We're on a three-game skid and there's obviously some justified concern about the team and where we're headed. Look no further than our own Confidence Poll. The Miami Dolphins (0-4) are a very beatable team, despite them owning us in the head-to-head match up the last few years. There will be a ton of discussion about our likely game plan by people much more qualified than myself in the coming days, but I want to set everyone at ease with how things should pan out against the Dolphins.
Join me below the jump as I try and lay out how we favorably match up against this week's opponent.
Our team is pretty clearly frustrated with how things have gone the past few games. With C Nick Mangold back, and Rex Ryan re-declaring us a ground-and-pound team, now is the perfect time to go on the offensive. Although last year the Dolphin's defensive unit ranked #6 in the league, this year they are fifth worst in yards per game allowed. The secondary, under CB Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, has faltered. Their defense is allowing 107.5 yards per game rushing, and there is virtually no pass rush, with the Dolphins currently ranking 30th in the league in sacks. They have six as of their last game, just one ahead of both the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs.
If we are ever going to get back to the vaunted ground game of 2009, this is the game to do it. We did much better last game than ever before in the season, rushing for 97 yards, but now is when we can capitalize. Use RB Shonn Greene to pound the rock early, then use the play-action, QB Mark Sanchez's specialty, to fool their relatively inexperienced corners. But the whole time, we need to play aggressively. This isn't the game to sit back and slowly march down the field. The Jets need to make a statement to the league that they're back, or it's going to be a long season.
On defense, we need to have the same mentality. Our defense has performed well since the first game against the Dallas Cowboys, however they spent too long on the field this past week against the New England Patriots. Thankfully, Matt Moore is no Tom Brady. Oh, did I mention that the Dolphins are now quarterbacked by Matt Moore? You know, the guy that was benched in Carolina in favor of Jimmy Clauson, who has since been benched for Cam Newton? If you haven't heard, Chad Henne (aka the greatest quarterback since Dan Marino) is out for the season with a separated should ala Chad Pennington. We need to apply pressure, and do it quickly. We need pressure, sacks, and interceptions. This is a statement game. Thankfully, our defense is perfectly set to do just this.
The Dolphins currently rank 26th in the league in pass protection, and despite Jake Long being Jake Long, and Mike Pouncey being a relatively well-performing rookie, it has clearly shown. RT Marc Colombo has looked his age and is particularly susceptible to blitzes. Look for Aaron Maybin, Jamaal Westerman, and Calvin Pace to exploit this mismatch.
Our cornerbacks also match up particularly well with their receivers. We may remember WR Brandon Marshall gashing CB Antonio Cromartie last year, but with CB Darrelle Revis healthy, look for him to shut Marshall down. This leaves the rising Kyle Wilson to cover receiver Davone Bess, and for Cromartie to play clean up on whomever else the Dolphins put out there. All can certainly be contained. This leaves our defense able to bracket TE Anthony Fasano. Although the Dolphins have misused RB Reggie Bush by thrusting him between the tackles, I anticipate Rex Ryan keeping a spy on him when he's in the game to make sure he doesn't do much damage out in space.
In essence, this game is very winnable. It will not be easy; playing the Dolphins never is. They are still very dangerous despite being 0-4. But more than ever before, we absolutely have the tools to beat them, and hopefully the attitude that is necessary as well. Barring any significant setback, there is absolutely no reason we can't ground-and-pound the Dolphins into the dirt and be set to take on the very mortal San Diego Chargers the next week. Tell us what you think in the comments below.