Anytime you’re going on the road, especially facing an AFC East opponent, you want to to play a clean, mistake-free football game. That should be the first concern for the well-rested Miami Dolphins as they travel to MetLife Stadium to face the New York Jets for the second and final time this season.
It was only five weeks ago when Miami played well enough to win at home. They missed that opportunity by failing to execute in the kicking game and throwing a pick-six to give the struggling Jets easy points to start the second half. Here’s the way I see Miami winning on the road this Sunday.
1) Get The Running Game Going Again – It’s been a couple of weeks since the Dolphins have been able to rely on the running game. Injuries to running back Reggie Bush has slowed a ground game that was on fire for the first three weeks of the season. Also, the concussions sustained by backup Daniel Thomas has altered the rotation that worked so well during that stretch. It also affects the way offensive coordinator Mike Sherman calls the game, while putting more pressure on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Ryan has shown he can handle the extra workload, but ideally you would like to pound the Jets and dominate the line of scrimmage. The Jets have given up an average of 147.7 yards per game on the ground and the Dolphins rushed for 185 yards in game one verses the Jets, with Bush missing the entire second half!
The offensive line needs to dominate the line of scrimmage on Sunday. If Miami can create balance and stay out of the third and long scenarios, Tannehill job becomes easier and Miami’s offense can dominate the time of possession. That means a well-rested Bush should get lots of action on the ground and in the short passing game.
2) Get Sanchez On The Ground – It’s still fresh in my mind how good Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was at eluding and sliding away from the relentless pressure the Dolphins applied in game one at Sun Life Stadium. Sanchez made play after play stepping up away from a possible sack, delivering key completions and keeping drives alive. That must stop on Sunday if Miami is going to be successful on defense! The Dolphins have 18 team sacks with Cam Wake leading the way with six and a half. Randy Starks (three and a half) and Olivier Vernon (two and a half) will need to keep bringing the heat opposite Wake, and don’t be surprised if the linebackers as a group get involved in pressure packages.
The Jets passing game is minus Santonio Holmes, who is gone for the season, and that should allow Miami to tighten their coverage in the secondary. It should be a long day for New York especially if they have trouble running against a defense that only gives up 78.2 yards per game. Last time out pressure didn’t lead to a victory, but this time it just might result in turnovers and creating field position of the Dolphins offense.
3) Win On Special Teams – It seems like when you play the Jets, special teams is always a major concern. New York’s special teams coach Mike Westhoff always has something planned for his former team and the fake punt conversion for the Jets in the last meeting resulted in a 57-yard drive and three points! Miami could have sealed the game if place kicker Dan Carpenter would have converted from 48 yards in overtime, and I’m sure he’s ready for the next opportunity if it arises on Sunday. A clean day on special teams always is a clear path to victory and if punter Brandon Fields can continue to flip the field on the struggling Jets offense, I can see Sanchez and company driving 80 or 85 yards consistently for enough point to win at home.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.