Dicing the Division: Breaking Down Miami’s Matchup with the New York Jets
Why do I think this will be one of the most entertaining years of the Dolphins VS. Jets rivalry? Well, the team who the Miami Dolphins have the most contentious relationship with historically happens to also be the most improved team personnel wise in the AFC East. By adding Brandon Marshall, Antonio Cromartie, Darelle Revis, and Leonard Williams, the Jets have put together a formidable team. Outside of the quarterback position, it would be easy to look at their roster and declare them a 10-win team. When breaking down the positional matchups it becomes clear that this year’s series between the Dolphins and Jets will be one of the most engaging and competitive in recent memory. What do you get when two of the best defensive lines are assembled on one Sunday? Hard hitting throwback style football. Rejoice.
Miami’s Pass Catchers VS. New York’s CBs:
DeVante Parker VS. Antonio Cromartie-
This is going to be the swing matchup for the Dolphins’ passing game. Due to DeVante Parker’s size differential with Revis, Todd Bowels (I will spell it that way on occasion just for fun) could move Cromartie over to cover the Dolphins’ new first round draft pick. If he does choose to do this, Miami fans will see one of the most physical matchups of the year, between a big-bodied corner and an even bigger bodied receiver. Yeah, it’ll be chippy. It’ll be a throwback performance. While Roger Goodell might not like to see it, everyone loves a physical matchup between a receiver and cornerback in a tightly contested divisional game.
If Bowles leaves Revis on Parker, this could create other opportunities for the young pass catcher. Parker will be able to beat Revis on occasion using his size and physical advantage over Revis. Tannehill should have his eyes peeled for this in the red zone, and could actually try to throw at Revis to win on a box-out route. It may seem optimistic or preemptive to declare that Tannehill should be targeting Revis like this, but purely based on the size of the two players it could be worth a shot for Miami to roll the dice and actually attack New York where they have a perceived strength.
Jarvis Landry VS. Darelle Revis-
As Will Ferrell once elegantly stated in the classic buddy cop masterpiece, The Other Guys…. “BIG BOY PANTS”.
This will be the hardest matchup for Landry all season. Nobody is better than Revis at covering receivers with shifty route running ability. The dude is a technician. Due to Revis’ ability to lockdown receivers in the short game, this is one of the few games a year that Landry could become a bigger threat deep than he is in the flat. Landry is much quicker than Revis at this stage in his career, so it could make sense for Bill Lazor to include some deep plays to throw off the Jets’ aging corner. He will have to get creative if Landry is going to avoid being smothered by New York’s metaphorical pillow that is Darelle Revis.
New York might have improved their defensive line with Leonard Williams, and their secondary with Revis and Cromartie, but the team has done very little to help their linebacking corps. That being said, Lamar Miller should have plenty of receiving plays in the game plan when the two teams clash. His speed and shiftiness will create big-time matchup issues for the Jets’ linebackers. Exploiting this will be just as important as getting Kenny Stills involved in the deep game. If the safeties have to decide between coming up to stop Miller out of the backfield and providing solid support against Stills deep, it will be easy for the Dolphins’ to create chaos for the Jets’ defense.
Dolphins’ Secondary VS. Jets Pass Catchers
For 99.9% of guys who are 5’9, covering the 6’4 230lb behemoth known as Brandon Marshall would pose a serious problem. Fortunately Brent Grimes is not within that 99.9% of men who are 5’9.
This should be an exciting matchup, and one of the key determinants in the team’s games against New York. There will be ups and downs, but usually Grimes makes plays in big moments. That being said, the most important part of Grimes’ assignment will be stopping Marshall on the goal line and in 3rd down situations. It wont be easy, but Brent Grimes has given Dolphins’ fans no reason to doubt his ability to get the job done under pressure.
Jamar Taylor VS. Eric Decker-
Remember that aforementioned list with columns denoting wins and losses? Of course you do, it was like 2 paragraphs ago. New York gets to slide this into their wins column. Unless Jamar Taylor comes out a vastly improved player in 2015, New York will spend plenty of time matching him up with Decker. Kevin Coyle will assign Grimes to shadow Brandon Marshall, so it will be on Jamar Taylor alone to stop Decker from wreaking havoc in the secondary.
