Miami Dolphins: 5 keys to beating New York Jets

 

    Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) looks for a hole to run through against the San Francisco 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on November 27, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi looks for a hole to run through against the San Francisco 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
  1. Jay Ajayi gains 100 yards. This has gotten ridiculous. Ajayi has broken as many tackles as any running back in the NFL. He’s shown speed, power, elusiveness, dogged determination and relentlessness. And yet, too often, lately, Ajayi is left with a loss or no gain. Coach Adam Gase wants to get Ajayi the ball more. Ajayi wants the ball more. All agree. So the Dolphins need to get it done. Ajayi had 111 yards against the Jets in the first meeting.
  2. Matt Moore protects the football. This whole “gunslinger” storyline is great fun. And it’s great that Moore doesn’t seem intimidated by the assignment and has a willingness to take chances. But they must be reasonable. Especially in cold rain or sleet Saturday night, Moore must limit fumbles (an issue in 2011) and interceptions. Miami had trouble with center-quarterback exchange in the rain last Sunday. Miami can’t fumble away the game. Good news for the Fins — the Jets have only 10 takeways all season.
  3. More pressures and more sacks than New York. The Dolphins and Jets have each allowed 29 sacks, which is middle of the pack in the NFL. But – the Jets have shut down center Nick Mangold and right tackle Breno Giacomini, creating further opportunities for Ndamukong Suh (2 sacks vs. Jets in Week 9) and Cameron Wake (one sack). The Dolphins’ front has created tons of issues for quarterbacks this year and neophyte Bryce Petty was sacked six times by San Francisco. Mo Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson have only four total sacks by Leonard Williams (seven sacks) against center Anthony Steen or Kraig Urbik is a concern.
  4. Capitalize on special teams edge. The Jets stink on special teams. According to Football Outsiders, New York has the second-worst overall special teams in the NFL and Miami has the 14th-best. The Dolphins are better at kickoff returns, punt returns, kickoff coverage, punt coverage, kicking and punting. Other than that, nothing to see. Remember, Kenyan Drake won the first meeting with a 96-yard kickoff return.
  5. Don’t underestimate Bilal Powell. Matt Forte doesn’t seem likely to play due to a torn meniscus in his knee. But even if he does, the most dangerous Jets running back (running and receiving) threat is actually Bilal Powell. Powell ran for 145 yards against San Francisco and is averaging 5.8 yards per attempt this season. The Dolphins are 30th in the NFL against the run. The Jets are 10th in rushing. So this is one way the Jets can stay in the game, by gashing Miami’s defense on the ground.

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