Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets: Top 3 keys to victory for Gang Green
By Ryan Patti
The New York Jets sit at 0-2 after last week’s loss in Oakland. Execution and discipline will have to be much better in Week 3.
Week 3 has arrived which means the New York Jets are back in the ‘Big Apple.’ They’re set to host their division rival Miami Dolphins in their home opener. In 2016, the Dolphins swept Gang Green. They stole a win in South Beach on a Kenyan Drake kick return and embarrassed them in the Meadowlands. Sunday could spell a similar thrashing.
The Jets were beaten down by the Oakland Raiders 45-20 in Week 2. Derek Carr and Michael Crabtree hooked up on three touchdowns while the running game was in full effect. Marshawn Lynch, Jalen Richard, and even Cordarrelle Patterson found pay dirt on the ground. Oakland totaled 410 yards, 180 of which were rushing. Don’t look now, but New York is currently stronger on the other side of the ball.
Miami defeated Los Angeles to begin their 2017 campaign. Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo missed a field goal with 10 seconds left to seal the 19-17 victory. Adam Gase’s men racked up 336 yards and held an explosive offense in check. Jay Cutler accounted for 230 of those yards and a touchdown on 24 of 33 passing.
It’s safe to say the Dolphins are the clear favorites here. The Jets should hang around longer than they did in Oakland, however, it can get ugly if Miami’s defense creates turnovers. Here are three things New York has to do to stay in the game and perhaps come out on top.
Next: 3. Use a lot of nickel coverage
3. Use a lot of nickel coverage
If head coach Todd Bowles doesn’t save his defense, he’s going to have a hard time saving his job. It used to be tough sledding for this unit to get stops on third down. Now, opposing offenses rarely even face a third down. Nickel coverage can be the solution. It puts more speed on the field and helps New York against offenses with a handful of threats, like Miami’s.
It also keeps a linebacker on the sideline. Darron Lee and Demario Davis have both struggled through the first two weeks. On Pro Football Focus, Lee has a 35.7 overall grade and Davis has a 33.8. Their run defense and pass coverage grades are just as ugly. The only grade over a 40 is Lee’s coverage (41.3). Until they improve, one needs to stay off the field.
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The Jets additionally match up well with Miami’s receivers in nickel. Buster Skrine can play his position in the slot instead of on the outside where he’s at a height disadvantage. Morris Claiborne and Juston Burris would be responsible for DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. You can’t expect Skrine to handle either after watching the clinic Crabtree put on. This should be a no-brainer for Bowles.
Next: 2. Involve everyone on offense
2. Involve everyone on offense
Gang Green’s offense hasn’t looked as putrid as we thought it’d be. Many believed this group would be historically bad. Not so fast. They’re ranked 21st in points with 32, ahead of teams like the New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, and Seattle Seahawks. The players deserve most of the credit, but the rest should go to offensive coordinator John Morton. He finds ways to involve everyone and he should continue to do so.
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Morton has begun using sixth-round pick Elijah McGuire to add a new dimension to the ground game. In last week’s contest, the rookie had six carries for 29 yards and one catch for seven yards. Bilal Powell and Matt Forte chimed in for another 104 all-purpose. The three-headed monster will keep a fresh set of legs in the backfield at all times.
Morton is using the tight end position more than Chan Gailey did, although they still can’t find consistency. Eric Tomlinson and Jordan Leggett are banged up while Will Tye turned a productive Week 1 into a dull Week 2. Austin Seferian-Jenkins can answer the bell coming off his two-week suspension. The wideouts have been a pleasant surprise with Jermaine Kearse leading the pack. Overall, if 10 different players get a touch, the offense will have done their part.
Next: 1. Stop the run
1. Stop the run
I thought I wouldn’t have to say this for quite some time, but I have to. The Jets stink against the run. Is it because of the Sheldon Richardson departure? Not exactly. Bowles’ 3-4 scheme started to diminish in 2016 as the run defense was slightly above average. It wasn’t elite like it was the previous three seasons. David Johnson tore them up in Week 6 and none other than Jay Ajayi did in Week 9.
The ‘Unicorn’ as they like to call him in Miami rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries in that contest. On the year, he had 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns on 260 carries in 15 outings. You won’t find numbers like that from most backs. You also won’t find many offensive lines as bulky as his. Laremy Tunsil, Mike Pouncey, and Ja’Wuan James are three big boys who are difficult to disrupt.
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If Muhammad Wilkerson fails to suit up, Gang Green is in a boatload of trouble in the trenches. They’d be forced to lean on Lawrence Thomas and Mike Pennel against this Dolphins line that packs a punch. Leonard Williams and Steve McLendon have to rise to the occasion here. Those two have what it takes to pull this bunch out of the basement in rush yards allowed. Stopping Ajayi is how you beat Miami.