By Abraham Gutierrez
For the 102nd time, the (3-4) Miami Dolphins and the (3-5) New York Jets battle it out on the old gridiron, and this time, one of these club’s win streak will come to an end. Winners of two straight games, Gang Green travels to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, to take on a Fins squad that seems to be heating up coming out of the bye riding the momentum of a two-game win streak. Opening kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET and it will be broadcast live on CBS Sports.
Miami Dolphins Season Record: 3-4-0
Under the tutelage of first-year head coach, Adam Gase, the Dolphins are 3-4, which is only good enough for third place in the AFC East. However, underestimating this bunch could prove to be a costly mistake; just ask Mike Tomlin’s Steelers and Rex Ryan’s Bills.
The Dolphins are 3-1 at home, 0-3 on the road and 1-1 against fellow AFC East opponents. Miami is also 3-3 against the American Football Conference, 0-1 against non-conference foes, have won two straight and are 3-2 in their last 5 contests.
Dolphins on Offense
After three seasons as the Indianapolis Colts’ quarterbacks coach, Clyde Christensen took over offensive coordinator duties in 2016. Excited about the possibility of working with Ryan Tannehill, he told reporters that the former Texas A&M product had “all the things that you’re looking for,” to make his scheme work.
And while Tannehill’s play hasn’t exactly set the world on fire thus far this season, Christensen seems to have found a recipe for success through the ground. With a healthy offensive line, it’s going to be interesting how the rest of the season will play out on the ground and through the air.
Christensen’s offensive unit comes into Week 9 ranked 22nd in the league in points (20.9), 17th in total yards (349.6), 24th in passing yards (229.6) and seventh in rushing yards (120.0) per game.
Dolphins on Defense
Miami’s defensive coordinator is Vance Joseph, who last year was the defensive backs coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. His first order of business when he joined the Dolphins was to assess his personnel in an attempt to determine which defensive scheme was the best fit.
Thus, Joseph decided to abandon his usual 3-4 (scheme) and stick to the 4-3 formations implemented by his predecessors. Thus far, the decision hasn’t exactly played out the way he envisioned coming out of training camp.
With seven games in the books, Miami’s defense is ranked 16th in points (22.7), 20th in total yards (367.0), 10th in passing yards (231.4) and 30th in rushing yards per game (135.6) allowed.
Dolphins Players to Watch
On the offensive side of the rock, there’s no question that the Dolphins’ player to watch is none other than running back Jay Ajayi. The Boise State product comes into Week 9 tied with O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams as the only players ever to rush for 200-plus yards in two straight ballgames. After rushing for 204 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers and 214 versus the Buffalo Bills the following week, Ajayi will be looking to become the first player in NFL history to eclipse the 200-yard rushing mark in three consecutive games.
On defense, Miami’s player to watch is Ndamukong Suh, who comes in leading the team with 3.5 sacks on the season. The seventh-year man out of Nebraska has also contributed with 32 tackles this year, out of which, 16 have been assisted and 16 on his own. The fact that he’s already more than halfway to his season numbers from a year ago (61 tackles, 6 sacks), indicates that Suh is playing with a purpose and will be instrumental in Miami’s efforts to extend their win streak to three games.
This is a contest between two teams desperate to extend their respective win streaks in order to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The key battle in this game will be how good of a job the Jets’ top-ranked rushing defense does containing Dolphins’ running back Jay Ajayi (418 yards on 53 carries over the last two games).
Also worth keeping an eye on is the play of Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who suffered a concussion in last week’s win over the Cleveland Browns. With Geno Smith out for the remainder of the season following knee surgery, Bowles would have to rely on Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg as backup signal-callers should Fitz struggle against Miami’s defense.