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Previewing the Jets’ Opposition: Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins v Denver Broncos Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

In the original schedule, the Jets had been due to face the Dolphins in back-to-back games. However, in-season schedule changes have led to this second meeting coming about a month after the teams last met. Miami won that one 24-0 so the Jets will be looking to compete better this time against the 6-4 Dolphins. Let’s review any changes to the Miami roster since that time.

Quarterbacks

The major change since these teams last met was that rookie Tua Tagovailoa was moved into the starting lineup after the bye week. He won his first three starts, too, extending the Dolphins’ winning streak to five. However, he came down to earth a bit last week in the loss to Denver and has been downgraded to doubtful with a thumb injury.

Tagovailoa had averaged under 150 passing yards per start, but threw six touchdown passes with no interceptions.

Ryan Fitzgerald has a 3-3 record as a starter, completing a career-high 70 percent of his passes. He accounted for 12 touchdowns, including three against the Jets, but also threw eight interceptions. He’ll now step back into the starting lineup with undrafted rookie Reid Sinnett having been activated from the practice squad to deputize.

Offensive Line

The Dolphins will be forced into some changes this week, because rookie right guard Solomon Kindley has been dealing with a foot injury. They also had starting left tackle Jesse Davis on the Covid-19 list, but he was activated on Thursday.

Austin Jackson, who was on injured reserve when the Dolphins played the Jets last month, was listed as the left tackle while Davis was out, with fellow rookie Robert Hunt, who filled in for Jackson in that previous Jets game, listed as the starter on the right.

Two veterans acquired in the offseason have started every game with Ted Karras at center and Ereck Flowers at left guard. Karras has been the team’s most consistent run blocker and Flowers has held up well in pass protection.

Kindley has been ruled out, so the Dolphins could turn to Michael Dieter, who started every game in 2019. Adam Pankey and Julie’n Davenport are also options off the bench. Alternatively, they might leave Jackson and Hunt at tackle and move the versatile Davis back inside where he’s played in the past.

Running Backs

The Dolphins have made a lot of changes at the running back position and it’s not clear who will start this week. Undrafted rookie Salvon Ahmed had started the last two games, rushing for 85 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Chargers but then getting hurt against the Broncos. He’s been ruled out. However, leading rusher Myles Gaskin - who is also second on the team with 30 pass receptions - is now back in practice after a stint on injured reserve and could be activated.

Matt Breida and Patrick Laird have been used in a reserve role and DeAndre Washington was recently added via trade. Receivers Lynn Bowden and Malcolm Perry can also contribute to the running game and Chandler Cox remains on the roster as a fullback.

Pass catchers

DeVante Parker is Miami’s top receiving option with 44 catches, 523 yards and four touchdowns. This is disappointing production after he racked up over 1,200 yards last season, including over 500 yards in the last five games alone.

Since the last meeting, Preston Williams has gone onto injured reserve, which has meant that Jakeem Grant and Mack Hollins are required to contribute more, especially with Isaiah Ford also having been traded away. Grant is a diminutive slot receiver while Hollins provides good size at 6’4”.

Antonio Callaway is a reclamation project for the team and he made his debut last week after missing the first half of the year due to suspension. He’ll shore up the depth on a bench that also features Perry and Bowden.

At tight end, Mike Gesicki is the most productive receiver with 28 catches, but the Dolphins are currently listing Durham Smythe as the starter.

Adam Shaheen is the number three. He and Smythe each caught a touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick in the previous meeting between these teams.

Defensive Line

The Dolphins’ defensive line got a boost this week when former first round pick Christian Wilkins returned from the Covid-19 reserve list to fortify a unit that was already without the injured Davon Godchaux.

Zach Sieler, Raekwon Davis and Jason Strowbridge have been holding things down on the defensive line, although Davis has been limited in practice during the week. Benito Jones was elevated from the practice squad to provide additional depth.

Emmanuael Ogbah gets plenty of reps off the edge and has been Miami’s best pass rusher all year with eight sacks.

Linebackers

The linebacker position has been one where there haven’t been any changes over the last month, although starter Kyle Van Noy did miss some practice time this week.

Shaq Lawson starts on the outside with Van Noy while Elandon Roberts and Jerome Baker start on the inside.

Lawson, who scored a touchdown against Arizona, leads the team with 15 quarterback hits, Baker leads them with 71 tackles and Roberts leads them with seven tackles for loss. Roberts has had a really bad season in coverage though.

Andrew Van Ginkel is listed as a second-stringer but he has made some impact plays, including a 78-yard fumble return for a touchdown and three forced fumbles, which has seen him start four of the past five games.

Kamu Grugier-Hill is usually employed as a coverage linebacker off the bench, while Sam Eguavoen and Calvin Munson still aren’t being used much on defense.

Defensive Backs

The Dolphins are healthier at cornerback than they were when the teams last met and Xavien Howard is tied for the league lead with six interceptions. His fellow starter, Byron Jones, has been a bit of a disappointment though.

Jamal Perry and Nik Needham both get work in the slot, but rookie Noah Igbinoghene has seen his playing time dry up with just nine defensive snaps since the previous Jets game. Needham leads the team with five defensive penalties.

Eric Rowe and Bobby McCain are still starting at safety with Brandon Jones seeing time as the third safety despite being listed as a third stringer.

Kavon Frazier and Clayton Fejedelem are listed as second stringers but mostly play on special teams.

Special Teams

Jason Sanders still has an excellent shot at being the AFC’s pro bowl representative at kicker because he didn’t miss his first kick of the season until two weeks ago against the Chargers. That’s still his only miss in 45 attempts.

Punter Matt Haack has improved his net average by two yards since last season, allowing just 56 punt return yards all season.

Jakeem Grant is the team’s return specialist and currently leads the league in punt return average following an 88-yard touchdown return against the Rams. His numbers as a kick returner have been less impressive though.

Grant is questionable with a hamstring injury suffered during the week and if he can’t play, Igbinoghene is listed as the backup kick returner and Malcolm Perry is the backup punt returner.

In kick coverage, Grugier-Hill currently leads the team in special teams tackles and Hollins is the team’s best gunner. Frazier, Breida, Fejedelem and Van Ginkel are also good contributors, with Van Ginkel also having contributed a key blocked punt.