Heading into the Jets vs Dolphins Week 9 matchup, The Jet Press sits with sportswriter Christa Levitas to discuss the top five questions for Sunday.
Oct 23, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) reacts during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins won 28-25. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Week 9 brings the AFC East division clash of the Jets vs Dolphins. It promises to be a great game as I’ve had the privilege of sitting down with sportswriter Christa Levitas. She’s one of my favorite writers that I thoroughly enjoy reading on a daily basis. Her interviews with players and unique insight make her an expert when it comes to anything about the New York Jets and college football.
You can catch her work via Locker Room Update and even on their official Facebook page. She’s also incredibly active on Twitter so please give her a follow. Heading into Sunday’s game, all eyes will be on the Jets to see if they can put together a three-game winning streak.
The Dolphins are also entering this game winning their last two games and have been looking much-improved compared to earlier in the season. This game could very well come down to the wire as both teams need a win here to salvage something positive for the year.
Without further ado, here is an exclusive sit-down I was able to have with Christa as we discussed the hottest topics going into this Week 9 matchup.
Next: 5. The demise of Revis Island
Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (11) runs out of a tackle from New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
CL: I believe Revis will be able to contain Jarvis Landry. Revis has been on the decline and has not been able to cover those speedy wide receivers like he used to. However, I still believe he can play and has shown flashes he can still perform at a high level. Against the Ravens, he only allowed one reception for 11 yards on 5 targets over 46 passing yards. He also did a good job covering Terrelle Pryor during the second half keeping him from any receptions. Safety help across the top could benefit Revis against Landry.
LTJ: Very interesting, Christa. I’m sure you’ve heard over the past few weeks that Revis looks like either he’s lost a step or isn’t playing at 100%. Some question his work ethics as he should be healed up to keep up with top receiving targets but is not putting in the required effort. What do you think would truly explain his decline in play this year?
CL: I simply think Father Time has caught up with him. He’s not the Darrelle Revis he once was. He struggles against fast wide receivers and it started to show last year when he got beat against DeAndre Hopkins for example. The Jets secondary as a whole has just looked lost as a unit. I’m not sure if it’s a trust issue with the secondary or it’s a communication issue when it comes to the Jets secondary. There were times where it looked Revis, etc. were looking for safety help and coverages were blown.
Next: 4. How can the Jets beat the Dolphins?
Oct 23, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. The Miami Dolphins defeat the Buffalo Bills 28-25. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
LTJ: Both teams are heading into this game riding a two-game winning streak. What do you believe the Jets need to do in order to defeat the Dolphins on the road?
CL: Running back Jay Ajayi has been on the hot streak before the Dolphins bye week. He had over 200 yards rushing against the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Jets defense is ranked #1 against the run. Gang Green must stack the box and make quarterback Ryan Tannehill beat them with his throws.
They can’t let Ajayi get open in space where he can damage. He is a shifty back who can help take pressure off of Tannehill and gain more yardage on offense. Tannehill currently has just as many interceptions as he does touchdowns. Make him beat you with his decision making. Challenge him to make the throws.
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The Dolphins defense is also ranked in the bottom against the run. I would like to see the Jets use more Bilal Powell and use Matt Forte at the same time. I believe the Jets run game can do damage against the Dolphins defense.
LTJ: I think if the Jets can truly bring the pressure consistently, they should be able to dominate this game. I do worry about Ajayi though, he’s been on fire as of late. Could this game come down to the battle of the running backs?
CL: I agree with you. The Dolphins have started to create a good offense line and drafted a good offensive lineman in Laremy Tunsil. I think this game could come down to who can manage the game the most mistake free as well as who can get their run game going.
Next: 3. Which version of Ryan Fitzpatrick will we get?
LTJ: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has ultimately done just enough to keep his starting spot. It’s no secret that quarterback Bryce Petty is salivating for an opportunity to prove his worth. We really don’t know what version of Fitzpatrick we’ll be getting against the Dolphins but if he drops three interceptions, do you think the Jets would make a quarterback switch again?
