Miami Dolphins: Most Critical Matchups vs. New York Jets
It is finally here. The matchup that all Dolphins fans love to see. The New York Jets will be traveling to Miami to take on a confident Dolphins team coming off their first win of the season, while the Jets try to bounce back from a tough loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This is usually one of the more exciting games in the NFL, even when both teams are not exactly at the top of their game. The Dolphins and Jets each won a game last season, but the Dolphins have won five of the last seven games after the Jets had dominated the series, winning five straight games.
Both teams are coming into this game with a 1-1 record, but with very different attitudes. The Dolphins will be looking to further demoralize the Jets and take the upper hand in the AFC East race.
There will be a few key matchups that will impact the outcome of this game. Let's take a look at them.
Ryan Tannehill vs. New York Jets Defense
We saw Ryan Tannehill struggle against a top-notch Houston Texans defense in Week 1. We also saw him succeed against a weaker Oakland Raiders defense. Now, we will see him against one of the best defenses in the league.
Tannehill will have to deal with the constant blitz packages Rex Ryan will throw at the rookie quarterback, looking to confuse him and force him to change plays at the line of scrimmage. Tannehill will also throw against one of the league's top corner duos in Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
This is a good game for Tannehill to see how much he has improved since Week 1 against the Texans' top defense. He will be shown a lot of different coverages, which he will have to read and adjust to. It will be a good learning experience for Tannehill.
Brian Hartline vs. Darrelle Revis
Brian Hartline proved last game against the Oakland Raiders that he is a reliable receiver. He also appears to be Ryan Tannehill's favorite target. After being covered by Shawntae Spencer, Ron Bartell and Joselio Hanson last week, Hartline will most likely be matched up against Darrelle Revis.
Hartline will have his hands full against Revis, and vice versa. He will have to run crisp routes and create separation to give Tannehill room to throw the ball. Revis is one of the best in the league at reading plays and jumping in front of the receiver to intercept the football.
Hartline will probably see less targets this game as opposed to last week against the Raiders, due to the fact that Revis will be on him most of the time. This will force Tannehill to spread the ball around and rely on the other receivers to create plays.
Revis has proved to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL the last few years. He missed the Jets' previous game due to a concussion and is still questionable for this game, but if he does play, this will be a fun matchup to watch.
Miami Dolphins Defensive Line vs. New York Jets Running Game
Coming into the season, we knew that the Dolphins would field one of the best defensive front four. They have finished in the top 10 in rushing defense the last few years. This year, they don't appear to be slowing down.
They held one of the top rushing duos in the NFL—Houston's Arian Foster and Ben Tate—to 83 total rushing yards on 35 carries. They also held Oakland's Darren McFadden in check, allowing him to rush for a measly 22 yards on 11 carries.
The Dolphins will now face a very familiar ground-and-pound New York Jets offense. Former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano is the Jets' offensive coordinator, and I expect him to try and establish the running game early.
The Jets are only 18th in rushing yards per game, but they like to play a physical game that is usually won in the trenches. Miami's defensive line is ready for the challenge, with Paul Soliai and Randy Starks clogging the middle and taking away any running holes.
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