New York needs a win at Miami, along with losses by the Bengals, Titans and Raiders or Broncos. The most difficult part of this whole equation may be beating the Dolphins, who have played terrific football as of late.
Here are five keys to a win in South Beach on Sunday.
1. Contain Reggie Bush
The Jets have been burned by star running backs all year long, especially over the last two weeks. Reggie Bush has been one of the hottest rushers in the NFL over the last month, as he has exploded for over 100 yards in each of his last four games.
In order to beat the Dolphins, New York has to limit Bush on the ground. This means big games from run stoppers Mike DeVito and Sione Pouha, as they need to physically dominate a formidable Miami offensive line.
2. Improved Safety Play
Since Jim Leonhard's injury a few weeks ago, the Jets have really struggled defending the pass across the middle. Eric Smith and Brodney Pool have been lit up by opposing slot receivers and tight ends, as Victor Cruz and Brent Celek have combined for eight catches, 310 yards and two touchdowns in just two weeks.
Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano is not the most talented pass catcher, but he is capable of putting up big numbers any given week.
Gang Green's safeties do not boast the size to compete with Fasano, but they can use their speed to neutralize the passing attack down the middle. Davone Bess also needs to be contained in the slot.
3. Attempt Deep Passes and Protect Mark Sanchez
Mark Sanchez's accuracy has kept the Jets from attempting deep passes all year. Without the threat of going deep, opposing defenses can stack the box against New York.
In order to keep the Dolphins defense on their toes, Gang Green needs to try big plays down the field to Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller. Miami is not a good pass defense, as they rank just 26th in the league against the pass.
The Jets offensive line need to protect Mark Sanchez, as they have been dominated by imposing pass rushes all year long.
Right tackle Wayne Hunter is the biggest liability, as he is continually beaten off the snap. He needs to contain Dolphins linebacker Cameron Wake for the Jets to establish a passing game.
4. Keep a Balance on Offense
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer completely abandoned the running game in the second half last week, and decided to let Mark Sanchez fling it. This was not a good idea, as the Jets failed to get anything going on offense, and they committed numerous turnovers.
In order to give Sanchez confidence, the Jets need to have a balanced offensive attack. Miami may rank third in the NFL against the run, but Sanchez does not have the ability to carry an offense for 60 minutes.
5. Pressure Matt Moore
New York's pass rush was not terrible last week, as they managed to disrupt Eli Manning multiple times. If they are to claim a big win over the Dolphins, they need to pressure Matt Moore consistently.
Moore is an underrated quarterback, and he has shown he can dissect an opposing defense when given time in the pocket.
However, the Miami signal-caller has made crucial mistakes when he is continually disturbed by a pass rush. Aaron Maybin and Co. need to outplay Miami's offensive line and prevent Moore from finding open receivers in the secondary.
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