1. NY Jets DT Quinnen Williams vs. Dolphins LG Liam Eichenberg
The chess match between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets starts up front.
It's no secret that New York's best front-seven player is defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. The fourth-year pro is off to a fantastic start this season. He has 2.5 sacks, is third in pressure rate (12%) amongst defensive tackles, and first in QB hits (7).
Williams may not get the national attention or recognition from Jets fans that he deserves, but rest assured, opponents are aware of his presence.
Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich has opted for a rotational system on his defensive line, and as a result, it's limited Williams to just over 60 percent of the team's defensive snaps.
The fewer plays Williams is on the field, the happier Mike McDaniel will be. It might be time for Ulbrich to loosen his systematic restriction on his best player up front.
On paper, head to head, this is a bad matchup for Dolphins left guard Liam Eichenberg. The former second-round pick has transitioned from playing left tackle to guard this season, and it's come with mixed results thus far. Eichenberg has been charted with 12 pressures allowed this season a year after allowing 62 at tackle.
McDaniel and Miami offensive line coach Matt Applebaum will get Eichenberg help on the interior because a one-on-one matchup with Williams doesn't favor the Dolphins. A dominant Quinnen Williams who occupies attention could free up the Jets' other defensive linemen to make plays.
Miami's line play, particularly in pass protection, hasn't been picture-perfect this season, but they have done an excellent job limiting negative plays through their scheming and play designs.
A week ago, Miami only allowed one sack on 38 dropbacks against a formidable Bengals defensive front. On the year, the Dolphins have allowed a league-low 20.8 pressure rate by opposing defenses.
Look for Miami to justifiably double Williams, to keep him from disrupting the pocket. If they can do that, Teddy Bridgewater will have a clean pocket to find his dynamic playmakers down the field. If not, the Jets might win this game by winning this matchup in the trenches.