Miami Dolphins

Five things to watch: Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore, above, will step in as the starter after the team lost Ryan Tannehill to an injury he sustained in Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. The Dolphins have said they will not be altering their game plan.
Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore, above, will step in as the starter after the team lost Ryan Tannehill to an injury he sustained in Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. The Dolphins have said they will not be altering their game plan. AP

1 Time to get reacquainted with Matt Moore: Miami’s playoff fate is in the hands of a 32-year-old quarterback who hasn’t started a game in five years, and that would ordinarily be cause for alarm, but the Dolphins have spent the week talking about how the game plan isn’t changing, the team’s expectations aren’t changing, and how ultimately the results on game day should not change. The Jets will obviously have other thoughts on the matter and may try to chase Moore with more blitzes than they would have starter Ryan Tannehill because Moore is not nearly as mobile.

2 Jay Ajayi as a 1,000-yard rusher? At the beginning of the season the second-year running back might have gladly taken being 44 yards shy of 1,000 yards with three games to play but after his midseason hot streak, this seems a little bit like settling. It is not. Ajayi has run well enough to be on a 1,400-yard pace for the season but with injuries to the offensive line and even the wide receiver corps, his statistics have suffered. Despite this, it isn’t outrageous to expect Ajayi will emerge from this game as a 1,000-yard rusher.

3 What is the Jets motivation? Their season ended in failure long ago. The Jets are going nowhere at 4-9. But with multiple reports in Metropolis discussing whether coach Todd Bowles could be fired and other reports outlining the team’s offseason draft plans, it is obvious this game is important to the organization. Corrnerback Darrelle Revis, once the NFL’s best cornerback hasn’t had a typically good season. So he has something to play for — his reputation as an elite NFL player.

4 Can Anthony Steen rebound or is his time coming to an end? The Dolphins put Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey on injured reserve this week and that effectively ended his season because of a recurring hip injury. This would suggest Steen would be the center the remainder of this season because he stepped in for Pouncey and played relatively well earlier this season. But Steen is coming off perhaps his worst game and he hasn’t been quite the same player as he was early when he was healthy. That’s the reason Kraig Urbik got snaps at center this week during practice. The Dolphins might decide to stick with Steen so as to not be making a change at quarterback and center. But if Steen continues to struggle, a change is likely.

5 The Jets have QB issues of their own: Crazy-armed Ryan Fitzgerald started the season as the starter and hoped to pick up where he left off last year when he threw 31 TD passes. Nope, sorry. Couldn’t do it. Instead Fitzpatrick threw 14 interceptions to his 10 TD passes, was benched multiple times, and finally lost his starting job. After a brief (14 passes) attempt to play Geno Smith, a season-ending injury to the South Floridian forced the Jets to turn to second-year quarterback Bryce Petty. And Petty, who never played under center or had to call plays during his college days at Baylor, is playing like he’s early in his learning curve. He’s thrown four interceptions and two TD passes. He’s completing less than 60 percent of his passes. And none of this so far suggests Petty is the team’s QB of the future.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments