The New York Jets got steamrolled last week by a good Oakland Raiders team, 45-20. They will look to avoid a 0-3 start—and a 0-2 start in the AFC East—as they take on the Miami Dolphins.
Last year it was the Dolphins who dominated the season series, winning both of the matchups. Their first battle, in Week 9, was a close one the Dolphins won 27-23. The Jets had their opportunities to win but turnovers doomed them.
The week 9 matchup was a close one as the Dolphins won 27-23. The Jets had their opportunities to win, but two second-half Ryan Fitzpatrick interceptions doomed them. Miami delivered an epic beatdown on national television in Week 15, winning 34-13.
So what do the Jets have to do to avoid another lopsided defeat? Let’s take a look at some the key objectives the Jets must accomplish in order to pick up their first win of the season.
Stop Miami’s Running Game
Jay Ajayi broke out last year and has become one of the league’s best running backs. He became one of only four players to have back-to-back games with at least 200 rushing yards, joining Ricky Williams, Earl Campbell and O.J. Simpson.
Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase jokingly told Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald that “he might want to give Ajayi the ball between 22 and 25 times a game.”
Gase jokingly said this because he knows giving him the ball that many times would have him around 400 carries for the season. That is something that rarely happens. Only five times has an RB carried the ball more than 400 times, last accomplished by Larry Johnson in 2006 when he set a NFL-record with 416 carries for the Kansas City Chiefs.
But even if it’s not 22-25 carries this week for Ajayi, they still want to give him the ball as much as they can. In two games against the Jets last year, he carried the ball 43 times for 162 yards and a touchdown. Last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, Ajayi carried the ball 27 times for 122 yards.
The Jets defense has struggled to stop the run thus far this season. They allowed 190 rushing yards to Buffalo in Week 1 and 180 to the Raiders in Week 2. The Jets used to be a team that stopped the run, so far that is not the case.
While Ajayi is nursing a knee injury, was on the injury report for Week 2 and didn’t practice Thursday, sources tell Salguero that he’ll be good to go for the game.
DeVante Parker and Jay Ajayi noy practicing in period open to the media. They will be fine game day, per source.
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) September 21, 2017
Generate A Pass Rush
In the Week 2 keys to victory article, I mentioned that the Jets defensive line was challenged by head coach Todd Bowles.
According to Daniel Popper of the New York Daily News, Muhammad Wilkerson responded to Coach Bowles challenge saying “Our room, we take a lot of pressure. Coach [Bowles] even called us out. We take pride in ourselves and our work, and we definitely accepted the challenge and know we got to play better this week.”
How did they respond to the challenge? Well, they didn’t record one sack. They provided no pass rush and lost the battle in the trenches. So if they accepted the challenge they failed.
Let’s see if they can respond this week and give the Jets some production.
Win The Battle Against Miami’s Defensive Line
Offensively, the offensive line has to win the battle against a tough defensive line. Having to go up against Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake is no easy task.
Last week against the Raiders the offensive line allowed four sacks for a total loss of 21 yards. The last time the Jets faced the Dolphins they allowed three sacks for a loss of 22 yards.
Including this painful one.
I think it’s safe to say that Bryce Petty is still feeling that hit. He is probably the happiest man alive that he is the backup in this contest.
It’s not just in pass protection that the offensive line has to do a better job. They must open holes to get their running game going.
The Jets rushed for only 38 yards in Week 1 but bounced back with 126 yards on the ground in Week 2. So the O-Line did their job of opening holes allowing the backs to work.
Getting the running game going opens plays down the field like we saw with the 34-yard touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Jermaine Kearse.
The Jets are not very skilled offensively and taking deep shots like that could help them score or at least put them into scoring position. They have to be aggressive if they are going to have any chance of putting up points.
I also feel like the Jets have to start using Bilal Powell in the passing game more. He has shown to be very effective in the passing game, especially screen passes.
Powell has been silenced so far this year but this could be a way to get him going.
The Jets lead the Dolphins in the all-time head to head matchups with a 53-49-1 record. Hopefully, they can add another W on Sunday. I am going with my gut for this one, which is saying the Jets find a way to win! Final score Jets 23, Dolphins 20.