CL: At this point, I honestly think Fitzpatrick’s leash isn’t as short as some people think. The Jets gave him a $12M contract and I do believe they think he is the best chance to win. Fitzpatrick has thrown multiple interceptions against the Kansas City Chiefs and the coaching staff refused to pull him out. I think a lot also depends on how comfortable they feel with Petty under center. He is coming off a shoulder injury and I’m not sure how comfortable the Jets feel about starting him. However, if the Jets are out of the NFL Playoffs I could see the Jets starting him.
LTJ: I’ve been an advocate to have Petty start but I do agree, Fitzpatrick is doing his part of winning football games and that is all that matters. Speaking of the offense, should the Jets try to beat the Dolphins with a heavy run-oriented attack like we’ve been seeing or do you see them airing it out more?
CL: I’d like to see the Jets be more balanced between the two. Although the Dolphins weakness is against the run game, I feel the Jets have to also keep them on their toes. I’d like to see the Jets use more Powell since he is so explosive and is such a playmaker. Powell brings a spark to the Jets offense. I do like to see the Jets also throw the ball more to help set up the run. I’d like to see them get Quincy Enunwa more involved on offense as well. Similar to Powell when Quincy has the ball, he takes off.
Next: 2. How had Todd Bowles done so far this season?
Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
LTJ: Head coach Todd Bowles has gotten better at making key adjustments, especially at halftime. How would you rate him so far up to this season heading into this important AFC East divisional matchup?
CL: I agree with you. He has shown some improvement in that aspect. For me has done some good and some puzzling moves. I’d like to see Bowles show more emotion and I was happy to hear he did just that against the Browns during half time.
My biggest criticism when it comes to Bowles is how he uses his talent. The Jets have a lot of talented guys but they are not playing like it. I do not want to see Sheldon Richardson dropping down in coverage. Richardson is a great athlete who I believe should stay at DL. I don’t think he should be using Mike Catapano to cover slot receivers since he is slow.
Lorenzo Mauldin has not gotten as much playing time until recently. I believe he needs to find a way to get every one of his players involved where they don’t have to play out of position. Bowles has shown is he trying to learn and has made improvements but I want to see him continue to make adjustments throughout the games, not wait until the half. I want Bowles to have more faith to go for it on 4th like I saw last game, I also want to see him put players where they succeed.
LTJ: Every single time I see Richardson lined up as a linebacker, it makes me seriously question why are they wasting their time with such nonsense? Completely agree with you as it’s ridiculous to put him in such a position with “hope” he’ll make a big play. I agree that aggression is key, look at the Oakland Raiders and why they have guts to go for it, even with the game on the line. What are your early impressions on head coach Adam Gase of the Dolphins so far in his first year at the helm?
CL: I haven’t been watching much of the Dolphins. But from the Dolphins games I have watched, Adam Gase is intelligent and knows how to make adjustments when needed to better his team. He is also a good problem solver which is a great trait in a head coach.
Next: 1. Final score and MVP?
Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) celebrates with wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) after Enunwa scored a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
LTJ: Now it’s time to look into your crystal ball and give a final score and prediction for MVP of this Week 9 matchup between the Jets and Dolphins. Which team do you see leaving this game victorious and who will be the MVP?
CL: 21-14 Jets as I think Quincy Enunwa will be the MVP.
LTJ: Nice prediction there, I also see the Jets winning 17-7 in what should be a defensive battle between both teams. Speaking of Enunwa, do you feel he’s finally found his stride? He’s on pace for a breakout year, do you think he will become the next No. 1 receiving option on the Jets within the next year or two?
CL: Thanks! Yes, I believe he has done an incredible job stepping up for the Jets. He has turned into such a playmaker for the Jets. Teams are starting to recognize the kind of playmaker he is and he knows how to beat defenders with his legs. I do think Enunwa has a lot of major potential to be a #1 or #2 for the Jets down the road.