New York State of Mind: 5 Keys to Victory for Dolphins VS. Jets

The Miami Dolphins will play their second game against the New York Jets of 2015 on Sunday. They are facing a team that manhandled them during their meeting in London earlier this season, dominating up front on both sides of the ball. If Miami wants to have a chance at their first divisional win of the year, they will have to play a physical, and emotional game against their bitter rivals.

Yes folks, it’s Jets week. Now let’s see what it will take for Miami to notch a win over New York, and secure their first victory within the AFC East.

5) Hope That Darelle Revis Is Out: 


This one seems simple, but really it would be an enormous boost for Miami. If Darelle Revis doesn’t play, Antionio Cromartie becomes the number one corner in New York, which also causes a backup to come in and play opposite Cromartie. Miami could take advantage of this matchup by feeding the ball to Rishard Matthews, who has worked in the past this year.

Revis’ absence would also put more pressure on the safeties and linebackers. This season, we have seen that the Jets struggle with safety play and coverage by the linebackers, so increasing their workload would be a huge positive for the Dolphins.

Revis suffered a concussion during last week’s game, and his status for Sunday is up in the air. He has been one of the league’s top corners since the Jets drafted him out of Pitt, and is the centerpiece of the defense in New York. Revis’ unavailability on Sunday would be a massive blow to the Jets’ hopes of victory, and a massive boost for the Dolphins.

4) Consistently Run the Ball:


Miami cannot afford to abandon the run in this game. Seriously, it’s become the biggest problem that the team has faced this season.

It seems easy to understand throwing the ball when we are down by multiple scores in the second half. Obviously the team needs points and cannot afford to lose the time off of the clock associated with a strong rushing attack. Despite this, the offense cannot become one dimensional against the Jets’ defense.

The only way to slow down New York’s vicious defensive line is to cause them to question themselves on early downs. In the teams’ last meeting, the Jets’ defense seemed to be able to predict Miami’s calls before they happened. Well, that’s probably because it was a pass every single time.

The Dolphins now have two solid ball carriers in Lamar Miller and Jay Ajayi. The team will surely need both of them if they want to find success against the Jets.

Oh, and Bill Lazor will need to exercise some semblance of balance and try to create confusion for the Jets’ defense instead of handing the ball off twice in the first quarter only to throw it every play.

3) Spread the Wealth on Offense:


(Getty Images)

The Miami Dolphins received an unexpected gift in Rishard Matthews this season. The fourth year player out of Nevada has displayed tremendous talent, and has given the Dolphins’ passing game a true “one, two punch” when paired with Jarvis Landry.

In addition to Matthews, the Dolphins have Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron, both dangerous options who have been underutilized so far this season. If Miami wants to beat the Jets, they will have to make use of all of their weapons on offense.

The New York Jets’ defense seemed immensely confident and well prepared against the Miami Dolphins for their game in London. This could be because the Dolphins barely tried to notch a win for then head coach Joe Philbin, but something has to change. I believe that the best way to do this is by creating gaps in the defense with a diversified offense.

If the Dolphins can distribute the ball in all areas of the field, they will create questions for the Jets’ defense. Rishard Matthews and Jarvis Landry are capable of winning individual matchups, Jordan Cameron can beat linebackers and safeties, and Kenny Stills can stretch the field vertically. Miami cannot afford to allow weapons to sit idly while the offense struggles to establish rhythm.

The team needs to create openings in the defense for Ryan Tannehill. This season, Tannehill either throws into tight traffic or close to the line of scrimmage. Those nice passes where quarterbacks can lead receivers? They do not happen if your receivers are not used in a manner that allows them to separate and create space with defenders.

The most efficient way for Miami to create those openings is to distribute the ball to their collection of weapons and establish a dynamic attack through the air against the Jets.

2) Protect Ryan Tannehill:


The Jets pummeled Ryan Tannehill in Week Four. He was knocked down on almost every play, and truly suffered a physical toll against his northern rivals.

Unfortunately, if the Dolphins cannot do a better job of protecting Tannehill, he will suffer the same fate that he did in their first meeting.

This game seems to have a mixed bag of positives and negatives for the offensive line. As a positive, Branden Albert has returned to his former self (or has gotten closer to it) than he had earlier this year. As a negative, Ja’Wuan James will most likely not play due to a toe injury. The question remains whether or not Miami’s interior offensive line will be able to strengthen their play to help keep Tannehill upright.

The Jets have methods of generating pressure up the middle that remove that area of the field from Tannehill’s selection on any given play. They also often attack the blindside, something many teams do considering Tannehill’s lack of awareness to backside blitzing. If the Dolphins can protect Tannehill, he will be able to distribute the ball and intimidate the defense. This will allow them to run the ball, which establishes the credible threat of play action passes. These play action passes allow for Tannehill to mobilize, operating in an area of strength. If the Dolphins can get him moving, then he will be able to play to his strengths and deliver passes on the run.

Another benefit to improved pass protection will be a decrease in third and long situations that occur when Tannehill takes sacks. If they can keep him upright, he should be able to get the team into more comfortable scenarios.

We all know that Miami’s hopes usually come down to pass protection on offense. So, can the big men up front rise to the occasion, or will they falter once again in the face of a top defensive line?

1) Pressure Ryan Fitzpatrick:


(Tim Ireland/AP)

When I refer to pressuring Fitzpatrick, I mean in two senses.

First, Miami must apply pressure in the pocket.

Then, the team has to force him to throw the ball over 30 times.

Fitzpatrick is known to struggle when faced with pressure. He is a serviceable quarterback at best, meaning he does not excel at quickly moving through reads and delivering the ball when pressure comes in.

Miami has struggled to generate rush on the edges since Wake’s injury, but Suh has picked up his play and helped to provide a staunch pass rush inside. If Miami can interrupt Fitzpatrick’s checkdowns with interior pressure, then they will force him out of the pocket and into deep throws, both of which are not areas in which he excels.

If Fitzpatrick is forced to throw the ball excessively, he will falter. When the Jets cannot run the ball, pressure is applied to Fitzpatrick in the sense that he is forced to singlehandedly lead the offense. This is a nightmare scenario for Todd Bowles.

The Jets understand Fitzpatrick’s limitations. They know he is not capable of leading an offense. The best option for the Dolphins is to focus on shutting down the run early, which will force New York into third and long situations. This is where Fitzpatrick shows his true colors, and will struggle.

The Jets’ chances of winning always come down to Fitzpatrick taking care of the football. Through both prevention of the run and the application of heat in the pocket, Miami will be able to force the Jets’ greatest issue. If their quarterback is forced to put the game on his shoulders, he will almost certainly cost New York this matchup through erratic play and frequent mistakes.

The Skinny:


The New York Jets are built in the trenches. The Miami Dolphins are built outside of the lines.

In an ideal world, the Dolphins would have built themselves like the Jets. To be a successful football team, you have to establish yourself up front, so that you can pressure opposing quarterbacks and protect your own. You can also establish toughness and attitude for your team through solid play on both lines.

While the Jets have good offensive and defensive lines, they struggle at the quarterback position as well as in finesse spots. Miami will have to force the Jets into a finesse game if they want to notch a win here. They will need to make sure Fitzpatrick is throwing the ball, and that the Jets’ offense is forced to take deep shots.

If Miami is unable to do this, they will in all likelihood fall to 0-5 in AFC East play, leaving their only chance at a divisional win their Week 17 matchup with the New England Patriots.

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