An opportunity to beat a division opponent and get over .500 looms for the New York Jets. They will be competing against a 3-1 Miami Dolphins team that has had a fast start.
Much is made of the coaching relationships between these two teams. Both head coaches, Robert Saleh and Mike McDaniel, along with Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur all have years of experience together, and it was not too long ago they were all on the same staff. As a result, with the knowledge they have of each other, it will be fascinating to see if either team looks to throw some unique, unexpected wrinkles into their game plan.
After taking a look at their Week 3 and 4 games on film, let’s get into the strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies of the Dolphins.
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One aggressive defense, to say the least:
The Jets’ passing game will have some opportunities for big plays this week. Both down the field on go routes and working on crossers where the Jets wide receivers can gain yards after the catch, chances to generate explosives will come as a result of the Dolphins’ aggressive defense.
To start, up front, the Dolphins throw a ton of exotic looks at opponents. They can put seven or eight defenders at the line of scrimmage. In this picture below from Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills, they ended up sending all eight players.
For the most part, they work with one deep safety, that being Jevon Holland. Alongside him, it was Brandon Jones (#29 all the way on the right in picture above) in the Week 3 matchup with the Bills reviewed. He played 90% of the snaps in that game.
Against the Cincinnati Bengals the following week, it was more of Eric Rowe who played as their strong safety. He played 64% of the reps in that one. It will be interesting to see who they go with this week.
The Dolphins will match up their cornerbacks in man coverage. At the position currently, though, Byron Jones is still on the PUP list. Xavien Howard (groins) and Keion Crossen (glute/shoulder) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Howard was at practice today, however. Undrafted rookie Kader Kohou will play in the slot. Nik Needham is a versatile player who may have to play on the outside at corner in this one.
In their Cover-1 looks, Holland aligns as the lone deep safety, shading to Chase’s side in these two plays below.
As shown on this play, Howard follows Higgins into the slot.
In the Bengals game, they matched up Howard on Tee Higgins, either Crossen or Needham on Ja’Marr Chase, and Kohou on Tyler Boyd. Using that, the Jets can possibly expect Kohou on Garrett Wilson, if Howard goes, he may line up with Corey Davis, and then either Needham or Crossen on Elijah Moore.
Not only are the Dolphins’ looks and blitzes up front exotic, but so are their coverages. They rotate late and will invert some zone coverages. As noted, Needham is a position flexible player. However, here, he shows a late bail (on the bottom) from his outside corner position to take a deep-half in an inverted Tampa-2.
The Dolphins also showed some Inverted Tampa-2 looks where Needham blitzed from the outside multiple times against the Bills.
One way for the Jets to potentially freeze the Dolphins in their inverted coverages is for LaFleur to dial up some trick plays like the Bengals do here.
Two takeaways from the Bills game in terms of the Dolphins’ defensive front were their NASCAR packages (first picture) and their eight-man boxes. The versatile Emmanuel Ogbah and long-time, accomplished veteran Melvin Ingram were the two most active players up front for them in these two games.
If the Dolphins load up the box with eight like this, as noted above, 1-on-1 chances will be there for the Jets on the outside.
Lastly, on their defense, both the Bills and the Bengals showed some ways to defeat their blitz-heavy schemes.
As mentioned, the Jets should have some chances on deep-level go routes down the field against Cover-1.
When the Dolphins blitz and run Cover-0 with off corners, the Jets can win on quick hitters going east and west with drags, crossing/over routes, and on flats with Breece Hall and Michael Carter where they may be uncovered. These were a few of the ways the Bills attained some success.
As shown below here by the Bengals, with off coverage in Cover-0, the Jets can win with some quick screens as well. The Bengals also bring in the closest skill player to the line of scrimmage, Boyd, on a late motion to help block, which then negates the defensive back who was suppose to cover him.
The Dolphins offense led by McDaniel:
Starting in the trenches, the Dolphins’ offensive line has a few players executing well worth noting. Center Connor Williams, who the team signed in free agency hardly made any mistakes in the two games reviewed. Right guard Robert Hunt and big-ticket free agent left tackle Terron Armstead were both good.
The two players the Jets will have to beat to win up front are right tackle Greg Little who John Franklin-Myers and Jermaine Johnson will likely compete against. Then, at left guard, Liam Eichenberg has had some struggles. Quinnen Williams is set to get some chances to line up across from him and should keep up his dominance.
Their running game is nothing to write home about. The speed of Raheem Mostert is the main thing to really key in on. Chase Edmonds has been utilized in the passing game. Overall, they have 277 yards on the ground in four games, 29th in football. The Jets’ run defense, which has had three good games out of four, should make it four out of five this week.
To conclude here, the two headliners of not just the Dolphins’ offense but their team is Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. The two offer elite speed. It would be wise for the Jets, with the lack of a running game from the Dolphins, to play with two deep safeties, limiting big-play chances for the Dolphins’ speedsters in this one. The Jets should still be able to stop the run without safety help in the box.
Teddy Bridgewater will be starting this one. Whether the Dolphins change up anything in their passing game remains to be seen. One staple to their passing game on early downs, though are these jet motion, play action, quick read throws on dig routes to Hill or Waddle over the middle. The Jets will have to work to limit these.