Five things to watch when the Miami Dolphins play at the New York Jets:
1. The Dolphins should win this game. The entire Earth knows this. But can that expectation lead to overconfidence or complacency? The Dolphins aren’t thinking this way. Players and coaches say they are worried about themselves. They are eager to play a game because they know how it feels to have games postponed. The chances of losing this game over psychological issues is very small. If the Dolphins lose, it is because the Jets play a more physical, sound game than them. It would not be because the Dolphins underestimated the opponent or weren’t interested.
2. What is the personality of the Dolphins 2017 offense? We don’t know because there is only one game to judge the unit by. And that game suggested this team will be serving up a ton of quick passes to Jarvis Landry and wearing out running back Jay Ajayi. The chances of that repeating every week are not good because Ajayi, for example, cannot carry 28 times every game as he did last week. It is not sustainable. So maybe 20-23 carries is the better figure. As for Landry being targeted 15 times as he was last week, coach Adam Gase said he will rely on different players every week. It will not always be the same guy week after week because opponents will try to take certain plays and players away from Miami’s arsenal.
3. What can the Dolphins do if Jordan Phillips cannot play? Phillips has an ankle injury and is doubtful for this game. The Dolphins have three defensive tackles -- including rookies Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor -- who will play a lot. It is likely the Dolphins will ask 270-pound defensive end Terrence Fede to work some at defensive tackle. The Dolphins could also mix their fronts. But let’s face it, the Dolphins will be in their 4-3 base with two burly DTs only for run plays. The rest of the time, the team is in its nickel package and that means only one true DT, Ndamukong Suh, is needed for pass rush purposes.
4. The Jets are supposed to have a strong front but is that the truth of the matter? Last season they limited Jay Ajayi to 3.8 yards per rush in two games. Coach Todd Bowles also is a very good defense-minded coach. And having said all that, the front seven has played poorly so far. The Jets have given up the most points, on average, of any other team at 33 points per game. And New York is dead last in run defense, allowing 185 yards per game on the ground. It gets worse. Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson missed two of three practices last week because of a shoulder injury. Sheldon Richardson was traded to Seattle before the season. And Leonard Williams, who is usually very good, got dominated at times against Oakland last week.
5. Are the Dolphins linebackers up to the task of being without Lawrence Timmons another week? Well, Timmons remains suspended. Rey Maualuga is still nursing a hamstring injury and is out. And recently acquired Stephone Anthony doesn’t seem ready to really contribute barring a major emergency. But the Dolphins got along fine with Mike Hull and Kiko Alonso as the nickel linebackers against Los Angeles. And Chase Allen did fine in his limited snaps. This is not the week the defense unravels because of Miami’s linebacker corps. Next week against New Orleans might be a different matter. But not this week, given New York’s talent level on offense.
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