In the season finale last year, Decker absolutely rolled through Miami’s defensive backs on his way to a season high performance in receiving yards. The presence of a go-to receiver on this day allowed Geno Smith to have the perfect passer rating that he did. If Miami cant find a way to lock down Decker, these will be two very long games for the Dolphins. Taylor’s task of covering Eric Decker will be particularly crucial, and represents the type of matchup that can swing the outcome a game.
Dolphins’ Defensive Line VS. New York’s Offensive Line-
10 POINTS FOR GRYFYNDOR. Field day for Miami.
Olivier Vernon VS. D’Brickashaw Ferguson-
Finally I get to type out D’Brickashaw. I have been waiting for this for a very long time, so allow me to bask in it for a second.
Now we can talk about the hurt that Olivier Vernon is going to put on Mr. D’Brickashaw. With Geno Smith’s struggles under pressure, Vernon’s consistent ability to generate rush against D’Brickashaw will be a huge asset for the Dolphins’ defense. D’Brickashaw will also struggle to stop Vernon on running plays, which will help him stop one of the Jets’ 4,072 running backs they signed this offseason. Seriously, which veteran back isn’t playing for the Jets next season? And one more thing- D’Brickashaw, D’Brickashaw, D’Brickashaw, D’Brickashaw. Okay, now I’m done.
If Suh was going up against the Nick Mangold of 2009, I would say this is the best center versus D-tackle matchup in the league. But this isn’t 2009 Nick Mangold. It isn’t even 2011 Nick Mangold. Fast forward to 2015, and Mangold is a shell of his former self. He is still an effective player, but he is not the immovable wall he once was. Yes, the wall is ready to come down, and Ndamukong Suh is holding the sledgehammer. Well, actually he is the sledgehammer.
Cameron Wake VS. Breno Giacomini-
Breno Giacomini will be fine against average players. He is a stopgap option at right tackle, who can usually manage to avoid getting completely emasculated, but will struggle against above average pass rushers. Here is New York’s problem: Cam Wake is an above average pass rusher.
If you made a two-column list of wins and losses in terms of matchups in this game, this should be at the top of the wins list. Wake should have a field day, and generate plenty of pressure on Geno Smith. Giacomini will be in Cam Wake’s kitchen making him real Italian spaghetti and meatballs by the end of the season series. I do not know that he is Italian, but based on the name Breno Giacomini it is as safe a bet as death, taxes, and Jets fans knowing nothing about football. Simple science.
Dolphins’ Offensive Line VS. Jets’ Defensive Line
When New York drafted Leonard Williams with the 6th overall pick, the Jets’ rotation on the defensive line became very difficult to evaluate. It is still unknown where Williams will play on the line, but it is expected that he will hold a rotational role and play multiple positions. It is easier to evaluate this matchup as a whole than it is by each individual player, as New York will likely shuffle their players across the line due to their versatility and depth.
Branden Albert and Ja’Wuan James should be able to hold off the Jets’ edge rushers. That should not be the Dolphins’ biggest concern. If the interior offensive line plays like it did in 2014, the Jets’ elite lineman will decimate the team on running plays and with interior pass rush. This will be this biggest problem for Miami when they meet the Jets this season. If Bill Lazor can’t find a way to neutralize the Jets’ front four even somewhat, it will be a very difficult day for the Dolphins’ offense.
There are two ways to improve your football team: 1) through coaching, and 2) through personnel. Improving through coaching is usually the better of the two options, and that is the route that the Buffalo Bills went this offseason. The Jets decided to add personnel. There is no way to say that Todd Bowles will not be a high level NFL coach, but he is with the Jets so the odds are stacked against him. Because they’re the Jets.
New York did take steps in the right direction this offseason, which could take a stagnant rivalry and revive it through physical, hard-nosed play. The battles between DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry, and the Jets secondary will be entertaining this season, as will watching two of the best defensive lines in football. It is hard to say exactly which matchup will sway the odds for one team or the other when these teams face off. The most likely scenario for these games will be a low scoring affair, so it will be important to keep a close eye on the receiver/cornerback matchups for Miami and New York. But really it is still the Jets, so I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.