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Jets vs. Dolphins: 3 keys to victory for Gang Green

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 24: Josh McCown #15 of the New York Jets and Jay Cutler #6 of the Miami Dolphins meet after the Jets 20-6 win after their game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 24: Josh McCown #15 of the New York Jets and Jay Cutler #6 of the Miami Dolphins meet after the Jets 20-6 win after their game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 24: Josh McCown #15 of the New York Jets and Jay Cutler #6 of the Miami Dolphins meet after the Jets 20-6 win after their game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 24: Josh McCown #15 of the New York Jets and Jay Cutler #6 of the Miami Dolphins meet after the Jets 20-6 win after their game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The New York Jets will have to quickly overcome last week’s devastating loss. Another on Sunday could derail the season.

Week 7 spells another divisional rivalry matchup for the New York Jets as they’ll travel to South Beach to take on the Miami Dolphins. These two met in Week 3 in the Meadowlands where Gang Green came out on top 20-6. A lot has happened since then.

The Jets had a potential win over the New England Patriots taken from them in the fourth quarter. Austin Seferian-Jenkins had what looked like his second touchdown of the day, however, the officials said he lost control of the ball and didn’t regain possession in time. Down 24-14 with six minutes left, New York failed to mount a comeback and lost 24-17.

The Dolphins stunned the nation with a victory in Atlanta. They trailed 17-0 at the half and stormed back with 20 unanswered. Adam Gase’s offense racked up 289 total yards and 20 first downs. The defense obviously struggled in the first two quarters, but you have to tip your cap to their second-half shutout against that high-octane offense.

Miami’s momentum might be the difference maker in this matchup. The Jets’ Week 6 loss is one that can linger. The Dolphins, on the other hand, can feed off their win because it won’t get stale anytime soon. Can New York pull off the upset? Here are the three things they have to do.

Next: 3. Explore 4-3 looks

CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 08: Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets looks on in the third quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 08: Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets looks on in the third quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

3. Explore 4-3 looks

Todd Bowles has to find a new way to create pressure. This 3-4 system misses Damon Harrison. Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson were two of the best defensive linemen in the NFL in 2015 due in part to Harrison’s ability to absorb multiple blockers. Steve McLendon can’t give the duo those opportunities. More 4-3 looks could be what finally breaks the ice.

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With the exception of the Houston Texans, most of the top-tier defenses across the league run a 4-3. The Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars have found plenty of success in their scheme. The New York Giants are off to a brutal start, although they thrived in their revamped 4-3 in 2016.

For Gang Green to make this work, you could slot Williams and Wilkerson as the two defensive tackles with Kony Ealy and Jordan Jenkins coming off the edge. Ealy played 4-3 defensive end in Carolina and Jenkins has the strength to start in a stance. You have to earn sacks against Miami’s offensive line. Four men up front are better than three.

Next: 2. Test Miami's cornerbacks

2. Test Miami’s cornerbacks

Given the Dolphins’ improvements at linebacker, cornerback is now the weakest part of their defense. Starters Byron Maxwell and Xavien Howard have underachieved mightily up to this point. Maxwell has a 39.2 overall grade on Pro Football Focus and Howard owns a 37.4. Both are expected to dress on Sunday after practicing fully on Friday.

Where Miami has found production is from rookie Cordrea Tankersley and nickel Bobby McCain. Tankersley has a 76.6 grade on PFF and leads the defense in pass deflections while McCain has a 78. With Maxwell set to retake the field and Howard back to 100 percent, they’ll cut into Tankersley and McCain’s snaps. John Morton can’t be afraid to test them.

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How he could go about doing that is by continuing to feed Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse. These two have combined for four touchdowns and just one drop on the year. Involving ArDarius Stewart may also provide a boost. His athleticism allows Josh McCown to take more chances downfield. It’ll be tough sledding on the ground, so those big plays through the air become crucial.

Next: 1. Protect Josh McCown

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 24: Josh McCown #15 of the New York Jets in action against the Miami Dolphins during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 24: Josh McCown #15 of the New York Jets in action against the Miami Dolphins during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

1. Protect Josh McCown

The Dolphins pride themselves on their stout defensive front. Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, William Hayes, Andre Branch and Charles Harris are a living nightmare for offensive lines. Those five accounts for 10.5 of team’s 12 sacks through their first five games. None of them have PFF pass rushing grades lower than 72.

Gang Green is historically bad at protecting the quarterback against Miami. In Week 3, Morton preached pass blocking efficiency and McCown still was peppered by Wake on the first drive. Let’s not forget about Week 14 of 2016 when Bryce Petty got sandwiched by Wake and Suh. If we really want to turn back the clock, Dolphins legend Jason Taylor is the kingpin Jet destroyer.

Must Read: When will Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg play?

Eric Tomlinson will be of major importance in this contest. McCown is doomed if Brandon Shell is placed on an island at right tackle. Even the underrated Kelvin Beachum on the blind side could be in for a long day. This defense has simply been too troublesome for the Jets to take any chances here. Do whatever you can to give McCown enough time in the pocket.

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