Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets: Complete Week 13 Preview for Miami
This matchup is a figurative blood feud between two teams who have never liked each other, filled with entertaining trash talk between the two squads prior to (and after) the game, with big stakes on the line for both teams.
This year, it's different.
This year, the two teams—teams that are usually similar recordwise—couldn't find themselves in different situations.
Miami is 6-5, three games out of the division lead, one game out of a wild-card spot and, in the process, has impressed around the NFL. In its victories this season, it has outscored its opponents by 19 points per game.
The Dolphins have also been privy to the maturation of Ryan Tannehill, who thus far has a passer rating of 93.4 and has thrown for 2,582 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 66.1 percent of his passes.
The Jets are a prime example of a team trending downward. They have already passed last year's loss total and are just one loss away from tying their worst season under Rex Ryan (2012, when they went 6-10). Their status at quarterback is shaky with Geno Smith set to take over for Michael Vick on Monday night.
So should we throw their current records out this time around? Lean toward yes, but you just never know when you see Miami's aqua and orange and the green and the white of the Jets on the same field—especially during a Monday night.
With that being said, here's a preview of this week's contest between the Dolphins and the Jets.
Miami Dolphins' Week 12 Recap
In Week 12, Dolphins fans had every reason to be encouraged, as Tannehill went toe-to-toe with Peyton Manning and passed the test with flying colors, completing 26 of 38 passes for 228 yards, three touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
Unfortunately for Tannehill, Miami's defense failed the Dolphins offense, a unit that put up its most impressive performance since Week 9 against the San Diego Chargers.
The Dolphins defense allowed Denver's offense to gain 450 total yards, which, against Manning, doesn't seem like such a big deal, until you realize that 201 yards were gained on the ground.
Keep in mind, Denver's run game was looked at as a weakness going into the game Sunday.
Cameron Wake was invisible, the Dolphins were mauled up the middle, and the breakdown of the defensive line led to a breakdown for the rest of the defense.
It didn't help that the linebackers and the secondary couldn't seem to figure out how to tackle.
Despite the defense's awful performance, Miami still only lost 39-36, but thank the offense for that.
In addition to Tannehill's great performance throwing the ball, Miami's run offense gained 97 yards on 21 attempts, a number of attempts that felt like it was a bit too low considering the team it was facing.
News and Notes
This week's news and notes are dedicated to the Dolphins secondary.
Dolphins Bring Back R.J. Stanford
The Dolphins have plenty to be concerned about in their secondary.
The unit is pretty top heavy already, but to make matters worse, it's now banged up. Depth is needed, and this late in the season, the preference is to go with someone who knows the defense and knows the system.
That is why it made sense for the Dolphins to sign R.J. Stanford, per Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald, who, for the last two seasons in Miami, primarily played on special teams.
Stanford provides Miami with a bit more depth at the position and, more importantly at this point of the season, with familiarity. He won't have to spend time learning a new defense; he can just plug himself in and play.
Cortland Finnegan Returns to Practice
After missing the last two games, the Dolphins have Cortland Finnegan back.
Per Chris Perkins of The Sun-Sentinel, Finnegan returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday.
So far, it looks like the Dolphins will work Finnegan back in slowly and are just testing him out for now. If he cannot go Monday, expect Walt Aikens, Stanford or Lowell Rose to play in his place.
If there was a week for Miami to be weak in the secondary, this is it, so there's really no point right now in rushing Finnegan back into the game. Miami will need him more against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14 and the New England Patriots in Week 15.
Jamar Taylor To Miss Next Three Weeks
After getting hurt against Denver, it looked like Jamar Taylor's injury would be bad enough that he'd miss the rest of the season.
This wouldn't come to pass, as instead Taylor's injury will only cost him the next three weeks. There's five weeks left in the season.
Andrew Abramson of The Palm Beach Post reports that Taylor's shoulder injury will not need surgery, which is great news for Taylor and the Dolphins. In these next three weeks, the Dolphins hope to have Finnegan back at his spot, a spot Taylor filled in at quite well over the last two weeks.
|Charles Clay||Tight End||Hamstring/Knee||Doubtful|
|Mike Wallace||Wide Receiver||Chest||Questionable|
|Rishard Matthews||Wide Receiver||Groin||Questionable|
|Lamar Miller||Running Back||Knee||Questionable|
Injury statuses courtesy of MiamiDolphins.com as of November 29, 2014 and will continue to be updated as more reports are released.
