Game Preview: Dolphins (6-5) @ Jets (2-9)

Coming off an embarrassing 38-3 beat down by division rival Buffalo Bills, the Jets will take on another division foe in the Miami Dolphins in a prime time Monday Night showdown.

It is safe to say that the Jets have officially hit their low point of the season. After a surprise and dominant win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 10, the Jets, for the second time this season, got blitzed by the Bills.

The Jets were thoroughly out played in all three phases of the game and what makes matters worse is the Jets had more than enough practice time to prepare while the Bills players were literally snowed in to their homes and unable to practice.

Apparently history repeats itself as not only were the Jets blown out by Buffalo, but a quarterback change was made after the embarrassing loss with Geno Smith being called upon to start on Monday.

While the Jets may be crumbling, the Miami Dolphins seem to have hit their groove after early season struggles. They are winners of four of their last ten games and are coming off a close road loss to the defending AFC Champion Denver Broncos.

Lead by quarterback Ryan Tannehill and a tenacious defense, which ranks fourth in the NFL in sacks with 31, they will pose a strong challenge to the Jets.

After an embarrassing loss, Ryan’s Jets have come out strong in their next game. After getting blown out 31-0 against the Chargers, the Jets almost upset the Broncos and after their embarrassing 43-23, six turnover affair against the Bills at home, they hung in on the road against a tough opponent in the Kansas City Chiefs.

Lets see if that trend continues.

WHEN: Monday, December 1, @ 8:30 PM EST. (T.V. –ESPN, Radio-ESPN)

WHERE: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

INJURY REPORT (As of Thursday)

Jets- OL Oday Aboushi (Shoulder) Full, TE Jace Amaro (Concussion) DNP, LB Antwan Barnes (Knee) Full, OL Willie Colon (Knee) Full, RB Conner John (Groin) Limited, WR Eric Decker (Toe) Full, DL Leger Douzable (Ankle) Limited, LB David Harris (Shoulder) Full, RB Chris Ivory (Shoulder) Full, Jaiquawn Jarrett (Calf) Full, RB Chris Johnson (Knee) Full, OL Nick Mangold (Shoulder) Full, RB Bilal Powell (Illness) Full, Sheldon Richardson (Low Back) DNP, QB Michael Vick (Rt. Wrist) Full and DL Muhammad Wilkerson (Toe) DNP.

Dolphins- LB Jonathan Freeny (Hamstring) Out, CB Jamar Taylor (Shoulder) Out, TE Charles Clay (Hamstring/Knee) Limited, G Daryn Colledge (Back) Limited, CB Cortland Finnegan (Ankle) Limited, T Ja’Wuan James (Neck) Limited, WR Mike Wallace (Chest) Limited, G Nate Garner (Illness) Full, WR Jarvis Landry (Shoulder) Full, RB Lamar Miller (Knee) Full, LB Koa Misi (Ankle/Knee) Full, QB Ryan Tannehill (Left Shoulder) Full and S Jimmy Wilson (Hamstring) Full.

Game Keys

Run the ball- Stats can be misleading but I’m going to throw a few stats out to prove my point. The Jets rank 32nd in passing yards per game , 31st in touchdown passes , 32nd, in quarterback rating and are tied for sixth in most interceptions thrown with 12 .

The Dolphins are excellent against the pass. They allow the fourth fewest yards per game in the NFL . But they allow over 104 rushing yards per game .

While the Jets have their severe deficiencies throwing the ball, they have been outstanding running the ball. Led by Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson, the Jets average over four yards per carry .

And even though the running game seems to be abandoned at times, the Jets are still ranked fifth in the NFL in yards per game rushing for over 136 yards.

The Jets seemed to find the right formula for winning against the Patriots. Even though they lost, they controlled the clock by running the ball down New England’s throat and should have beaten perhaps the best team in the NFL right now.

With so many questions at quarterback, relying on the run should be a no-brainer. Offensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg needs to avoid getting too cute with the play calling and ride Ivory and Johnson.

Give Geno Smith time to throw- The Jets offensive line was putrid against the Bills. Vick and Geno Smith were sacked a combined total of seven times and hit nine.

The Bills forced most of their pressure with only rushing four players and dropping seven into coverage.

Good quarterbacks in the NFL have trouble finding the open man when the defense drops seven or eight guys in coverage, couple that with no time to throw the ball and results like the one last week are almost certain.

The Jets offensive line has struggled mightily at times this season. Nick Mangold has been solid and while Ryan believes tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson is having a “phenomenal year” he has struggled as well.

While the Dolphins defensive line is not as talented as the Bills’, they are no slouches. Led by edge rushers Cameron Wake (8.5 sacks) and Oliver Vernon (5.5 sacks) they have the ability to put pressure and make life miserable for the quarterback.

The Dolphins have trouble stopping the run so look for them to stuff eight men in the box and make Smith beat them.

In the Jets two wins this season, their quarterbacks have only been sacked an average of three times and hit and average of four times.

In their nine losses, the average amount of sacks remains about the same but they have given up an average of almost seven quarterback hits. And if Smith and Vick weren’t mobile quarterbacks, that number would be much higher.

