Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets: What's the Game Plan for Miami?November 28, 2015
The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets will battle for the second time this season, this time trading Wembley Stadium and Merry Old England for the more familiar setting of the Meadowlands and MetLife Stadium.
MetLife Stadium has been good to the Dolphins, as they have won the last three meetings between the two teams in New Jersey as well as six out of the last seven. MetLife Stadium has treated the Dolphins much better than Sun Life Stadium has in this series recently.
Both teams are coming off disastrous losses to teams from the Lone Star State, and while the Jets are tied with the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans for the final playoff spot in the AFC, Miami is one game behind and will need a lot of help.
That help could start with the Dolphins helping themselves to their first division win of the season against New York. How can they do it? Let's take a look at the game plan Miami should use against the hated Jets.
Offensive Game Plan for Miami
The Jets are ranked fifth in the NFL in total defense, allowing only 323 yards per game. In terms of points scored against the Jets, they're ranked 11th, allowing 20.8 points per game.
This is a good defense, one that appears to be without weakness, as it only allows 3.8 yards per carry vs. the run (tied for seventh in the league) while allowing only 231.4 yards per game in the air (ranking them 11th).
This is a complete defense when everyone is healthy and on the field. That won't be the case on Sunday, as the Jets will be without cornerback Darrelle Revis, per Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post.
According to Hubbuch, undrafted second-year corner Marcus Williams will fill in for Revis, which isn't as drastic of a drop-off as you'd think. As a backup, Williams graded out at 1.6 in the Jets' last meeting with Miami, which was the same grade as Revis. Williams allowed only one catch by Jordan Cameron for eight yards on three targets.
While it's not a drastic drop-off, it's a potential mismatch waiting to happen. With Williams coming in at 5'11", 196 pounds, it would behoove the Dolphins to get him matched up with 6'3'', 218-pound rookie receiver DeVante Parker, who could use his size advantage to both beat out Williams and get open.
As for running against the Jets, it will be a difficult proposition, yet it must be done. The Dolphins were able to run for an average of 5.4 yards per carry in their first meeting, but only ran the ball 11 times. They were also without rookie running back Jay Ajayi.
A combined 30 carries for Ajayi and starter Lamar Miller would greatly help the Dolphins, as it would at the very least control the clock and not allow the Jets' methodical if at-times flawed offense to control the pace of the game with their strong run game.
Defensive Game Plan for Miami
Get to the quarterback.
That's the plan Miami should use. In New York's five wins this season, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked only three times. In their five losses—with one of those games being without Fitzpatrick—he was sacked seven times.
The more Fitzpatrick is under duress, the more turnovers he commits. Fitzpatrick has thrown 11 interceptions this season, seven of which came in losses.
The main focus of New York's offense is the run game, something that the Dolphins will have issues with. Miami is still ranked 31st in the league in run defense, allowing 138.6 yards per game. The Jets offense runs for 112 yards per game and runs the ball 28.6 times per game, so the Dolphins will see a lot of the Jets run game.
In their first meeting, the Dolphins couldn't find a way to contain Chris Ivory. Ivory ran for 166 yards and a touchdown and had his way against the Dolphins defense. To counter this, the Dolphins might have to stack the box and be aggressive up front. Daring Fitzpatrick to beat you is the best way to defeat the Jets, as the five teams that have beaten them have illustrated.
Key Players and Matchups
As mentioned earlier, Ivory had his way with the Dolphins defense in their first meeting, but he's not the player we're focusing on. What could make Ivory's job tougher is the fact that center Nick Mangold is on the Jets' injury list, and per Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post, whether he plays or not will depend on his pain threshold and if he can snap the ball after he was knocked out of last week's game vs. Houston with a hand laceration that required seven stitches.
Mangold could very well be the most important offensive player on the Jets, so if he has difficulties snapping the ball because of his injury, it could lead to a Dolphins advantage. The injury should already impair his ability to block, which should allow defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh, Earl Mitchell and C.J. Mosley to create the gaps necessary for Miami's linebackers to penetrate the backfield.
A key player for the Dolphins will be right guard Billy Turner. After a fast start, Turner has started to regress a bit but did well against a tough Dallas Cowboys defensive front, grading out at 3.1 via Pro Football Focus with a 2.0 grade as a run blocker.
Turner will have to hold back rookie defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who has so far had an impressive rookie season. His best game came against these same Dolphins, where he graded out at 8.7, and while he didn't have any sacks he did hit Ryan Tannehill five times.
This is a different Dolphins team than the one that played the Jets in Week 4. Likewise, this is a different Jets team. The Jets were 3-1 following that game, but have gone 2-4 since then. The Dolphins have gone 3-3 since their last meeting.
With a continued commitment to the run game as well as the fact that they will face a more-depleted Jets defense, the Dolphins should be able to squeak out of MetLife Stadium with a very close victory. As corny as it sounds, I just can't see this team going winless within their division, and between their final two divisional games, this one is much more winnable.
The Jets are a team on the upswing in the long term, but for this season, their momentum seems to be trending down. That will continue on Sunday.
Final Prediction: Dolphins 23, Jets 22
Statistics provided by NFL.com. Advanced Stats provided by Pro Football Focus.