During the season, BGA charts games for some of the Jets’ upcoming opponents, enabling a break down of what to watch out for on gameday…
History tells us that today’s game will be a tight one. The last time the Jets and Dolphins didn’t have at least one of their meetings end up in a one possession game was 1993. The teams met just three weeks ago, with the Dolphins pulling out a 23-3 win as the Jets laid an egg at home. However, both have gone 2-1 since then. Miami was somewhat fortunate to hold on against the Steelers and Patriots, but then were shut out in Buffalo and now need a win to make the postseason (unless the Chargers lose and the Ravens win, in which case they still miss out). A loss eliminates them completely, giving the Jets an opportunity to avenge the last game of the year in 2008 and 2011.
The outcome will also impact upon the Jets’ draft position and their opponents during the 2014 season.
You can refer to my preview from three weeks ago for more detailed breakdowns, but this preview will focus on what’s changed since then.
After the jump, I break down the positional groupings (BGA-style!) to try and highlight what the Jets need to look out for.
Ryan Tannehill picked a really bad week to have one of the worst games of his NFL career last week in Buffalo. He ended up just 10-of-27 for 82 yards, easily the worst output of his career in terms of both completion percentage and yardage.
Tannehill was sacked seven times and completed just one of 10 passes thrown more than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
Prior to that, he had been over 300 yards in three of the previous four games, throwing nine touchdowns and just three interceptions over that span. He’d also led them to five wins in seven games, including the win over the Jets where he passed for a season high 331 yards and two touchdowns.
The offensive line has continued to struggle, with left tackle Bryant McKinnie claiming that the Bills must have known their snap counts in last week’s game, but Dolphins coaches suggesting they did what they could to vary things up.
McKinnie, who is leaving at the end of the season, has been struggling over the past few weeks, but center Mike Pouncey and right tackle Tyson Clabo have been playing some of their best football all season.
At guard, the Dolphins still have an unsettled situation. John Jerry is reliable enough at right guard, but the left guard position seems to change hands every week. Sam Brenner got the start against the Bills, but was benched for former Jet Nate Garner, who looks set to start on Sunday.
Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas couldn’t get anything going against the Bills, combining for just 14 yards on 12 carries. Miller has averaged just 2.8 yards per carry since he rushed for 105 yards in week nine and Thomas has been inconsistent too, averaging less than three yards per carry six times in 14 games. He did rush for 105 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers two weeks ago.
Thomas missed the Jets game three weeks ago and is listed as questionable today. He was held to 42 yards on 15 carries against the Jets last year. The speedy Marcus Thigpen should get some reps if Thomas can’t go.
The Dolphins could end up the season with two 1,000 yard receivers as Brian Hartline needs just 22 yards and Mike Wallace needs 95. It would be the second consecutive 1,000 yard season for Hartline and the third of Wallace’s career. Miami will have expected more for their money though and the fact they only have four touchdowns each is disappointing.
Their third receiver, Rishard Matthews, stepped into the possession receiver role nicely after Brandon Gibson was lost for the year and has 37 catches but no drops.
The Dolphins had been hoping that Dustin Keller would have a productive year for them at the tight end position, but Charles Clay has filled in nicely since Keller’s horrific knee injury in August. Clay has 65 catches, which matches Keller’s career best, and six touchdowns, which is better than Keller has ever managed in a season. He’s currently just 99 yards behind Keller’s best ever yardage total too and did have a 100-yard game this year, albeit back in week two against the Colts.
Marlon Moore, Dion Sims and Michael Egnew should all get snaps in a backup role.
Olivier Vernon leads the Dolphins with 11.5 sacks, but that’s largely a product of playing opposite Cameron Wake. Wake’s sack numbers might be down (“only” 8.5) but he’s 5th in the entire NFL with 18 quarterback hits and averages four pressures a game to Vernon’s three. Austin Howard will be matched up with Wake, while D’Brickashaw Ferguson blocks Vernon who was credited with two sacks three weeks ago.
They are strong on the inside too, with a solid three man rotation. Former first rounder Jared Odrick backs up veterans Randy Starks and Paul Soliai but has struggled over the last few weeks.
Rookie Dion Jordan has two sacks on the year and has shown flashes, but has been disappointing on the whole. Derrick Shelby will also get reps as a backup defensive end.
Despite the strength of their defensive line, the Dolphins have the 8th-worst run defense in the NFL statistically. One major reason for that is missed tackles by their linebackers. Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe, who typically play every snap, have combined to miss 31 between them. However, over the last four games, Wheeler has only missed one. Ellerbe has been grading out as one of the worst linebackers in the league over the second half of the year.
Koa Misi is not an every down player but is consistent and versatile.
With Dimitri Patterson now on injured reserve, Nolan Carroll is back in the starting lineup opposite Brent Grimes. Grimes is the undoubted number one, but Carroll is no slouch. He intercepted a pass last week, but did also give up a 57-yard catch.
At strong safety, Reshad Jones was struggling, but has played well over the last month. The deep safety is Chris Clemons who has played well this season but did miss three tackles last week.
In nickel packages, Jimmy Wilson comes in to play the slot.
The Dolphins have an excellent punter in Brandon Fields, although he’s dropped back behind Raiders rookie Marquette King in terms of gross average. Placekicker Caleb Sturgis is tied for the league lead with eight missed field goals, although four were from beyond 50 yards.
In coverage, backup linebacker Jonathan Freeny has overtaken backup safety Don Jones in terms of special teams tackles. Thigpen is a dangerous return man who fields kickoffs and punts and Jets fans will remember that Jason Trusnik is a solid special teamer. Their long-snapper, John Denney, is a multiple time Pro Bowler too.
Remember, this week’s BGA is a LIVE BGA, so I’ll be breaking down the game as it happens instead of on Monday.
Stats from PFF were used in the completion of this article.