Having missed all of last season due to a preseason knee injury, Ryan Tannehill is back and authored a scrappy win over the Titans in the opener. He’s had mixed results against the Jets over the years, with four wins and five losses in his nine starts against them.
The Dolphins have three backup quarterbacks on their roster with a healthy mix of experienced retread, inexperienced journeyman and raw rookie in Brock Osweiler, David Fales and Luke Falk.
The Dolphins received a blow this week with the news that their most experienced lineman, Josh Sitton, was heading to injured reserve. His replacement, Ted Larsen, has plenty of experience himself (73 career starts) but hasn’t been a full-time starter over the past few years and struggled in the running game in his eight relief starts last year.
The line is bookended by two first round tackles, Ja’Wuan James and Laremy Tunsil. James is probably the team’s best run blocker at right tackle, but Tunsil has been inconsistent. He led the team in penalties and sacks surrendered last year and began the season with two penalties last week.
The other two starters are a former Jets cast-off, Jesse Davis, and an offseason addition in center Daniel Kilgore. Another ex-Jet, Travis Swanson, is on the bench along with the 6’8” Sam Young who tied a career-high with six starts last season.
Veteran Frank Gore is going to overtake Jets legend Curtis Martin for fourth place in the all-time rushing list on Sunday. That’s unless the Jets can hold him to fewer than 15 rushing yards.
Kenyan Drake actually got a bigger workload last week, although Gore proved to be more effective and ended up with the bigger yardage total. Drake was Miami’s leading rusher last year, having taken over as the starter following Jay Ajayi’s departure. Drake also caught 32 passes.
The backups are Senorise Perry, Brandon Bolden and rookie Kalen Ballage, but none of them saw action last week.
Davante Parker is listed as questionable but did practice the last two days, so he does seem likely to play, having missed the opener. With Jarvis Landry gone, the Dolphins will be hoping that Parker emerges as a legitimate number one receiver, having caught 57 passes last year.
Veteran Kenny Stills only had one more catch than Parker in 2017, but he was more of a big play threat with six touchdowns and almost 850 receiving yards. In week one, he caught four passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns, including a 75-yarder.
Jakeem Grant, a diminutive speedster, led the Dolphins with five catches in the opener, while their other slot option - veteran Danny Amendola - was shut out in his first game with Miami.
Albert Wilson and Tanner McEvoy round out this group. Wilson caught three passes last week. McEvoy’s first career reception was a long touchdown against the Jets two years ago.
At tight end, AJ Derby is listed as the starter after MarQueis Gray’s preseason injury. Derby is a decent blocker. By contrast, rookie Mike Gesicki is raw as a blocker but an athletic pass-catching threat who caught one pass in his debut last week. Another rookie - Durham Smythe - is the number three.
The Dolphins had another big name departure on their defensive line when Ndamukong Suh joined the Rams in the offseason. However, Cameron Wake is still plugging away at defensive end, having recorded another double digit season last year.
Veteran Robert Quinn was an offseason addition that gives the Dolphins a good pass rushing threat off each edge. He had three seasons with double digit sacks himself and, although the most recent of these was 2014, he bounced back from a couple of disappointing seasons with 8.5 sacks in 14 starts in 2017.
Off the bench, William Hayes and Andre Branch are two solid reserves and last year’s first rounder Charles Harris could be groomed to be Wake’s heir apparent. Hayes had a finger injury in practice during the week so he’s been listed as questionable.
Without Suh, the Dolphins will rotate Jordan Phillips, Davon Godchaux and Akeem Spence on the defensive interior. The Dolphins traded a late round pick for the veteran Spence back in May. Godchaux had 11 penalties last year.
Vincent Taylor, who was a sixth round pick last year, will provide further depth off the bench. He’s shown some promise against the run.
Kiko Alonso anchors the linebacker unit, but he’s yet to rediscover his pre-injury form with the Dolphins. He was a bit of a liability in coverage last year at times.
There are two new starters alongside Alonso. Jerome Baker is an athletic rookie from Ohio State, while Raekwon McMillan is basically also a rookie, having barely played as a second rounder last season.
Reserves Chase Allen and Stephone Anthony reprise their roles from last year, where each performed reasonably well.
Xavien Howard is one of the league’s most physical cornerbacks. He led Miami in interceptions last year, but also got beaten for four touchdowns and was tied for the team lead in penalties. He played well in both games against the Jets last year, although he did give up a couple of penalties.
Bobby McCain holds onto the other starting cornerback role. He did a pretty solid job last year. The back-ups include Torry McTyer and Cordrea Tankersley.
The safety position is a strength for the Dolphins with pro bowler Reshad Jones and a solid free safety in TJ McDonald. Versatile rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick saw a lot of playing time last week, including as a nickel cornerback. Reserve Walt Aikens is similarly versatile.
The Dolphins kicking game features two youngsters. Rookie Jason Sanders made all of his kicks in his first NFL game, but also had a kick-off returned for a touchdown. Punter Matt Haack won the job as an undrafted rookie last year but had a poor game in the opener with two touchbacks and 44 return yards on two returns.
Pro bowl long snapper John Denney is listed as questionable but did practice so that shouldn’t be an issue.
Grant, who also ran a kick back for a score last week, is listed as the main return man, although Amendola was sent in to field a punt last week. Back in a 2016 game against the Jets, Grant missed several tackles on a long kickoff return that was negated by a penalty, tiring the coverage unit out sufficiently for Drake to return the re-kick for the game-winning score. Therefore, Drake is an option too.
In kick coverage, Perry, Allen and Aikens are among the more productive tacklers, but - as noted - they had their issues last week.