With five games left to play in the regular season and the race for the last spot in the AFC playoff picture getting more heated, the New York Jets will host their AFC East rivals, the Miami Dolphins, in what could be a season-defining game on Sunday. The Jets are in desperate need of a win and can pull it off trough a few steps.
Ground and pound: Rex Ryan’s offensive philosophy will have to come alive in this game. Coming into this game, the Jets are ranked 8th in rushing offense and will face a Dolphins defense that ranks 26th against the run. Marty Mornhinweg will need to exploit that matchup and give Chris Ivory 20-30 carries and let Bilal Powell have a fair share of the action as well. Moving the ball consistently and taking time off the clock will wear out the Dolphins’ defense and take a lot of pressure off of Geno Smith, which will help greatly.
Short and easy passes: Geno Smith has been flirting with being benched in favor of Matt Simms due to his tendency to turn the ball over. As much as the Jets’ coaches want to keep him from continuing to make mistakes, they have to give him a chance to make plays. How do they do that? They must give him short passes to work with such as quick slants, halfback flats, and short button hooks. Doing so will build up his confidence and also allow the Jets to move the ball at a steady pace. Finding receivers in open space on such short passes will be a big key as the Jets' receivers have enough speed to gain some extra yards.
Bring the blitzes: If there was any game that Rex Ryan would want to bring in all of the interesting and aggressive blitzes that he could, this would be it. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked more than any other quarterback in the league. The Jets’ defense does a great job of bringing pressure to the quarterback and should take advantage of this opportunity. In addition to Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, and Sheldon Richardson tearing up the Dolphins’ offensive line, Ryan will have to let Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace bring an outside rush and maybe even send David Harris or Demario Davis to bring some extra pressure. If Ryan Tannehill gets mauled and cannot do much, the Jets’ defense can take care of a lot and give the offense a lighter workload to win the game.
Get ready for the deep ball: In Buffalo, EJ Manuel torched the Jets’ secondary with long passes. Joe Flacco did it last week in Baltimore. There should be no reason to believe that Ryan Tannehill will not try it. As mentioned hundreds of times before, the secondary has been the weakness of the Jets’ defense all season long. The Jets’ coaching staff will need to cook up a strong scheme to defend against the pass and prevent the Dolphins from making big plays in the air. A complete game on defense for the Jets should leave the Dolphins with a mediocre performance on offense and be a huge factor for a victory.
Don’t giveth, but taketh away: If the Jets win the turnover battle, they have a good chance of winning the war. This week, they will need to completely dominate that aspect of the game. That means they will need to sharp on offense and not give the ball away and force turnovers on defense. Executing this well will give the Jets many opportunities to score. More points means a better chance of winning. The Jets will need to get their hands on the ball any way they can and take complete control of the game.
Home field advantage: The Jets are 4-1 this season at MetLife Stadium, and this will be a huge home game for them. All the Jets fans in attendance will need to be loud and rowdy and make it a tough environment for the Dolphins. Both teams are 5-6 and in a wild race for the last playoff spot in the AFC, but the Jets have the home crowd. From the second the starting lineup is introduced, the Jets will need to keep their fans alive and loud. Whether or not Fireman Ed decides to come out of retirement, Jets Nation must bring the noise.
From now until the end of the regular season, it will be madness in the AFC. A victory for the Jets will be huge and still give them and their fans a lot of hope for a playoff berth. A win keeps them alive, and a loss could put them in a huge hole. What happens on Sunday could set the tone for what happens the rest of the way.
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