By: Jason Sarney
On Sunday at 4:05 pm EST at Hard Rock Stadium, one of the best rivalries in all of football will kick-off regular season game number 79. In what is a grudge-match style hatred between the teams and fan bases, Miami is looking to extend their recent overall dominance of the Jets, as they have won four of their last five battles against the Northerners.
Although the Jets got the best of the Dolphins last December thanks to a questionable call reversal, New York heads into this game with a 55-52-1 overall record against Miami. Overall, the Jets are looking for their first 2020 win, and Miami will be hoping to reach the .500 mark for the first time in the tenure of 2nd-year head coach, Brian Flores.
The Jets fly to Miami following a headline filled week of off-field news where they jettisoned veteran running back Le’Veon Bell via cut, following unsuccessful trade attempts. This of course following a Jamal Adams early-season deal to Seattle and what seems as a pending reset button push on the quarterback position, as it’s a safe bet to assume Sam Darnold will not be a Jet for his full career or even much longer beyond 2020.
Head Coach Adam Gase is hanging by a thread in New York, and this game could very well be what causes the Franchise to cut ties with the once sought-after football mind. Gase, in his years as an NFL head coach, has done nothing to prove he is worthy of that position.
While in Miami, he tragically misused players like Ryan Tannehill, Jarvis Landry, and Mike Gesicki. Patterns seemed to continue in New York, and tomorrow could be a day that many Dolphin fans have been dreaming of.
When looking at the teams Tale of the Tape, NY enters as the 32nd ranked scoring offense as opposed to Miami’s tied for 12th in that category. Defensively, Miami is ranked 9th in scoring defense as the Jets are tied for 30th. This is a perfect dynamic for Miami, as the offense was clicking on all cylinders last week on the road against the banged-up San Francisco 49ers.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was stellar and threw for 350 yards on 22/28 passing and a trio of touchdowns. Preston Williams logged his 1st 100+ yard receiving game to go with a score himself, and Myles Gaskin found the endzone the first time this year. Miami won last weeks game easily and shockingly, 43-17, which is the best momentum possible for this match-up, which was not even scheduled for Week 6 in the first place.
Thanks to a mid-week re-shuffle of the NFL schedule, the Dolphins should have stayed out West, and a Broncos match-up was originally slated for Sunday. With several games being moved due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this was a gifted, and welcomed change with a home game against a winless team.
The Dolphins head into the contest with a vastly improved offensive line in comparison to 2019, and with the offense playing rather well, this should be another high-output game for this group. Rookie Robert Hunt played as well as injured rookie Austin Jackson in filling in, as fellow rookie Solomon Kindley has been a stud of a player thus far.
I would expect a heavy workload for Myles Gaskin, as there is bulletin board material thanks to those pesky Bell rumors. Nothing will leave a team and fan base comfortable with a “no-signing of a star,” when an up-and-comer goes for 100+ and a TD or two.
Yea – start Gaskin this weekend fantasy owners.
Other intangibles are littered all over this game such as Fitzpatrick facing a former team…well, in all honesty, that’s almost every other week anyway, so I digress. Mainly, in terms of sub-plots, is the emergence of tight end Mike Gesicki on a national level. Dolphin fans have been excited about his development since he was drafted, however as referenced earlier was massively misused by his rookie year coach, Adam Gase.
It is with this chip on his shoulder pads this weekend, that Gesicki could run after the catch angry, and potentially find the endzone again, as he has been making a name for himself as a high volume TD producer. In fact, Gesicki has 7 touchdown receptions over his last 10 games, which is tied for the second-most in the NFL in that span, believe it or not.
It would not shock me for this young star-in-the-making to tally a pair on Sunday, as this is certainly a revenge mindset for the New Jersey kid who in his last home game against the Jets in 2019 saw him catch all six of his targets for 95 yards back when Miami notched their first win of the season.
Defensively, the Dolphins have been a different team in terms of a pass-rush from last season. A virtual non-existent component of the game a year ago, Miami is tied for 7th in the NFL in sacks so far, and in five games, the Dolphins defense has eight takeaways which is tied for 6th in the league.
Playing against veteran Joe Flacco, with Sam Darnold out with a shoulder injury, could lead to more takeaways. Cornerback Xavien Howard has been playing up to the level we have all expected, and since December of 2017, no one in the NFL has more interceptions than his 15. The secondary is fully healthy as well, as Byron Jones seems to be as close to 100% as possible following a groin injury.
Back to the pass-rush, keep an eye out for rising linebacker, Andrew Van Ginkel who is 2nd on the team in sacks with 2.5, two of which coming in consecutive games, so “Rip” has a streak brewing. As mentioned in other articles, do not "sleep" on this soft-spoken, long-haired, Old-School Country music loving Football Player.
In case you are wondering, his favorite song is 'Diggin Up Bones' By Randy Travis.
That’s 100% accurate, as per a source.
AVG, as affectionately referred by to Fin Nation lets his play do the talking, and that should be rather loud on Sunday. Fellow linebacking "Van", Kyle Van Noy has found his sea-legs recently and doing it all for the Dolphins. He currently leads the team with two forced fumbles, is tied for 3rd with two sacks and is 4th with 19 tackles, 15 being solo. Van Noy is currently questionable heading into Sunday, as is defensive end Shaq Lawson, who has 3 sacks so far to lead Miami. Both were limited at practice on Friday.
Regardless of the minor injury report on Miami’s side, there is too much talent finding their strides in Miami to take a backwards step against a fledgling Jets team and franchise, and head coach. DeVante Parker is playing inspired football, and in his last 16 games, has lead the NFL in receiving yards and 4th in touchdowns over that span.
While Miami and New York games are usually heart-attack, nail-bitters, this one should very well not be. If Miami is to be taken seriously, there must be consistent success and production, and Sunday should see a young team on the rise, handily beat a team ready to crash land before even entering the cruising altitude of the season in November.
You can follow Jason on Twitter @OrangeAquaman