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Previewing the Jets’ opposition: Miami Dolphins

New York Giants v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Jets haven’t won in Miami since 2014 and face a Dolphins team that has won five straight and lies just a game behind the Bills for second place in the AFC East as they come off their bye week. After holding off the Joe Flacco-led Jets 24-17 last month, they now get the first crack at Zach Wilson.

Quarterbacks

Miami’s starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had injury issues earlier in the season but has settled back into the starting role over the last month. He’s posted a quarterback rating of over 100 in four straight games and thrown just one interception in that span.

Tagovailoa has been effective on run-pass options since his return but hasn’t been a threat to run the ball all season.

After three straight losses, backup Jacoby Brissett won his last two starts before Tagovailoa returned to the line-up.

Offensive Line

Advanced metrics suggest Miami’s offensive line might be the worst in the league, so Tagovailoa will continue to look to get rid of the ball quickly.

Personnel-wise, they’re at least starting to build some continuity. Opening day starter, Michael Deiter, is now back at center after coming off injured reserve. The rest of the group is unchanged since these teams last met. Liam Eichenberg is at left tackle with veteran Jesse Davis on the right. At guard there are two second-year players; Austin Jackson on the left and Robert Hunt on the right.

The rookie Eichenberg has struggled all year, as he’s given up nine sacks and nine penalties. However, he’s perhaps showing some signs of settling down. He hasn’t given up a sack in any of the last three games and has only given up one pressure in each of the last two.

Davis has also struggled, as he’s given up six sacks and - like Eichenberg - over 50 pressures. Jackson has also had issues with penalties, as he’s tied for the team lead with nine. He missed practice due to illness earlier in the week and is listed as questionable. However, he practiced full on Friday so presumably will start.

Deiter so far hasn’t given up a sack but this will only be his fifth start of the season. Hunt is probably the most consistent lineman of the group and he’s had three straight games without giving up a sack, quarterback hit or penalty.

On the bench, Robert Jones and Solomon Kindley haven’t played any snaps on offense since week two.

Running Backs

The Dolphins’ running back position was completely up in the air a few days ago, as they had to place all their active running backs onto Covid-19 reserve.

Since that time, however, they’ve activated Malcolm Brown from injured reserve and elevated Duke Johnson from the practice squad, then were able to re-activate starter Myles Gaskin and reserve Salvon Ahmed off the Covid-19 list on Friday anyway.

Gaskin leads the team with 526 rushing yards and has also caught 45 passes and accounted for seven total touchdowns. He had gone onto Covid-19 reserve with Ahmed and recent addition Phillip Lindsay, but he and Ahmed will now be available to play.

Brown hasn’t been added to the roster yet but he did start three games earlier in the year, although he only averaged 3.8 yards per carry. Johnson has played just one game for Miami so far; the previous Jets game.

Pass catchers

The big change for Miami since their last meeting with the Jets is that they got DeVante Parker back off injured reserve. He caught five passes for 62 yards in his return against the Giants two weeks ago.

Rookie Jaylen Waddle has assumed the mantle of the Dolphins’ top receiver. During the five game winning streak, he caught 38 passes for over 400 yards and now has a team-high 86 catches for 849 yards on the season. Unfortunately for Miami, he went onto Covid-19 reserve on Thursday.

Albert Wilson is a reliable number three option, but reserves Mack Hollins, Preston Williams and Isaiah Ford all have less than 15 catches. Hollins does have four touchdowns though, including the long one that proved so vital against the Jets.

Will Fuller is not ready to come off injured reserve yet and Allen Hurns was already lost for the season.

Mike Gesicki has had another productive season so far at tight end. He has 59 catches and over 600 yards. Miami still have four other tight ends on the roster, of whom the most productive is Durham Smythe. Adam Shaheen, Cethan Carter and rookie Hunter Long round out the rotation. Shaheen is questionable with a knee injury.

Defensive Line

In their most recent game, the Dolphins started off in a 3-4 alignment with Christian Wilkins, Raekwon Davis and Zach Sieler on the defensive line.

Adam Butler and John Jenkins also provide interior depth, while Emmanuel Ogbah is listed as a starter although he came off the bench in the last game. Ogbah will typically play as an edge defender with his hands in the dirt and he has six sacks and a team-high 19 quarterback hits.

The Dolphins are a top-ten unit against the run, anchored by this group. Wilkins has seven tackles for loss, which is tied for the team lead. He also has three sacks and nine quarterback hits. Davis is the only one who has really struggled against the run this season.

Linebackers

Jerome Baker, Elandon Roberts and Andrew Van Ginkel are still listed as the starters at linebacker, although Duke Riley also started the Giants game as the Dolphins were initially in a 3-4 alignment.

Baker remains the only one of this group who plays a full-time role, although Van Ginkel is on the field most of the time too. Baker leads the team with 66 tackles, but Van Ginkel has shown good all-round production with five pass breakups and 18 quarterback hits. Roberts made some impact plays earlier in the season but has struggled against the run.

Off the bench, Riley, Sam Eguovoen and first round rookie Jaelen Phillips get regular action. Phillips now leads the team with 8.5 sacks after racking up five in the past two games.

Brennan Scarlett was contributing too, but he recently went onto injured reserve. Vince Biegel is now active again but has barely played and undrafted rookie Darius Hodge is yet to play.

Defensive Backs

At cornerback, Xavien Howard leads the team with four interceptions and 14 passes defensed but also leads them with six penalties. He had 10 interceptions last season.

The other starter on the outside is Byron Jones and both Nik Needham and Justin Coleman get plenty of reps in the slot.

Noah Igbinoghene and Trill Williams are also on the bench but haven’t contributed much defensively.

At safety, Jevon Holland has had an excellent rookie season but he was just placed on the Covid-19 reserve list. Brandon Jones and Eric Rowe will start if Holland is unavailable on Sunday. Will Parks and Clayton Fejedelem are available as cover, although Fejedelem tweaked an ankle during the week and is listed as questionable.

Special Teams

All-pro kicker Jason Sanders is having a disappointing season. He’s missed a kick in each of the last three games and seven overall, including a couple of costly ones earlier in the year.

Punter Michael Palardy has also had an underwhelming season. He’s 28th in the league for gross punting average.

The return game has been poor too. Waddle is currently listed as both the punt and kickoff returner but Holland also returns punts sometimes. It’s unclear who would return punts if both Waddle and Holland are out but Igbinoghene backs Waddle up on kickoffs.

The special teams unit did create a touchdown in the recent win over Carolina when Riley blocked a punt and Coleman returned it for a touchdown.

Hollins in the primary punt gunner and Miami’s most productive player in coverage. Fejedelem, Carter, Jones and Eguavoen also contribute.

The Dolphins are favored by 9.5 points according to our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.