The Miami Dolphins (3-3) will be traveling to MetLife Stadium this Sunday to take on the rival New York Jets (3-4). Miami lost the previous meeting 23-20 in over-time.
The Dolphins will be looking to not only beat their AFC East rivals, but to also push their record above .500 and receive sole possession of second place in the AFC East. The Jets, on the other hand, will be looking to sweep the series from the young and talented Dolphins, while also moving back to .500 on the season.
If Miami is to win this game, there are a few things this young team MUST do:
-Rookie Quarterback Ryan Tannehill MUST take care of the football. In all 3 of Miami’s victories this season, Tannehill took care of the ball and was interception-free. If Tannehill can finish the game without making a mistake, Miami’s chances of winning are high.
-Run the ball on offense, please. In the previous meeting, the Jets had absolutely NO answer for running back Reggie Bush. With a full week off (bye week), Bush should be back to 100 percent – which is the best case scenario for this Miami offense. Not to mention, the team will also receive a boost from the return of second-year running back Daniel Thomas – who has missed some time this season due to two concussions. If both backs are 100 percent, Miami should be able to run the ball all over one of the league’s weaker run defenses.
-Receivers MUST be relevant in this game. Wide Receiver Brian Hartline was shut DOWN during Miami’s victory over the St. Louis Rams – not to mention he was also shut down during the previous contest with New York this season. Hartline must get going early and often – Mike Sherman are you listening? Davone Bess is obviously going to get his touches and has been one of Miami’s most consistent players this season. Miami’s tight ends – Anthony Fasano and Charles Clay – must get themselves open for their rookie quarterback. Both Clay and Fasano present mismatches against this New York defense – Clay just needs to hold on to the football.
-Side Note: Numerous reports have hinted that wide receiver Jabar Gaffney could see some action this week. Gaffney would boost this passing attack by giving Tannehill a viable number-three option.
-The Offensive Line must get back to their dominant run-blocking form we saw earlier in the season. During the first few weeks Miami was one of the most feared teams on the ground – due to the offensive line giving Miami’s backs huge holes to run through. During the past two to three weeks, Miami’s rushing attack has almost been non-existent. Let’s go fellas.
-Stuff the run on defense. During the past few weeks, the Jets have actually found success on the ground – which is surprising because none of their running backs impress me at all. Miami has to get back to stuffing the run in this one – not only to make New York’s offense one dimensional, but also to force Quarterback Mark Sanchez to beat them.
-Defensive backs must do their jobs. Corner Sean Smith has been playing at a pro bowl caliber level so far this season. Smith, who took a step back against St. Louis, must lock down rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill this weekend. If Smith can contain Hill’s speed, he instantly takes away Sanchez’s best target. Nolan Carroll, who has filled in admirably for injured starter Richard Marshall, will be forced to cover Jeremy Kerley – which should be a great speed on speed match up. Safeties Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons MUST take the correct angles and play their butts off. Jones has been impressive so far this season. Clemons, on the other hand, has been quite frustrating. If everyone does their job, this secondary has some potential.
-Lastly, rookies must play like veterans now. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, right tackle Jonathan Martin, and defensive end – linebacker Olivier Vernon have all played a significant amount of time during games – therefore these three are no longer rookies. It’s time for Tannehill to take care of the ball like a veteran quarterback. Time for Martin to solidify the right side of the offensive line and protect Miami’s leader on offense. And Vernon must continue to be a difference maker on defense!
Expect this game to be a hard fought battle from start to finish – Yes, that does mean it should get a little chippy out there (especially with the trash talk the Jets players – including Head Coach Rex Ryan – have been doing within the last few days).
Dolphins – 23 Jets – 17
As always, Keep Your Fins Up!!!