Dolphins vs Jets: Top 3 keys to victory for Gang Green

BY Fansided and Ryan Patti/FanSided via The Jet Press • December 17, 2016

Heading into Week 15 action, the Dolphins vs Jets game could be an interesting one if Gang Green plays the role as spoiler. Here are their top three keys to victory for tonight.

Nov 6, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase (L) and New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles (R) shake hands midfield after the game at Hard Rock Stadium. The Miami Dolphins defeat the New York Jets 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets will host the Miami Dolphins in a Week 15 Saturday night showdown. Gang Green sits at a disappointing 4-9 while Adam Gase’s group is in great shape at 8-5. In an outing that has playoff implications for the Dolphins, the Jets will look to spoil by building off their Week 14 performance. This Dolphins vs Jets game could be a good one due to some winter weather conditions and the momentum both teams are bringing to the table.

Todd Bowles and company faced a 14-0 deficit early in the first quarter and it looked like we’d witness another blowout. Instead, they fought back. Bryce Petty and the offense played inspired football and Nick Folk‘s 51-yarder to send the game to overtime was cold-blooded. Bilal Powell punched in a second touchdown and New York came out on top for the first time since October. The Dolphins will be tough, but finally getting a win was a huge confidence-builder.

Miami, on the other hand, won last week, however at the same time they lost. Ryan Tannehill took a low hit from Calais Campbell and they originally believed he tore his ACL. After further examination, they found it was an ACL and MCL sprain. The good news is that his long-term health is intact. The bad news is that he’s most likely going to be out for the remainder of the year. Can Matt Moore lead them into the postseason? We’ll find out soon enough.

Looking at this matchup on paper, the Dolphins are still the favorite. The Jets beat arguably the worst team in the league last Sunday and Miami is a playoff contender even without their starting quarterback. You also have to consider their recent success in the Meadowlands (6-2 in their last eight meetings). They won’t back down with a lot on the line. Without further ado, here are three keys to victory for New York.

Nov 6, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) is tackled by New York Jets linebacker David Harris (52) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins won 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

3. Load the box

Whether Tannehill is under center or not, stuffing the run is how you beat the Dolphins. Jay Ajayi has developed into one of the NFL’s best backs and many teams have struggled to keep him in check. One of those teams was actually Gang Green in Week 9. ‘The Unicorn’ had 24 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown in a come-from-behind victory that essentially knocked the Jets out of realistic playoff contention. He has cooled down since then, although Gase hasn’t changed his workload.

On the season, Ajayi has 956 yards and seven touchdowns on 193 carries. That rounds out to just five yards per clip which is third in the league behind LeSean McCoy (5.2) and Mark Ingram (5.1). His 23 catches for 128 yards don’t make him much of a receiving threat, so the Jets shouldn’t be hesitant on blitzing when he’s in the backfield. Damien Williams is the guy Miami loves to check the ball down to. He’s second on the team in receiving touchdowns with three.

With that being said, Bowles would be hard pressed not to load the box on first and second down to contain Ajayi. Williams is the one to worry about on third down. Look for Darron Lee to continue to be the x-factor in both stopping the run and making tackles in the flat. Don’t expect many downfield throws either. Gase will probably go with a conservative approach since it’s Moore’s first week with the starting offense. New York in response should play the run early and often.

2. Protect Bryce Petty

The offensive line was a surprising strength for the Jets in 2015. It’s now a complete disaster. Ryan Clady, Nick Mangold, and Breno Giacomini are on season-ending IR while Brent Qvale injured his hamstring in Week 14. This leaves Gang Green with Ben Ijalana and rookie Brandon Shell as the two tackles. On the interior, James Carpenter, Wesley Johnson, and Brian Winters remain the starters.

There’s no hiding that this group is terrible. Petty got absolutely clobbered throughout last week’s game in San Francisco. They got to him six times for a loss of 41 yards and it came in a variety of ways. Seventh overall selection DeForest Buckner had two sacks off the edge and the corner/safety blitzes were working as well. Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward both came through untouched to tally one of their own. What’s scary is that the Dolphins have an even better front-seven.

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    New York should do two things against Miami to limit the amount of sacks allowed. The receivers have to run quicker routes to get the ball out of Petty’s hand sooner and Chan Gailey needs to use the tight ends. For blocking purposes only of course, because no tight end on the team can catch consistently. Brandon Bostick and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are big bodies. Get them on the line and give Petty the protection he deserves.

    Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey on the field before the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Get creative

    When you’re 4-9, you usually don’t win old-fashion football games. Your defense doesn’t seem to get any stops while your offense struggles mightily to move the chains. Opening the playbook can help get you production on both ends, however defensively the Jets should be in fine shape. Moore is a respectable veteran who can put points on the board, although he won’t put on a clinic like Andrew Luck did. The pressure tonight is on Gang Green’s offense.

    New York didn’t disappoint from an offensive standpoint in Santa Clara, but it definitely wasn’t the hottest of starts. Petty would’ve thrown a pick-six on his first pass had Ward not fell inside the 10. The Baylor graduate followed the miscue with three drives which ended in punts before finally getting his team a field goal. The second half was an impressive turnaround that consisted of deep balls to Robby Anderson and designed quarterback runs. What happened as a result? They won.

    For the Jets to get the fans on their feet and ruin the Dolphins’ postseason hopes, we’ll have to see some trickery. Throughout the year, Miami has gotten burned for touchdowns on jet sweeps, end-arounds and wildcat plays. Terrelle Pryor, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and J.J. Nelson were the ones who did the most damage in catching the defense off-balanced. Anderson, Jalin Marshall and even Bilal Powell are capable of doing the same. Gailey just has to make it happen.

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