A lot of questions along the offensive line with Colledge and Satele listed as questionable and Nate Garner listed as doubtful, with only the defensive backs faring worse in the injury department.
X-Factor and Matchups to Watch
Cameron Wake vs. Breno Giacomini
Miami's defensive line is in dire need of a bounce-back game.
This looks like it would be the right game. The Jets' offensive line has allowed its quarterback to be sacked 36 times despite both of its quarterbacks this season (Smith and Vick) being fairly mobile players.
Granted, in terms of mobility, Vick isn't what he used to be, but it speaks volumes as to how bad the offensive line is with those two under center; it ranks third to last in the league in sacks allowed.
Cameron Wake, invisible against Denver, will have the opportunity to feast on Breno Giacomini, whom Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranks as the 48th-best tackle.
Brent Grimes vs. Eric Decker
We always put a Brent Grimes matchup here, and this week, I'm not going to stop that weekly tradition on account of an incompetent offense.
With that being said, Decker can still be a threat—although not the threat he was in Denver the last two seasons. He is the Jets' leading receiver with 47 catches for 513 yards and four touchdowns.
Of course, Decker might not even be the receiver Grimes is paired up against Monday.
Brent Grimes vs. Percy Harvin
This seems a bit more likely considering that Harvin is a threat any time he is on the field, whereas Decker is a possession receiver. Grimes will have to contain Harvin, who will get plenty of targets short in the hopes that he can turn nothing into something.
This is more of a tackling assignment for Grimes, so don't be too surprised if he struggles here.
X-Factor: Mike Wallace
I break out a lot of Mike Wallace in this game.
I'd let him go deep in order to take advantage of New York's weak secondary, while also using him in short-yardage plays. Make Wallace a Swiss Army knife, and the offense should prosper come Monday.
Let's go back to the beginning of this slideshow, where I said this was the type of game in which you throw records away.
This game seems so different because each of these teams is so different. Both of their seasons couldn't have gone any differently up to this point, and it's shocking that this late in the season, the two teams don't have the same record (or are close to each other recordwise), which is something that we're used to seeing.
Even if you look at each team's roster, the Dolphins only have edges at quarterback, secondary and offensive line. Everywhere else is pretty even.
Coaching is even, in fact, defensively, the Jets coaches have the advantage (offensively, it's no contest; Miami is ahead).
In terms of head coaching, Rex Ryan has always seemed like a better coach than Joe Philbin, and in fact, Ryan has outcoached Philbin badly in two of their four games against each other (with New York losing the games it lost due to quarterback failure).
With that being said, the Jets do know how to implode, and they haven't even begun to really give us the full New York Post backpage implosion. This is the Jets' second nationally televised prime-time game (their first one was a close affair with New England), and usually in this type of implosion, you have to include losing the home prime-time game with Jets fans booing midway into the second quarter and a change in quarterbacks occurring.
It could happen against the Dolphins, and in fact, it will happen against the Dolphins.
But it will be for this reason: Miami is that good.
Tannehill will continue to be his efficient self. Lamar Miller will continue to run the ball well.
The defensive line will wake up, and the secondary—as banged up as it is—will force at least two turnovers.
You will get sick of Jon Gruden complimenting Tannehill ("now that Ryan Tannehill—he's a football player"), and you will hear Mike Tirico talk about how the Dolphins showed "moxie in putting last season's scandal behind them" which will make your eyes (and mine) roll to the back of your head.
You will get a second half in which you will want to turn on Joe Rose and Jimmy Cefalo's call of the game because the score will be bad enough in the second half that Tirico and Gruden will spend their time talking about how bad the Jets are and what (or who) can save them.
You will see Matt Moore and not in the way that a small minority of readers would like to see him.
The records do matter, and we will see this Monday night.
Prediction: Dolphins 33, Jets 10.
Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.