The New York Jets begin the post-Le’Veon Bell era on Sunday in South Beach, engaging in a rescheduled match with the Dolphins.
What: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL
When: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
Back in September, the New York Jets expected to have Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell, among others, for an October 18 showdown with the Los Angeles Chargers. Now that the day has finally come, Darnold is hurt, Bell has been released, and even their opponent was shifted due to the ongoing health crisis’s impact on the NFL.
The Jets nonetheless press on, as Jets head coach Adam Gase returns to his former site of employment through a matchup against the Miami Dolphins. This matchup was originally scheduled for November 15, but that now serves as the Jets’ bye. The aforementioned visit to Los Angeles now comes on November 22.
“We’ve got to play somebody, so it doesn’t affect me,” linebacker Avery Williamson said of the switch, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “It shouldn’t affect anybody.”
New York (0-5) is coming off a 30-10 defeat at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Joe Flacco threw for 195 yards and a touchdown in his first start in place of the injured Darnold, with the score and 116 yards of his tally going to Jamison Crowder. The slot receiver reached triple figures in receiving for the third time this season, currently pacing the Jets with 335 yards over his trio of games. Arizona relentlessly countered with 411 yards of offense from Kyler Murray, who was also responsible for two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins (2-3) are coming off a dominant upset win in San Francisco, drubbing the 49ers by a 43-17 final. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 350 yards and three scores, each of which went to a different receiver. Miami defenders also united for five sacks of San Francisco quarterbacks.
The Jets and Dolphins will continue a series that has been staged twice yearly since Miami’s inception in 1966. New York maintained their lead in the series, currently up 55-53-1, by snapping a four-game losing streak in the series through a 22-21 decision at MetLife Stadium last December. Miami had won six of the past seven entering that game, which was decided by a Sam Ficken field goal.
History Happens: 2015
The Jets’ last sweep of the Dolphins came in 2015, starting with a 27-14 triumph in London. Part of the NFL’s International Series, the Jets jumped out to an early lead thanks to Chris Ivory’s score on their opening drive. Ivory would go onto run for a career-best 166 yards, while the aforementioned Fitzpatrick would find Eric Decker from 10 yards just before the halftime gun to build a 20-7 lead at intermission. Stoppage time wasn’t required for the Jets to finish their British masterpiece. Zac Stacy scored another touchdown, while Darrelle Revis and Marcus Williams each earned an interception. Brandon Marshall paced the Jets with 128 receiving yards, while Muhammad Wilkerson had two sacks of Ryan Tannehill.
They Said It
“When you lose, the week is long. It’s long and it’s painful, because if you put the amount of time and effort that everybody in this building has, really since the offseason, doing everything virtually and then coming back and trying to figure out how training camp was going to go…It’s the constant talking to these guys, whether it be at practice or in a team meeting or offense and defense split up. Just keep the reminders of, ‘Hey, this is how we can get things flipped around. This is how we can improve. This is what we can do to help our team on this side of the ball.’ And that’s a conversation that’s definitely been had the last couple weeks.”-Adam Gase on the state of the 0-5 Jets, per Brian Costello
“Winning last week was a good start, but we’ve got to take care of business this week, then we’ve got a bye,” Dolphins center Ted Karras said. “I’m having a lot of fun. I love all the guys on this team. It’s been a great start to the year. Obviously, we left a few things out in a couple of the early games, but we’re going to continue to work our hardest and prepare and then go out there on Sundays. That’s the only way to turn any tide, is to go out there and perform your best on Sunday, so that’s what I’m focused on every day.”-Dolphins center Ted Karras, per Adam H. Beasley
Matchup to Watch
Jets Pass Defense vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ah, Ryan Fitzpatrick…ruining your favorite team’s draft position since 2005.
That truly shouldn’t be held against Fitzpatrick, who has carved a respectable NFL career since his seventh-round drafting out of Harvard (did you know he went there?). It has become a bit of an NFL tradition for a team to bring in Fitzpatrick as a placeholder quarterback, only to see him post strong numbers that make it difficult to move on from him. The Jets certainly know what that’s like, having seen Fitzpatrick throw a team-record 31 touchdown passes during the aforementioned 2015 campaign after filling in for the incapacitated Geno Smith.
Fitzpatrick took over placeholder duties last season and performed respectably. This year, he was expected to keep Tua Tagovailoa’s seat warm, but, once again, he’s making it hard to pull off the transition. Fitzpatrick has completed a career-best 70 percent of his passes thus far and has earned triple digits in passer rating three times (including 154.5 in San Francisco last weekend). He has done so with his top receivers being DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki…the former of whom was a pupil of Gase’s during their time in Miami together.
Like several others, Parker has seemed to improve since Gase moved on. It’ll be up to the Jets defense to not only attack Fitzpatrick but to harass his receivers. If the Jets can make Miami think of Tagovailoa for any stretch on Sunday, they’ll have done something right.
The Jets Will Win If…
Their defense takes care of the offense.
To say the Jets’ offense is in a period of transition would be the understatement of this topsy-turvy year. They could get Breshad Perriman back, but Darnold is still out and Bell isn’t coming back, giving way to Flacco, Frank Gore, and La’Mical Perine. Keeping Miami at bay is a duty that will fall to the defense…one that doesn’t sound too pleased by the way things around going.
“It’s not a very good number, and a lot of it’s not all defensively,” defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said on Friday, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “It’s points on the board and we’ve got to do a good job of that, and how you do that is make them kick more field goals, got to do a better job in field-position-type things. As you see, the scoring is up in the league, but it still makes me sick.”
Reeling and in the midst of a rebuilding purge brought upon by Bell’s release, the Jets need to put their differences aside if they’re going to band together for a much-needed victory.
The Dolphins Will Win If…
They take advantage of a trap game opponent down in the dumps.
Crazy things tend to happen in divisional matchups. Last season, the 0-7 Dolphins earned their first win against the Jets, kickstarting a strong finish to end the year and generating some buzz around head coach Brian Flores (Miami is 7-7 since that November meeting, with four of the defeats coming by 10 points or less). In the premature playoff picture, the Dolphins are one game out of the extra spot with their bye week coming next week. A perilous trek aways the Dolphins in the immediate aftermath (both LA teams sandwich Arizona).
No one could fault the Dolphins if they missed out on the playoffs this year, but it’d certainly be an inspiring sign if the team was ahead of schedule in year two under Flores. If Miami has any hopes of breaking into the postseason picture this year, Sunday is more or less a must-win.
You’d be hard-pressed to find another game for the Jets to win on their current schedule, at least in the near future. But, once again, a win appears to be simply too much to ask for from this squad in squalor. The post-Bell era will start the way the rusher’s New York tenure began and ended…with a loss.
Dolphins 23, Jets 13
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags