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2016 Miami Dolphins: Reclaiming the AFC East, NY Jets Edition

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The Miami Dolphins are 13-23 in the last 6 years in the AFC East. How can we construct our team in free agency and the draft to match up better with our division rivals? This segment looks at how we can take down the New York Jets.

William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

The "Reclaiming the AFC East" series will delve into our AFC East rivals, and how we can escape building our roster in a vacuum, and measuring up to how our AFC East foes have constructed their rosters. We play the AFC East 38.5% of each season, and it's prudent to see how we stack up: the Dolphins must do better at constructing the roster to capitalize on other AFC East teams' weaknesses and masking their strengths. Today, we'll look at the New York Jets.

The Miami Dolphins lost by a combined 31 points against the New York Jets in 2015 - but one could argue the score did not indicate just how badly we were getting beaten. The Dolphins have not beaten the Jets at home since 2011. 20 vs. 77: that's the amount of rushing attempts each team had in the 2015 series, and I'm excruciatingly confident that Miami Dolphins fans can guess which number we occupied. 4-27. No, that's not the time procrastinating stoners go fill up their bongs, that was our 3rd down conversion rate against the Jets in 2015. Go grab some Tums and check out these stats with me - I can assure you it won't be pretty...

Key Stats in the "Home" Game in Week 4:

  • Total yards: Miami 226, Jets 426
  • 37 minutes and 23 seconds: Jets time of possession
  • 11 Miami rushing attempts vs. 43 Jets rushing attempts
  • 0-12 on 3rd down, 0-4 on 4th down
  • Ryan Tannehill was sacked 3 times, had 2 INT's, and suffered 10 QB hits
  • The Jets blitzed Tannehill on 35 of 48 drop backs. Tannehill was 4 of 22, with 2 INT's, going against blitzes from the secondary. The 22 DB blitzes mark the largest tally of DB blitzes in the last 5 years in the NFL.
  • Chris Ivory had 91 yards after contact, most in the NFL at that point

Key Stats in the Away Game in Week 12:

  • Tannehill was sacked 3 times, hit 9 times, lost a fumble, thew 1 INT, and was 1 of 9 on deep passes
  • 9 Miami rushing attempts vs. 34 Jets rushing attempts
  • Miami was 4-15 on 3rd down, New York was 10-17
  • Chris Ivory had 86 yards after contact

Brandon Marshall combined for 16 catches, 259 yards, and 2 TD's in the 2015 series with the Dolphins. I assume he plays with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder going against his former club, but simply put, he is a mismatch for our defense. Brent Grimes doesn't have the physicality to consistently match up with him - we discussed this issue in the last edition with the Buffalo Bills and Sammy Watkins - and it's imperative we get a bigger bodied CB to match up with Marshall and Watkins. I believe that Tony Lippett fits the bill, but I also believe that new additions from free agency or the draft could take on this role as well. Overall, we couldn't tackle their RB's, we lost time of possession, couldn't run or stop the run, couldn't cover Brandon Marshall, turned the ball over, couldn't convert a 3rd down, and couldn't protect our QB. It made me want to pull my hair out. Time for a beer.

Positional Group Strengths on Offense: WR, RB (soon to change)

Remember that one play where Chris Ivory broke like 9 tackles on his way to a TD? Yeah, me neither.

From what I've seen, it appears Chris Ivory will be allowed to hit the free agent market. He made us look downright silly last year, but I don't anticipate the Jets changing much philosophically on offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick looks to be coming back at QB, has solid boundary weapons in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, and both of which have the size and strength that pose a difficult matchup with our smaller CB's.

Individual talent: James Carpenter and Nick Mangold form a solid duo in the interior OL.

How can we mask their strengths on offense: get some LB's and CB's. This train of thought rides quite nicely alongside the current zeitgeist of Dolphins needs - we are likely to do this anyway. My ultimate dream is to have Tony Lippett take his game to the next level and matchup with Marshall and Watkins. His length and athleticism give him a chance, it'll be a matter of what's between his ears. No, not like how much ear wax he has. Duh. I mean his brain.

Given that they'll likely have a balanced game plan with an opportunistic passing game. The Jets ran for 344 yards in 2 games against the Dolphins in 2015, and we must first and foremost shut down their rushing attack. Whether Ivory does or doesn't come back won't change their propensity to run. The combination of poor run defense by our DT (Mitchell and Phillips) and the poor play of the LB corps in general accounted for our subpar rush defense in 2015 in my opinion. Being able to neutralize the run is gigantic in defeating the NY Jets. A stud muffin LB would sure go a long way in masking the strength of their running game.

Positional Group Strengths on Defense: DL

The Jets run defense is the real deal, and it's no wonder we abandoned the run so quickly. Getting out to early deficits killed the Miami Dolphins as well; it made us one-dimensional, and allowed the Jets to disguise blitzes to get to Tannehill. The only way to minimize this strength is to get improved OL play, call good plays (specifically, weaving in the run to have a "run to set up the pass" game plan, because most NFL teams cannot run against this defense consistently), and for Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the offense be able to adapt to the blitz.

Individual talent: Darrelle Revis and Marcus Gilchrist play at a high level in the secondary.

We need to improve the overall boost in talent and depth on the OL, and I pray that we utilize free agency and/or the 2016 NFL Draft to address this. That will help tremendously in masking the Jets' strength on the DL.

Positional Group Weaknesses on Offense: T, TE

The Jets tackles particularly underperformed last year. Many o' speculation as to what our DE situation will look like - but whoever we have has to be able to get pressure on Fitzpatrick and rush his decision making. If we can get improved DT and LB play through investments in the offseason, we should be able to set the edge against the Jets tackles and force everything to the middle - where our famished-for-blood werewolf of a MLB will be there to devour them up like Halloween candy. Oh wait, I forgot, we don't have one of those. Maybe investing in this particular kind of werewolf would be advantageous? Maybe? Just a little bit?

The Jets lack of a TE doesn't seem to affect their offense that much.

Positional Group Weaknesses on Defense: CB, LB

Aside from Darrelle Revis, the CB play was below-average. An important caveat to adding to the OL is that it gives us a chance for our WR corps to take advantage of their 2nd and 3rd CB's by having more time in the pocket. Getting more out of the TE position, and getting our RB's involved in the passing game will allow us to capitalize on their weakness at LB. I like all of our RB's abilities to catch out of the backfield, and my hope is that play design and timely play calling will highlight some of the mismatches we might receive with one of their LB's in man coverage.

The Jets love to stuff the run and blitz. We must attempt and/or maintain some semblance of balance to take advantage of their positional weaknesses on defense: run to set up the pass. