Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
In this upcoming game against the Miami Dolphins, the second key matchup to watch will be the battle for field position.
One of the most important aspects of any New York Jets/Miami Dolphins game is the battle for field position. As a general rule, our games are closer in scoring against them than probably any other team (three of the last four were within four points each), and anyone that's watched the games knows it's always a battle of field position. With a lot of punting to be had in this game, the matchup to watch is between the punters, and who can put the opposing offense in a bind.
Robert Malone has been a revelation this season, especially compared to how erratic T.J. Conley was last year. For a guy signed five days before the regular season began, and has never been much of anything in his short career, he's been extraordinarily impressive. If you've watched a game this season, you've seen his high, booming punts. Right now, Malone is averaging 47.1 yards per kick this season. Compare that to Pro Bowlers Andy Lee and Shane Lechler, who are averaging 47.5 and 48.2 yards, respectively. At the rate Malone is kicking, he's a legitimate threat for the Pro Bowl at his position. He also has eleven punts downed within the twenty, compared to Lee and Lechler who have fourteen and five, respectively.
Brandon Fields is a phenomenal punter, and one of the best in the league as well. He is currently leading the AFC with a 51 yards per kick average. In addition, he has nine punts downed within the twenty this season. Since he's been the punter for the Dolphins, the Jets have found themselves pinned deep numerous times to start drives, which makes it all the more difficult to put any meaningful points on the board, especially with a stout Miami defense.
For two run-first teams with good defenses, field position is one of the most critical battles to be won. A team simply cannot be expected to drive 80, 90 yards for a touchdown each time it touches the ball, so consistency is key here. Both teams have great punters, and both can expect to see them do extremely well this weekend. The question is, who will be more consistent? Who will screw up first?