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2015 Free Agency
The 6-5 Miami Dolphins, coming off a tough 39-36 lost at Denver to the Broncos, travel to New Jersey to take on the 2-9 New York Jets, coming off a 38-3 lost on Sunday to Buffalo in Detroit. The game is a Monday Night primetime slot starting at 8:30, and it is a big game for Miami in hopes of keeping their playoff hopes alive. To put it bluntly, this is a game the Dolphins cannot afford to have slip away if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Let's take a look at the teams to see how they matchup.
Offensively, Miami comes into the game generating 345.2 yards per game, 220 yards coming via the pass game and 124.5 yards per game via the rush, which ranks 10th in the NFL. The Dolphins are scoring 25.9 points per game, which ranks 9th. They face a Jets defense that is giving up 324.8 yards per game, which ranks 7th in the NFL. 238.6 yards via the passing game, 86.2 yards via the run game, which ranks 4th in the NFL. The Jets are giving up 27.5 points per game, which ranks 30th in the NFL.
QB Ryan Tannehill, coming off a very solid game against the Broncos, is completing 66.1% of his passes for 2,582 yards, 20 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions He has also rushed for 276 yards. RB Lamar Miller leads the run attack with 673 yards and 5 touchdowns and a 4.9 yard per carry average. Rookie WR Jarvis Landry leads a bevy of WR with 49 catches for 450 yards and 5 touchdowns. Miami has 4 other receivers with 25 or more catches, which points to the spreading of the ball around. The OL suffered another injury during the Broncos game to OLT Ju'Waun James, although odds look good of him being back for Monday Night. Even with the injuries that the OL has suffered during the season, this group has been a very pleasant surprise and are a big part of the improvement in QB Ryan Tannehill play. They face a talented Jets defense led by leading tackler, ILB Demario Davis along with DL Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. The secondary has struggled, and this is an area Miami will look to attack.
I have always preached balance and will continue to preach balance, as it helps keep this offense on schedule. But the Dolphins will also look to attack a very shaky Jets secondary and I think the Dolphins can have success against a good unit.
Defensively, the Dolphins are coming off what has to be their most disappointing performance of the 2014 year. They allowed 201 yards rushing, 167 to CJ Anderson. Peyton Manning passed for 249 yards and was only sacked once and was rarely pressured. Miami is giving up 315.9 yards per game, which ranks 9th in the NFL. They are giving up 211.7 yards via the pass and 104.2 yards via the rush, which ranks 4th and 11th respectively. Miami is giving up 19.9 points a game, which ranks 9th. They face an anemic New York Jets offense that is generating 310.2 yards per game, which ranks 29th in the NFL. The Jets generate 173.7 yards per game passing, 136.5 yards per game rushing, which ranks 32nd and 5th respectively. The Jets are scoring 16.1 points per game, which ranks 30th in the NFL.
LB Jelani Jenkins is the leading tackler and Cameron Wake is leading the team with 8.5 sacks, although he was pretty much invisible last week. CB Brent Grimes leads the secondary with 5 interceptions. QB Geno Smith the the starting QB again after Mike Vick got hurt in the Buffalo lost. To say Smith has struggled is being kind. He is only completing 57.6% of his passes and has thrown 7 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. RB's Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson lead a two pronged attack with 579 and 400 yard respectively. Eric Decker is the leading receiver with 47 catches for 513 yards and 4 touchdowns. TE Jace Amaro has 34 catches for 291 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The game plan here is quite simple. Stop the RUN, PERIOD. Contain the run game and force QB Geno Smith to throw the ball and the Dolphins will dominate this team. It is really that simple with this Jets team. The Dolphins defense is coming off a horrible game, so I would expect this group to bounce back with a big performance against a struggling Jets offense.
Dolphins need this game to keep their playoff hopes alive. It's that simple.
Let's Go Miami.
Ryan Tannehill - Completed 72% of his passes, threw three touchdowns and posted a QB rating of 104.9. He also ran for a touchdown. The lone blemish on his statline was a throw that hit Jarvis Landry in the hands but bounced up and was picked up by T.J. Ward. Tannehill played more than well enough to win despite facing strong pressure early in the game. Tannehill continues being an arrow up player, now having completed 66% of his passes this season and throwing 20 TDs to 8 INTs with a 93.4 QB rating.
Offensive Line - Despite already being thin, this unit then lost Juwuan James and more shifting around had to take place as Jason Fox came in and saw action at left tackle. The offensive line held up in pass protection for the most part and did a good job of opening run lanes for Lamar Miller.
Defense - They had their worst game of the season as a unit. According to PFF, the only player with a positive grade was Phillip Wheeler. Let that sink in... Phillip Wheeler. As a unit, the defense received a -37.6 overall grade, a -15.7 in run defense, a -8.2 in pass rush and a -11.5 in pass coverage. So to summarize, we couldn't stop the run, we couldn't rush the QB and we couldn't cover. That's a recipe for giving up 39 points. The three worst graded defenders were Randy Starks (which makes sense given how easily the Broncos were getting push and running up the middle), Jelani Jenkins (though for some strange reason he wound up covering Demaryius Thomas A LOT) and Cameron Wake (who got double and triple teamed a lot). Aside from all the yardage and points allowed, the defense missed 14 tackles. That tells the story more than anything else.
You expect Peyton Manning to get his, but when the Broncos are able to go two tight ends and run it right into your strength, that's a problem. Now, given how many players who normally show up every Sunday had a bad game, I have to wonder how much of a role the conditions played. The air is thinner in Denver, so it is harder to catch your breath. How early did the Dolphins fly out to get acclimated to the conditions? That's an interesting question to ask.
Kevin Coyle - Only this guy continues calling off-zone coverage against Peyton Manning. I've been complaining all year about this coverage and how easily good QBs exploit it. Manning ate the secondary apart because his receivers weren't being bumped at the line and were not being re-routed at all. And Coyle's scheme is a huge part of the reason. The defense we ran with under two minutes to go in the 1st half was deplorable. The one time Joe Philbin should call a time out to get his defense organized, he doesn't! It is clear the Dolphins are a better defense when the corners play at the line. It is clear that QBs pick them apart when they go to these soft zones and 3 man rushes. Coyle... time to stop running that crap!
Wide receivers - They did catch 26 passes for 228 yards and 3 TDs, but they fumbled A LOT and Jarvis Landry missed a catch that led to an INT. It was an up and down game for this unit as they made a lot of plays but made a lot of mistakes.
Another tough loss for the Dolphins. They are 0-3 in close games. Good teams win those games. Mediocre teams lose them. They would have been in the driver's seat for a playoff berth, now they either have to win out or get lucky. And winning out with Baltimore and New England remaining on the schedule seems tough.