Smith has shown that he has the capability to hit the open man when he is given time to throw. He has also shown what happens when he is facing constant pressure throughout the game and it isn’t pretty.

Play Smart- This may be a broad term and it may be something people feel doesn’t need to be said but it does because the Jets haven’t played smartly this year.

Forget freak plays like the Sheldon Richardson timeout that cost them a game tying touchdown against the Packers. In almost every game this season, the Jets have burned timeouts, committed inexcusable penalties and that starts with the coaching.

Take this sequence of events from the Bills game.

Down 7-3 with 9:27 left the Jets started the drive with a ten-yard pass from Vick to Kerley and an 11-yard Chris Ivory run. Then it all fell apart in a series of plays that is representative of the Jets’ season.

Vick was called for a delay of game penalty turning a 1st-and-10 into a 1st-and-15, to avoid a second straight delay of game penalty the Jets burned a timeout. Vick then completed a pass to Eric Decker for an eight-yard gain, Vick was sacked on the next play for a loss of nine followed by an false start penalty on Breno Giacomini.

The drive finally ended when on 3rd-and-21, Vick failed to connect with Decker --who was double covered.

The Bills followed the Jets’ poor drive with a 13-play, 90-yard drive for a touchdown extending their lead and they never looked back.

These series of events encapsulates the Jets season. They haven’t played a lot of winning football this season and that has to change if they’re going to beat the Dolphins.

X-Factors

Geno Smith- Perhaps the biggest question mark heading into Monday’s game against the Fins is Smith. His last start was a disaster, when he threw three interceptions in the Jets’ first four series. He looked decent against the Bills in relief of Vick, completing 10 of his 12 pass attempts.

Smith has had his struggles this season, specifically with turnovers. He has ten interceptions and has lost two fumbles, totaling twelve turnovers in only eight starts.

It has not been all bad for Smith. At times specifically against the Broncos and the Patriots he looked good and showed the potential to be a solid starting quarterback.

After being benched for the first time in his career, this is Smith’s opportunity to show the Jets that he took the benching in stride, and learned from his previous mistakes, avoids locking in on his receivers and most importantly, take care of the football.

Darrin Walls- In his first game back since missing two weeks with a calf injury, Walls had his struggles against the Bills. Walls primarily covered Bills wide receiver Robert Woods, who torched Walls and the Jets secondary for nine catches (including one circus grab ) for a 118 yards and a touchdown.

This week’s matchups don’t get any easier as Walls will be tasked with covering either Jarvis Landry or Mike Wallace.

Wallace, the former Pittsburgh Steeler, is a tremendous big-play threat with tremendous speed. He is averaging over 12 yards per catch and is tied for 14th in the NFL in touchdown catches with seven.

Landry, a part of the deep rookie class of receivers has burst on to the scene with Miami. The second-round pick leads the Dolphins in receptions with 49 and is second on the team in touchdown catches with five. The rookie was also named AFC special teams player of the month for October.

The Dolphins will most likely test Walls early and often to see if he is up to challenge of covering Wallace or Landry.

Ryan Tannehill- The last time the Jets faced Ryan Tannehill, they were able to pressure him into making bad decisions and forced three interceptions in week 17 of last year.

They will need to do more of the same to stop him this game as he has found his groove after a shaky start to the season where there was talk he could be benched.

Tannehill has had multiple touchdown games in seven of the Dolphins 11 games this season and has done a much better job of taking care of the ball. He has cut down on his interceptions from throwing 17 last year to only eight this year.

Last week against a good Denver Broncos defense, he threw three touchdowns and rushed for another, finishing with a rating of over 100. In fact in three of his last four games, Tannehill has finished with a quarterback rating over 100.

However, Tannehill is still susceptible to pressure and say what you want about the Jets, they are adept at pressuring the quarterback even when only rushing three defenders.

If the Jets are able to get pressure on Tannehill, he won’t have time to get away that deep ball he loves to throw and for the Jets sake hopefully result in hurried throws and interceptions.

The Pick- The Jets are an incredibly hard team to make predictions for. When you think they are going to do well or win, they get blown out and when you think they’ll get blown out, they keep it close.

The Jets are 0-2 on Monday night this season and I think that record will fall to 0-3. I think the Jets will have trouble stopping the Dolphins up-tempo passing game and with the potential loss of Muhammad Wilkerson due to a toe injury the outlook looks bleak.

It is also tough to predict the play of Geno Smith. Like the Jets, when you think he has turned the corner, he struggles and when you think he will play bad, he surprises you. He is also in a position he has never been in before—starting after being benched for two weeks. It will be interesting to see how sharp his rapport is with the receivers given that this week will be the first week in a few weeks that he has gotten first team reps in practice.

I do think the Jets will come out with a much better effort than the one they gave last week. This is said a lot but it’s true, there is a ton of pride in that locker room and they hate being attached with the stigma of being losers.

If the Jets won, I wouldn’t be surprised but I think the Dolphins will take this primetime matchup in a close one.

Dolphins win 24-21



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