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Jets vs. Dolphins Week 3 Preview & Things to Know

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What to keep in mind as the Jets host the Dolphins in their home opener

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New York Jets Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

With an 0-2 start to the year, any false hope there might have been for the Jets to have a decent season has all but evaporated. We’re approaching the point where each loss brings the Jets closer to that inevitable quarterback change, in addition to the possible heating of seats under the team leadership. With the Dolphins heading to MetLife, here are some things to know going into the game.

Dolphins Offseason Changes and Notes

The major change for Miami was the signing of previously retired quarterback Jay Cutler to replace the injured Ryan Tannehill. Their most important additions otherwise were OLB Lawrence Timmons (who is currently suspended by the team for being M.I.A) and S Nate Allen.

They also lost a few starters, including TE Dion Sims, DE Mario Williams, LB Jelani Jenkins, and S Isa Abdul-Quddus.

Injuries

For the Jets, Brian Winters and Eric Tomlinson will both miss the game. That leaves Dakota Dozier and Will Tye as the likely candidates to replace them, respectively. Bowles mentioned Brent Qvale is also a candidate to start at right guard. Jordan Leggett and Rontez Miles are doubtful while Muhammd Wilkerson and Tye are questionable.

For Miami, as mentioned before, Lawrence Timmons is suspended by the team. LB Ray Maualuga is out, while DT Jordan Phillips is doubtful. Key skill players Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry, and DeVante Parker were nicked up a bit during the week and are listed as questionable but all three are likely to play.

Key Numbers

2003 - The last year the Jets started 0-3. Teams that start 0-3 make the playoffs 2% of the time. If you want to go more in-depth, simply subtract 2 from that percentage to get the Jets’ approximate postseason chances.

97.1 - Jay Cutler’s career quarterback rating against the Jets. He’s 3-0 against them with 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Jets Offensive Plan

The Dolphins seem to favor playing a lot of off coverage, rarely pressing the line. This could play into the hands of the Jets’ conservative West Coast scheme. There could be a lot more room to work the underneath game than usual if the Dolphins don’t adjust. With the team saying they plan to use all three running backs more often, Elijah McGuire and Bilal Powell could both get some opportunities to catch the ball.

As mentioned the Dolphins like to play off and they are pretty strong at safety, so they could take away the deep pass effectively. According to Pro Football Reference, the Dolphins only allowed 25 completions of 25 yards or more on “deep” targets last season, sixth fewest in the league. They only allowed 1 in their game against the Chargers. This means the run game will probably be more important for the Jets to establish. They seemed to be getting it going last week, but couldn’t stick with it as the defense let the game get out of hand. Dakota Dozier seemed to play well in relief of Brian Winters, but can he and the interior line carve holes against the Dolphins’ front? Unlike the Jets, their production lives up to the hype.

Jets Defensive Plan

The Jets front seven needs to start showing up. The safety duo of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye has been excellent, while Kony Ealy and Josh Martin have actually done a good job on the edge. It’s time for Muhammad Wilkerson to start showing up to take pressure off of Leonard Williams, and also time for Demario Davis and Darron Lee to play some NFL linebacker. The Dolphins are known to be weak at left guard, and obviously rely a lot on talented RB Jay Ajayi. Like last week, the Jets are not going to get away with bad discipline and positioning against this group of skill position talent. Ajayi and Jarvis Landry, who gets a ton of short touches, will both eat the defense up if they

A. can’t create interior pressure and

B. the linebackers wander in no man’s land all day.

This will be a bad defense until they figure out how to play smart at the point of attack.

Jets X-Factors

Offense: Interior Offensive Line (James Carpenter, Wesley Johnson, Dakota Dozier/Brent Qvale)

The Dolphins defensive line is strong. Not just in name, but production, unlike a certain AFC East D-Line. If these three can neutralize Ndamukong Suh and the rest of this group, there’s been signs of a potentially strong run game here. It will be the key to victory if the Jets are going to continue to pass the ball so conservatively, especially against a defense that can limit the big play.

Defense: Darron Lee/Demario Davis

These two will continue to be the biggest X-Factors on defense until they figure out how to do their jobs. If you watch plays unfold against the Jets defense, it’s mind-boggling how consistently these two mess up and make every other defender’s job so much harder. It’s easy to blame Williams and Wilkerson for their lack of production, but they can’t really do much when there’s a nice big lane of green grass for the running back to stroll down while the linebackers are on their back.

Look at this image right here, on a play highlighted earlier by John B. Jamal Adams perfectly sets the edge, attracting two blockers. Kony Ealy takes on two blockers as well. Muhammad Wilkerson runs free into the backfield. Darron Lee has nothing but grass and a white line of paint in between him and the ball. Even if he doesn’t make this tackle, all he has to do is at least fill that gap and prevent this from being too big of a play.

Instead, he goes in the completely wrong direction. Demario Davis is being devoured downfield. Daylight.