as bad as some fans are saying. I don’t care if your the best CB in the league if a QB has plenty of time a WR will get open. That will change this week. Jets get 2 INT’s and a win.

  6. By JetS on Sep 24, 2007 | Reply

    The Jets D has been horrible htis season except for a few quaters, they really need to change some things, and Vilma is playing excellent but we need to put some pressure on the qbs. Tom Brady and even Kyle Boller had all day to throw the ball to open targets, although we did a little better sunday, we need thomas and ellis to be in the backfield everyplay for our defense to get more takeaways.

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