Jets defensive back James Ihedigbo has a message for any Miami Dolphins expecting a repeat of last season's game at Giants Stadium, when Miami returned two kickoffs for touchdowns against the Jets.
"We're going to make a statement, special teams-wise and as a team, coming into this game. If they're thinking that, yeah, they had those two kick returns last year and that is going to go down again this year, they're mistaken," Ihedigbo said. "Because we're playing some of our best football in special teams since I've been here. We're going to make a note to make a statement this game."
After allowing two backbreaking kickoff returns to former Dolphins receiver Ted Ginn Jr. in last year’s 30-25 home loss to the Dolphins on Nov. 1, the Jets special team unit is out to make sure it can hold up its end of the bargain this time against the Dolphins. The two touchdown returns were the only returns for scores the Jets allowed all of last season.
"That was last year," Ihedigbo said. "We’re looking at this year and what we're trying to do this year. That all happened last year and there's no control over it now, but we can control Sunday night."
In that dubious loss, the Jet statistically dominated the Dolphins, giving up just 104 yards of total offense. Yet, the Jets inability to defend kickoffs turned out to be the deciding factor. Ginn Jr. first returned a kickoff 100 yards to give the Dolphins a 10-6 early in the third quarter, and later extended the Dolphins lead to 24-13 with a 101-yard return.
"We looked at the film this whole week about how last season, when Ted Ginn made those two runs, we had him. We just didn’t the tackle, so it’s all about us," defensive back Drew Coleman said. "We never really go into a game worried about their returners. As long as we do what we do and get down there and stay in our lanes and make plays or fight over the blocks like we’re supposed to. Our technique, our assignment, we just got to go finish. That’s the main thing we’re worried about instead of the returners."
Helping the Jets in that cause will be Ginn Jr.'s departure from Miami this offseason, as he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. Head coach Rex Ryan is certainly pleased to know he won't have to worry about Ginn Jr. burning his team once again.
"Ted Ginn destroyed us," Ryan said. "I know people in Miami said he was disappointing and all that. You look at the game last year against us, he destroyed us. He caught a long touchdown pass against us, he returned two kicks for touchdowns, so hopefully that will hurt them this week."