Tale Of The Tape: Miami Dolphins At New York Jets
- QuarterbackThis was supposed to be a season of growth for the Dolphins and quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Instead, both the team and the quarterback have been stagnant. Tannehill is smart, reads defenses well and has a plus arm. However, he rarely makes the big play at the key moment and that’s what being a successful quarterback is all about. So far, Tannehill doesn’t have it.It looked like Geno Smith was slowly starting to understand what it takes to be successful in the NFL. However, the last two games have been dreadful for Smith and he has been regressing in his rookie year. Smith’s big problem is that he does not read coverages the way he is supposed to and that’s why he has an abominable 8-18 TD-interception ratio.
- OffenseThe Dolphins are simply ordinary on the offensive end. They don’t get much of a bump from the running game. Brian Hartline is a decent possession receiver who knows how to get open, but deep threat Mike Wallace is much too inconsistent. Charles Clay can be a solid target on third-down plays because of his long arms and tremendous reach.The Jets’ running game was quite productive earlier in the year and they still have the eight-ranked ground attack in the league. However, opposing defenses are focusing on Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory because they know Smith can’t beat them with the passing attack. The Jets wide receivers don’t seem to get open and that’s not helping Smith’s development.
- DefenseThe Dolphins have a hard hitting and athletic defense, but that unit doesn’t often play its best when the game is on the line. Miami ranks 25th against the run and the defense gets worn down in the second half. Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler regularly sells out to make big plays and he leads the team with 78 stops. Defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake have combined for 13.0 sacks.The Jets have very little offense, but the defense has played well all season. They rank eighth overall and first against the run. Those numbers indicate that the defense continues to play hard for head coach Rex Ryan, even though the team is going nowhere. Inside linebacker David Harris has a team-high 85.0 tackles, while defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson leads the Jets with 10.0 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Dolphins’ punt and kickoff coverage has been ordinary this season and return specialist Marcus Thigpen is not a big-play threat. Placekicker Caleb Sturgis has been inconsistent this year, making 20-of-26 field goal attempts. Punter Brandon Fields has a big leg and is averaging 49.2 yards per punt.The Jets have been decent in their punt and kickoff coverage and they know that Josh Cribbs may not be as explosive as he was in his heyday with the Cleveland Browns, but he is capable of a big play. Placekicker Nick Folk has been nearly perfect, making 24-of-25 FG attempts this season.
The Jets were quite competitive throughout the first half of the season, but it’s going to be quite difficult to maintain that level since their quarterback play has been so poor. Unless Tannehill throws three interceptions or more, the Dolphins should find a way to win on the road.