The Fins enter Week 6 following a huge win on the road against the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 43-17. The Dolphins dominated the game throughout, and this was the most impressive win in the Brian Flores era thus far.
This week, the Miami Dolphins (2-3) will play host to the winless New York Jets (0-4) for what will surely be another exciting AFC East match-up. The Jets have been, by-and-large, the worst team in football to this point, but records and stats go out the window when playing a division rival.
Miami has a golden opportunity to carry a two-game win streak into their Week 7 bye, lets preview what the Fins must do to nab their third win of the year and get back to a 0.500 record!
As always, questions or comments? Let me know on Twitter – @Donny_Diablo7.
When, Where, What Else?
The Dolphins will be welcoming the Jets to South Beach in the confines of Hard Rock Stadium with kickoff slated for 4:05 PM EST. At press time, forecasts show variable clouds with thunderstorms, a high of 85 degrees, 10-20 MPH winds, a 77% humidity index, and a 40% chance of rain.
Miami has not fared well in division play thus far, losing both match-ups against the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills. The games were both close, however, with a combined point differential of +13.
These clubs have met in abundance over the last 54 years, with the Jets leading the all-time series 55-53-1. Over the past three years, Miami holds the edge with a 4-2 record in that span. These match-ups have been close, with the most decisive win over the course of three years being a 20-6 Jets victory in September 2017.
Last season, Miami won the first meeting between the clubs, and narrowly missed the divisional sweep, suffering a loss by a score of 22-21 in Week 13.
Despite playing each other so often in the regular season, the only time these teams have met in the postseason was in the AFC Championship in 1983. This was the year that preceded the team drafting Dan Marino, and I was shocked to see the Fins were still victorious despite such a bad performance from QB David Woodley.
Woodley would finish the game completing 9-of-21 passes for 87 yards, no touchdowns, three interceptions, and a fumble, according to Pro Football Reference . Despite this atrocity, Miami would shut out the Jets by a score of 14-0 before losing in Super Bowl XVII against the Washington Redskins, whoever team that is.
It is worth noting Florida governor Ron DeSantis has granted the Dolphins permission to fill Hard Rock Stadium to its 65,000 capacity. Despite this ruling, the Dolphins are still being cautious and will keep capacity at 13,000 fans for the time being.
Tale of the Tape
Miami Dolphins (2-3):
It was “Sunday Funday” for the Fins last week, as they completely dismantled the beaten-up San Francisco 49ers by a score of 43-17.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick kicked off the festivities early on with a beautiful 47-yard bomb to WR Preston Williams that set up Myles Gaskin’s one-yard plunge to the end zone on the team’s first series.
Miami was heavily criticized for not finishing drives a week prior against the Seattle Seahawks, and its safe to say the offense heard it loud and clear. Gaskin’s touchdown would be the first of three touchdown scoring drives in the first half alone.
The 49ers entered the game banged up everywhere, and the secondary was no exception. Fitz took advantage of this early and often, completing several passes of 20+ yards or longer to multiple Dolphins pass catchers.
The biggest beneficiary to the Fins downfield passing attack was Williams, who corralled 4-of-5 targets for 106 yards (26.5 YPC) and a touchdown. Williams made the most of his opportunities with impact plays including scoring Miami’s final touchdown on a 32-yard strike in the fourth quarter. This was the first 100+ game of Williams’ career, and I’m sure he will supply more games like this down the stretch.
The Dolphins offense played great complementary football, as the offensive line protected Fitzpatrick well throughout. With the amount of time Fitzpatrick had to operate, he finished the game completing 22-of-28 passes for 350 yards and three touchdowns.
The defense asserted itself quickly as Zach Sieler nabbed the first of five Miami sacks on the 49ers’ opening series. The Fins would go on to force a turnover-on-downs, with Christian Wilkins and Elandon Roberts thwarting the attempt. Roberts (1 tackle, 1 TFL, 1 sack) would add a sack of his own on the ensuing San Francisco series.
At the start of the second half, Garoppolo was pulled in favor of Beathard for “protection” according to coach Kyle Shanahan. Jimmy G finished his outing completing just 7-of-17 passes for 77 yards and two interceptions.
Down 30-7, in comes 49ers savior C.J. Beathard to save the day, and he provided a spark early. Beathard led the 49ers on their only touchdown-scoring drive of the second half, capped by a 19-yard strike to WR Kendrick Bourne. Beathard did “lead” the drive, but a lot of the success for the 49ers came off two drive-extending penalties on the Miami defense to put them in scoring position.
Following that hiccup, the Fins defense surrendered just 90 total yards and a field goal for the rest of the game. Beathard would finish completing 9-of-18 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown.
The Fins are starting to win in the trenches consistently on both sides of the ball, and DE Emmanual Ogbah must be credited. Ogbah (3 tackles, 1 QB Hit, 1 sack) continued his streak of stellar play, and delivered the final defensive blow with a strip-sack in the fourth quarter, recovered by Christian Wilkins.
New York Jets (0-5):
The Jets are coming off yet another loss, a 30-10 thumping at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals.
Gang Green has been putrid in the Adam Gase era, and with Sunday’s loss, the Jets will have had more double-digit losses than wins in Gase’s time with the team. Someone explain to me how this emotionless robot of a coach still has a job.
Anyway, with starting QB Sam Darnold (shoulder) sidelined by injury, the Jets turned to Mr. Elite himself, Joe Flacco. Flacco hadn’t started a game since Week 8 of the 2019 season, and played well, all things considered.
Flacco finished the contest 18-of-33 with 195 yards and one score, and showed off his classic rocket arm with a beauty of a throw to WR Jameson Crowder, who glided down the field for a 52-yard gain.
