Jets vs. Dolphins: Sketching out a Game Plan for Miami

Erik FrenzSenior Writer ISeptember 21, 2012

Dec 12 2010; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) lays on the ground after missing the fourth down conversion while Miami Dolphins linebacker Cameron Wake (91) celebrates during the second half at the New Meadowlands Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Alan Maglaque-US PRESSWIRE
Alan Maglaque-US PRESSWIRE

If the Miami Dolphins play anything like they did last Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, they'll be tough to stop. That being said, the New York Jets are not the Raiders. The Dolphins will have to draw up a game plan that maximizes their strengths and covers up any weaknesses.

Their strengths are no secret. They play good run defense, and they run the ball extremely well with Reggie Bush.

So how do the Dolphins best use those strengths to their advantage against the Jets? Here's the game plan.


Bread-And-Butter On Offense

Outside of the second half of their blowout win over the Buffalo Bills, the Jets have been stout in run defense for the most part. Regardless, the Dolphins have been so good running the football through two weeks, they should try anyway.

The Jets lack speed at linebacker and had a hard time stopping Bills running back C.J. Spiller, whose skill set is similar to Reggie Bush's.

The Bills took advantage of this mismatch by getting Spiller out in space against the Jets linebackers, and one way they did this was on draw plays.

Notice how the hole opens up for Spiller, and Jets linebacker Bart Scott even has an opportunity to stop the play for a short gain.

Unfortunately for Scott, he's just not quick enough to keep up with Spiller, and it ends up being an eight-yard gain.

There likely won't be a ton of shotgun handoffs, but expect the Dolphins to look for ways to get Bush out in space against the Jets linebackers.

The coaching regime of Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman came to Miami with the promise of an aerial assault based around the West Coast offense. If there are strong West Coast tendencies in this offense, though, we've yet to see them.

This has been a very traditional offense through two weeks—they love the 21 personnel grouping of two backs, a tight end and two wide receivers.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill may find it tougher to throw against the Jets' vaunted pass defense than it was against the Raiders, so the Dolphins should look to establish the running game early.

They will probably continue to look to that grouping against the Jets, as they have used it to both run and pass the ball. If they are able to force the Jets to play the box a little more than they might like to, the Dolphins will better be able to take advantage of matchup problems created by getting Anthony Fasano matched up on Bart Scott, and either Daniel Thomas or Lamar Miller matched up on linebacker Bryan Thomas.


Aggressive Defense In Coverage and Up Front

The Dolphins have fielded one of the league's most dominant run defenses through the first two weeks of the season. The Jets would love to run the ball effectively, but this may not be the best matchup for them to do it.

The Jets proved that they can get it done even without a big performance from their running game, getting a career day from Mark Sanchez against the Bills.

Last week, the Jets offense was thrown out of sync when the Steelers cornerbacks got aggressive with the Jets receivers at the line of scrimmage. 

In terms of the top options in the passing game and Miami's top options at cornerback, the size mismatch is evident once again. The Dolphins could probably try a similar approach to what the Steelers were able to do, at least on the outsides.

If last week is any indication, the strategy should work very well.

Just about any time the Jets faced a passing down, the Steelers pressed the line.

As a result, the Jets had a hard time getting away from the Steelers defensive backs.

It's not just about the coverage, though. The Dolphins have to be able to get pressure on Sanchez, as he has

The Dolphins have run a very vanilla defensive scheme up front, as pointed out by Bleacher Report featured columnist Alex Miglio.

Sanchez lit up the Bills in the Jets' Week 1 rout. Part of it was a Bills secondary that seemed overwhelmed at times—how else do you explain Jets receivers being so open all game long—but Buffalo’s supposedly improved pass rush was also nonexistent.

...The Steelers wisely blitzed Sanchez more than the Bills did. He saw blitzes on 16 of 29 pass plays, more than double the percentage of blitzes he saw against the Bills. Sanchez completed just 43.8 percent of his passes when blitzed in Week 2 for a quarterback rating of 58.3. 

The Dolphins don't typically send extra men on the rush, wrote Miglio , but they would be wise to do so in an effort to create as much pressure on Sanchez as possible. 

He is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league when under pressure. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranked dead last in completion percentage under pressure in 2011, connecting on just 36.1 percent of his throws.

Airtight coverage on the outside combined with solid pressure from the defensive front could make this a very long day the for the Jets offense.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.