The Jets improved their record to 5-8 today by beating the Miami Dolphins in MetLife Stadium. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but New York pulled out a game with a last second field goal. Unfortunately the results of the late afternoon slate of games did not go the Jets’ way. Victories by Tennessee and Pittsburgh officially eliminated the Jets from Playoff contention, although a postseason run was a longshot anyway.
Let’s discuss what happened in the Miami game.
Sam Ficken: This is as good of a place as any to start. Ficken shook off an early missed extra point by nailing a 44 yard field goal as time expired, making him the hero of the day.
Robby Anderson: Anderson had the best day of any Jets offensive player. He posted 7 catches for 116 yards a touchdown. Several plays required him to display strong hands while making a contested grab.
Vyncint Smith: He only had one catch, but it was a huge 37 yarder that got the game-winning field goal drive moving. That play was mainly made by Smith’s run after the grab.
Offensive Line: This oft-criticized unit played a strong game. Sam Darnold had solid protection, and the Jets ran the ball as effectively as they have all year long, an admittedly low bar to clear.
Gregg Williams: Williams’ gameplan was pretty clear. Lacking quality defensive players, his scheme today was bend but don’t break to an extreme. The Jets were content to allow moderate gains as long as they avoided the big play. The goal was then to play tight defense in the red zone. The results speak for themselves. Miami punted once with 8 field goal attempts, and no touchdowns.
James Burgess: Burgess was all over the field making 13 tackles. He was flagged twice on plays that extended Miami drives, but both of those penalties appeared to be shaky. One wiped out an interception.
Nate Hairston: Hairston was seen for the first time since his benching against the Giants. Brian Poole’s concussion moved Hairston to the slot, and he responded with a strong game. He recorded an interception and was around the ball on blitzes and run plays to the middle.
Jordan Jenkins: Jenkins had a pair of hustle sacks and was credited with 3 hits on Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Quinnen Williams: In spite of an early facemask penalty, I thought Williams was disruptive inside.
Steve McLendon: McLendon was a frequent visitor to the Miami backfield.
Sam Darnold: I know listing Darnold as bad will be somewhat controversial considering the Jets won the game. To be clear, this wasn’t a terrible game from start to finish. I thought Darnold played a very good first half.
The second half, however, was about as ugly as I’ve seen from Darnold this season. Usually when he has played poorly, it has been accompanied with a disintegration of the offensive line. That wasn’t the case in this game. He was missing reads, throwing wildly to open receivers, and throwing late. This led to an interception. He was lucky it didn’t lead to two more. Darnold left touchdowns on the field in the second half. He also took an unnecessary hit by not throwing the ball away soon enough, which ended in his hand getting stepped on. On the final drive, he took what should have been a game-ending sack and was bailed out by a pass interference penalty (one Jets fans will likely say was obvious and Dolphins fans will say was terrible).
I don’t think there are many teams you can beat in the NFL with your quarterback playing like that for a full half. The Jets just happened to be playing one of them today.
Adam Gase: I don’t think this game ever should have been in this degree of danger, and I think some of that has to go on the head coach. I don’t want to spend all day dwelling on all of the flaws with Gase’s performance. There were the second and long runs. There was the inability or unwillingness to find a way to make the game easier for Darnold. How about playing for a 44 yard field goal with a shaky kicker instead of continuing to attack on the final drive? This was not good.
Bless Austin: I thought this was his first rough game. He was beaten a couple of times, including on Miami’s go ahead drive in the fourth quarter. He also drew a big flag.
Kyron Brown: Sending him our best since he left the game with an injury. Before then, he didn’t show much feel for coverage, though. The Dolphins were picking on him and having great success. Even with the Jets playing to prevent the big play, he was probably playing too conservatively.
Demaryius Thomas: A pair of drive-extending passes hit his hands in the early going and dropped to the turf. Even though he did have a touchdown later, he put the score in danger by having the ball ripped from his hands.
Officials: I am sure Miami fans will complain about the pass interference call on the final drive, but the Jets had at least three worse calls made against them, the two on Burgess and a ridiculous roughing the passer call on Nathan Shepherd.
The Jets don’t have much time to enjoy their win. A short week and a trip to Baltimore for a Thursday night game against the Ravens awaits.