The reception was the longest play from scrimmage for either team, and it jump-started New York’s only touchdown drive of the day, capped by an 11-yard TD reception from the poor man’s Antonio Brown, Jameson Crowder.
Crowder has been a bright spot for the Jets whenever he has been able to suit up this year, and the underappreciated receiver finished the game with eight receptions, 116 yards and a touchdown. Sadly for the Jets, this is about the only positive takeaway you can have from this contest.
Defensively, the Jets couldn’t stop the run, and had a ton of trouble limiting explosive plays down the field.
The Cardinals ran for 127 yards as a team, which was not an egregious total, but New York had issues containing the speedy playmakers Arizona had at their disposal. The Cardinals saw running backs Chase Edmonds and Kenyan Drake as well as QB Kyler Murray score on the ground.
The most gut-wrenching of the runs came on a 3rd-and-1 call to Edmonds, who zoomed past the Jets defense for a 29-yard touchdown to give the Cardinals an early lead. The Jets would go on to give up a whopping 496 total yards and obviously had trouble keeping pace.
The Jets conceded multiple big plays down the field, and watched as five Cardinals register a catch of 20+ yards. On a drive that started deep in Arizona territory, the Jets gave up two deep strikes to WR DeAndre Hopkins.
Hopkins beat CB Lamar Jackson twice on the drive, with the first being a dazzling 45-yard sideline catch following a Murray interception on the previous play nullified by penalty. The second came later in the drive, as Hopkins made a one-handed circus catch in the end zone on a 37-yard pass from Murray.
The Jets will also be without RB Le’veon Bell who was released after his tumultuous time with the team. Bell used to be one of the most feared backs in the NFL, but has been a shell of his former self in New York.
The combination of Frank Gore and former Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage will be called upon to replace Bell. Gore has fought off Father Time for the duration of his career, but has shown signs of wear-and-tear this season, averaging just 3.2 YPC.
Miami shipped Ballage to the Jets for a seventh-round pick over the summer, and has amassed just three attempts for 13 yards. There is more potential upside here, but I would imagine Gore will get the brunt of the workload.
At press time, QB Sam Darnold’s status is up in the air, but he is optimistic for his chances this weekend.
“I’m feeling good,” Darnold told “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN 98.7 FM. “I’m just rehabbing it, treating the shoulder as much as I can throughout last week, this weekend, so we’ll see if I’ll be able to play. Right now I’m still taking it day by day. And hopefully, I get to practice this week and play on Sunday.”
If Darnold can’t go, then Joe Flacco will get the nod, which doesn’t bode well for the Fins if history is any indication. Flacco is a perfect 6-0 (1-0 in the post season) all time against the Fins, and has a career stat line of 127-of-177 for 1,518 yards, 10 TDs, and 3 INTs against the team since 2008, according to Pro Football Reference.
Head to Head
Sam Darnold or Joe Flacco vs. DC Josh Boyer: I’m loving Josh Boyer more and more every week, but I’m sure whoever is under center for New York will have a much different opinion on Sunday afternoon. Boyer has the Fins defense playing with their hair on fire as of late when it comes to pressuring quarterbacks. More than likely, the Jets will be playing from behind, and with how bad the Jets offensive line has been to this point, this is shaping up to be another big outing from the Miami defense. Edge: Dolphins
Jets Offensive Line vs. Dolphins Defensive Line: The Jets offensive line has allowed pressure on a whopping 25.3% of the time. Need I say anything else? With the improved play Miami is getting from each member of the defensive line, it could be a painful outing for whoever is under center. Miami racked up five team sacks last week and I expect the sack parade to march on. Edge: Dolphins
Jets Skill Position vs. Dolphins Coverage: Highlighting the Jets skill positions are Jameson Crowder, Chris Herndon, Braxton Berrios, and Chris Hogan. These men have combined for a total of four touchdowns in five games, with two coming from both Crowder and Berrios. Outside of Jameson Crowder, no one is truly a game-breaking threat against the much-improved Miami pass defense that’s only going to get better as CB Byron Jones comes into season form. Edge: Dolphins
What Must Happen
- Limit the deep ball: Miami shut down the deep ball last week, so why is this back on the list? Joe Flacco. Flacco still has a rocket arm, as we saw last week, and it looks as if he’s going to have to use it for the Jets to have a shot at the upset.
- Get off to a fast start: It is crucial to jump out to an early lead and make the Jets play from behind. The Jets simply don’t have the firepower to keep pace if the Fins get rolling early. The Dolphins have also won both games when they are the first to draw blood on the scoreboard.
- Attack the secondary: Fitzpatrick should be in for another big outing as the Jets secondary has struggled to limit explosive plays. Jets corners have not shown the ability to win 50/50 balls all year, and it would be wise for the Fins to exploit this.
- No shots of Jameson: Emphasis must be put on limiting the output of WR Jameson Crowder. Crowder is the only consistent serviceable weapon the Jets boast on offense, and should be the first priority for the Dolphins defense.
- Byron Jones/Xavien Howard vs. Jameson Crowder
- Chris Herndon vs. Eric Rowe
- Devante Parker vs. Lamar Jackson
- Joe Flacco or Sam Darnold vs. Dolphins Coverage
- Kallen Ballade/Frank Gore vs. Jerome Baker
For the first time all year, Miami will be entering a game as the odds-on favorite to win; unfamiliar but welcomed territory. Miami has seen marked improvement week-in and week-out, while the Jets have turned into a dumpster fire.
On paper, the Fins should win this game handily, but this is still a divisional game and I think it will be closer than most pundits believe. When the dust settles, however, I fully expect the boys in South Beach to walk off the field victorious.
Prediction: Dolphins win 24-17
(Featured Image Credit: Miami Dolphins)