After last week’s loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Miami Dolphins have turned the page, with all eyes focused on a must win game against the New York Jets in Week 17. With everything on the line this Sunday at Sun Life Stadium, check out what’s been said around Miami’s locker room as the team prepares for this weekend’s crucial divisional matchup against Gang Green.
On if the Jets have progressed the three games since they’ve played: “I think their quarterback’s playing better. We knew (Chris) Ivory was a good player, he seems to be more productive. Their sack total is down a little bit so they’ve been staying out of the situations we were in the other day. Offensively when you’re in better down and distance, your second down is more manageable, you’ve got a bigger playbook, you have more play action, you have movement passes and those type of things that we were kind of out of. I think they’ve just been doing a better job managing the sticks and playing sound football.”
On what he can take out of the first meeting: “I thought we executed relatively well. Our guys made a couple plays. We broke some tackles especially in the second half. Certainly want to do a better job in the red zone, we kind of went down the field a lot we got a lot of yardage, we need to score more points the second time around. I think we’ve got to take advantage of our field position and the opportunities we get when we’re in the red zone. I thought we moved the ball consistently well but we’ve got to score more.”
On the Jets passing game and what their receivers pose to his team’s secondary: “Yeah, it’s a good group. (David) Nelson is playing well. (He’s) a big guy and seems to be progressing nicely. (Jeremy) Kerley is kind of one of those tough, competitive, smart player (with) good hands, finds a way to get open. And (Santonio) Holmes has got that game-changing type of impactful play ability. It’s a good group. (Kellen) Winslow and (Jeff) Cumberland are doing a nice job at the tight end position. I think they are doing some smart things with the quarterback. He’s playing better”
On what the team did well against the Jets in the first matchup: “I think that was one of our better overall games. In that game, we held them under 100 yards but they had one explosive run, one real long run where we had them stopped at the line of scrimmage and he came out the back door. I can’t recall how long it was, but we did play good run defense in that game. We played good pass defense in that game. It was a game where I think they had 177 total yards of offense. That’s a good day’s work defensively. So we pressured the quarterback. We sacked the quarterback. We got a couple of interceptions. It was a solid overall day, but they are playing a lot better right now than they were a few weeks ago. It seems like they settled in on some of the things they want this quarterback to do, and he’s doing it well. They had a big day, and Cleveland’s defense is a good defense.”
On what he thinks is going to be the biggest challenge against the Jets offense: “Well they are running the football. We felt going into the first game they are a physical running team. They’ve got a good offensive line. They’ve got good running backs. Now they are featuring the quarterback in the run game some running a lot of the similar plays we saw yesterday. We can’t allow them to run the football against us. That is going to be our big challenge.”
On what he sees differently from the team on film compared to when they faced them previously: “We knew going into the first game that they had a good front seven, some good pass rushers upfront. I think we just did a good job of blocking them throughout the game the first time we played them. It seems like they’ve gotten back on track since we’ve played them so it’s going to be a good matchup.”
On how important is making the playoffs to adding a stamp of legitimacy to their season: “Well it’d be nice obviously, but all we can control is this game. We have to go out and play. I think it’s going to be a motivated Jets team coming down. We beat them at home a few weeks ago, and I think they’re going to want to come and do the same thing to us. We’re going to have to be ready to play. What happens from there, we’ll see.”
On if it’s possible for a quarterback to target a specific cornerback, and if he can target Dee Milliner: “Well he’s been playing very well the last couple weeks so you have to give respect to that. Our offense is not so much to pick on a guy, you kind of go through your progressions and if you have a matchup you’ll take it. I don’t think we completely focus on singling out one particular person.”
On why the Dolphins offense was successful against the Jets highly ranked defense in the first game: “We ran the ball very well against them the first time. If you go back and look at it, not too many teams had success running the football. We kind of did in the first game, and it kind of set up the rest of our offense. Our receivers made some plays after the catch, and we had a complete game that first game.”
On how they were able to protect Ryan Tannehill so well in the first game against the Jets: “We just did a really good job pass protecting. I think what set us up for our pass protection game was us running the football. It kind of wore them down in the first half pounding the football against them. In the second half it was easier to pass protect him.”
On what is going to be the biggest challenge against the Jets defense: “They’re very similar in structure to Buffalo’s defense. The defensive coordinator at Buffalo was with the Jets, so structurally there are a lot of similarities. Our biggest challenge is to be able to run the football, we have to be able to run the football effectively in order to be able to throw it efficiently down field. When you become one dimensional which in many ways the question about 12 runs is an accurate one. You become one dimensional and it gets harder and harder. We have to be a balanced offense to be a successful offense and sometimes if you’re really good doing something you can lean that way, but we weren’t real good at throwing or running yesterday so we have to be fairly balanced to be successful.”
On New York’s ability to run the ball: “We know with the game we just played against the Bills that they ran the ball successfully against us, and that’s the Jets’ strength. So we’re expecting them to come out and try to establish the run early. What we’ve got to do is do a good job of stopping the run game, and try to make them one dimensional and throw the ball.”
On how the Jets are playing: “They’re playing better ball right now. I think they’ve won the last two out of three games. They’re a divisional opponent, and they always play us tough. We know what we’re facing. Geno Smith is looking a lot better, and those guys are coming together and playing pretty well so we’re going to have to go out there and play our style of football and do what we do best.”
On Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie: “He’s a good player. He’s been banged up this year but he’s fought through it. I like him as a football player. He’s going to talk, he’s going to get up in your face. But come Sunday none of that really matters.”
On the Jets possibly playing spoiler to Miami’s season: “I’ve been in that position of spoiler before, we’ve all been in that position. It’s a game where you use that as motivation. We kind of understand where they’re coming from, and we can’t allow it to happen.”
On the magnitude of the game against the Jets: “This pretty much is a win or stay home type of game. We’ve got a lot on the line that we’re playing for right now. It’s not in our hands as far as everything else (around the league) that happens, but the best thing we can do is get this win.
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.