Another week, another unpromising game for the New York Jets.
The Jets are 0-5 as the season nears its halfway point. On the one hand, very few expected the team to play as badly as it has. On the other hand, a grand total of nobody should be surprised by their record considering the display they have put on thus far.
It has been nearly a month since the Jets lost their opening game of the season. Five weeks later, there has been no improvement but only injuries that have forced the team to overcome even more holes. The offense has been one of the worst in the NFL, with the passing game outmatching all kinds of negative expectations.
It hasn’t just been the wide-receiving core that has been absent. While suffering from the lack of a decent weapon pool, Sam Darnold has played poorly to a career-worst 70.7 passer rating. Furthermore, the offensive line has diminished the hopes it established after a good offseason. Le’Veon Bell was beyond disappointing in two games, averaging 3.9 yards per rush, before an injury and a subsequent release from the team. New York’s offensive unit is unproductive across the board. This is expected by the worst unit in the league, and still, the Jets are a case we’ve not seen in recent memory.
While the defense has been a lot better, it has also been in the bottom part of the league in most categories. The team is an absolute mess that doesn’t seem like it will flourish any time soon.
Their next opponent isn’t one they match in quality either. The Jets are set to visit the hot Miami Dolphins coming off a blowout 43-17 victory over the 49ers. The game’s spread – the Dolphins as 9-point favorites – indicates how painful to watch the Jets are currently. However, do they have any chance to defeat Miami on Sunday afternoon?
FITZMAGIC AND COMPANY TO SHINE AGAIN
To surely the surprise of many people, the 2-3 Dolphins have been very productive through the air at the start of the season. Preston Williams is the unit’s top target, and Mike Gesicki is a reliable tight end, but neither DeVante Parker and Isaiah Ford were supposed to be centerpieces of the offense.
However, Ford has been one of the most surprising standout wide receivers in the league. He has caught 17 of 18 targets (60%) for an average of 10.2 yards per reception. In a team whose downfield target in Williams has been inefficient, Ford provides a much-needed depth in the intermediate passing game. Meanwhile, Parker has been terrific, leading the team with 32 targets and 28 catches (81.3 percent) and 12.7 yards per catch.
Parker and Gesicki both have a catch percentage near or higher than 65 percent, indicating they make the most of their opportunities. Myles Gaskin, the team’s most-used running back, has also been heavily involved through the air, and effectively so (92% catch percentage). Even if Isaiah Ford’s success isn’t sustainable, the group’s depth still provides weapons for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Moreover, Fitzpatrick himself has provided a notable spark, completing 70 percent of his throws and recording a passer rating of 95.3.
Their opposition has a lot of improvements to make to stop the Dolphins’ air raid. Through Week 5, the Jets have allowed 265.6 passing yards per game, the eighth-most in the NFL. The team’s sole saving grace on the outside, corner Blessuan Austin, is questionable, while Pierre Desir has been a major disappointment with an allowed passer rating of 118.3. The same goes for safeties Marcus Maye and Bradley McDougals. Dolphins receivers have many favorable matchups against cornerbacks not named Brian Poole.
JETS COULD STOP THE DOLPHINS ON THE GROUND
The matchups between Miami’s running faction and the Jets’ defense against the rush are very similar to the previous one but with a change in power balance. Unbelievably, the Jets have been successful stopping the run so far. New York has allowed 4.2 yards per rush on 154 attempts or the 12th-best in the league.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins have completely underperformed on the ground this year. The team has averaged the third-fewest yards per rush, 3.7, on 140 attempts, fewer than nine teams with a better average figure. Despite being a major part of the passing game, Gaskin has not been as prolific on the ground with an average of just 3.9 yards on 64 attempts. Matt Breida is yet to start a game and Jordan Howard has, surprisingly, been left out of the rotation.
The Dolphins spent a significant number of plays running the ball. The passing/running ratio is 170:140, or 1.21:1. In short, Brian Flores spends nearly half the time using his inefficient running unit. If the Jets shut down the Dolphins on the ground, which they’re capable of doing, they could dramatically limit Miami’s ability to move the ball downfield.
TOUGH DAY FOR THE O-LINE
During the 2020 offseason, Jets GM Joe Douglas completed more signings in the offensive-line department than anywhere else on the field. Connor McGovern, one of the best centers in the league, as well as the likes of George Fant and Greg Van Roten, in addition to first-round draftee Mekhi Becton, seemed like pleasing moves at the time. However, they have not paid off.
McGovern himself hasn’t experienced a serious downfall, paying all snaps in all but one game and not committing a single penalty. However, the line has struggled noticeably protecting the quarterback. The group has conceded 15 sacks, tied with Seattle for the eighth-most in the NFL. Moreover, Fant and Becton have both missed time due to injuries.
Miami’s pass-rush has exceeded expectations. The Dolphins stand inside the top 10 in sacks with 14. Emmanuel Ogbah has contributed the most to the unit’s dominance with sacks on three occasions, just 2.5 short of his 2019 career-best. The Jets, who have allowed more sacks than one of the Dolphins’ top-ten pass-rush have made, are in for a difficult day, both in providing time for whoever their quarterback may be and in the hopes of the running game of turning its season around.
DeVante Parker (32 targets, 26 receptions, 81.3 catch percentage, 12.7 yards/reception) vs. Pierre Desir (20 targets, 118.3 allowed passer rating)
Jets defense against the run (154 attempts, 4.2 yards/rush, 12th) vs. Dolphins running game (140 attempts, 3.7 yards/rush, 30th)
Dolphins passing game (260.6 yards/game, 15th) vs. Jets passing defense (265.6 allowed yards/game, 25th)
Isaiah Ford (28 targets, 17 receptions, 60.7 catch percentage, 10.2 yards/reception) vs. Brian Poole (25 targets, 61.1 allowed passer rating)
Dolphins pass-rush (14 sacks, 8th) vs. Jets offensive line (15 allowed sacks, 24th)
|New York Jets||Miami Dolphins|
|QB Sam Darnold [DOUBTFUL]||LB Kyle Van Noy [QUESTIONABLE]|
|CB Blessuan Austin [QUESTIONABLE]||DE Shaq Lawson [QUESTIONABLE]|
|DT Quinnen Williams [QUESTIONABLE]||TE Durham Smythe [QUESTIONABLE]|
|RT Mekhi Becton [DOUBTFUL]|
|WR Breshad Perriman [QUESTIONABLE]|
|LG Alex Lewis [QUESTIONABLE]|
|DE John Franklin-Myers [QUESTIONABLE]|
Some areas provide leverage for the New York Jets. They can limit Miami’s ground game, and Jamison Crowder, on a good day, can beat an inconsistent Dolphins secondary. Nevertheless, the secondary will struggle against the talented Miami offense, and the Jets’ attack will fail to move the ball downfield due to lacking weapons and throwing time for the QB. Prediction: Miami Dolphins win 24-17
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