The Miami Dolphins should feel confident this week as they travel to the Big Apple to face their hated rival, the New York Jets. Let’s get to know the Jets a little better before the Week 3 matchup.
The Jets offense is stuck on the runway
The Jets offense has yet to take off this season, ranking in the lower half of the league in every major statistical category. Part of this can be attributed to lack of chemistry, with only three starters returning from last years squad. The real issue, however, is lack of talent. According to Pro Football Focus, no Jets offensive player is ranked above average, with nearly all of their skill players receiving poor grades.
Quality quarterback play is more vital in today’s NFL than ever. If you look across the board, teams with sustained success over the past decade have been led by strong play from under center. Jets starter, and perennial stop-gap quarterback Josh McCown, does not instill fear in opposing defenses, to say the least.
McCown has been efficient, completing 66.7% of his passes, but most of his completions have been check downs or underneath routes. His inability to stretch the field has led to a mere 5.6 yards per completion, and limited offensive coordinator John Morton’s creativity. One of McCown’s strengths throughout his 15-year career is his surprising athleticism. Look for Jets offensive coordinator John Morton to use rollouts and designed quarterback runs take advantage of McCown’s mobility.
A time tested solution to poor quarterback play is a strong running game. Unfortunately for the Jets, their running game has been less than stellar thus far.
Coming into the season the offense expected to lean on the 1-2 punch of veteran running backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell to stabilize the offense. Thus far that plan has not come to fruition. A former Pro Bowler and 10-year vet, Forte looks like he is on his last legs. Although he averages 4.6 yards per carry, he lacks the explosiveness that made him one of the top backs in the league during his time in Chicago.
Foreseeing this decline, many experts expected Bilal Powell to become more of a focal point in the offense this season. After career highs in rushing yards, 722, and yards per carry, 5.5, the load was his for the taking. Instead, Powell has regressed, averaging only 2.7 yards per carry and 3.4 yards per catch. After a solid outing against stud Bolts back Melvin Gordon, look for the ‘Fins defense to continue the trend this week.
The Jets wideouts are nothing to write home about. After projected starter Quincy Enunwa was lost for the season due to a neck injury, the team went searching for answers. In a trade that confirmed the Jets were tanking, or committing to the “Scam for Sam”, they acquired Jermaine Kearse and a second round pick for arguably their best player, Sheldon Richardson. A typical third option, Kearse has stepped up and become McCown’s top target, hauling in 11 catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
Jeremy Kerley, signed after he was cut by the 49ers late in the preseason, and unproven youngster Robby Anderson round out the wide receiver corp. Constant headache Austin Seferian-Jenkins and former Giants backup Will Tye start at tight end.
The offensive line has been a bright spot on the Jets to start the season. Pro Football Focus ranks them 11th in pass blocking efficiency, after allowing only two sacks and 14 hurries through two games. The left side is the strength, with guard James Carpenter (75.3) and tackle Kelvin Beachum (69.4) both graded decently by Pro Football Focus. Look for Ndamukong Suh to line up over center Wesley Johnson or right guard Dakota Dozier, while Cameron Wake lines up over right tackle Brandon Shell, who was abused by Khalil Mack last week.
Jets defense forcing minor turbulence
Not too long ago, the Jets featured one of the most vaunted defenses in the NFL. Much like the Rex Ryan-Mark Sanchez bromance, those days are long in the past.
After witnessing the Jets give up 45 points to the Raiders last week, the Dolphins offense must be licking its chops. Look for Jay Ajayi to continue his strong start while Smokin’ Jay and the receiving corp use this week to further their growing chemistry.
Through two weeks the Jets rank 30th in yards given up, and dead last in defending the run. It all starts up front with the entirety of the starting front seven being ranked average to below average by Pro Football Focus.
Ends Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams have played better than their peers, but the teams horrid linebacker play makes it difficult for them to stand out. Look for the Dolphins to pound the rock inside against an interior of nose tackle Steve McLendon, and middle linebackers Darron Dee and Demario Davis that have so far struggled to put up much resistance.
Second year left outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins has shown promise this season, but is far from polished. Fifth year right outside linebacker Josh Martin rounds out the linebacking corp.
While the Jets rank 15th in pass yards allowed per game, they rank 25th in yards per completion, 28th in completion% and 30th in quarterback rating. This is directly correlated to game script, as teams have had such success against the run they haven’t needed to rely on the passing game. Look for the Dolphins to repeat this formula.
Cornerbacks Justin Burris and Morris Claiborne will line up opposite of Devante Parker and Kenny Still much of the night. Nickel cornerback Buster Skrine draws the unenviable task of trying to cover Jarvis Landry.
While the Jets pass coverage has left something to be desired, the team’s two rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Made are emerging as foundational pieces of this defense going forward. Look for the Dolphins to lean on the run early and often before using play action to take shots down the field to Stills and Parker.
Jets special teams is in flight
While unspectacular, the Jets special teams play has been the most consistent facet of the game for the team this season.
Kicker Chandler Catanzaro is a perfect 4-4 on field goals this season, including knocking in a 52 harder. Punter Lachlan Edwards averages a respectable 46.2 yards per punt, with the 4 punts downed inside the 20 and no touchbacks.
Kalif Raymond adds a much needed spark in the return game, averaging 28.3 yards per kick return and 7.6 per punt return.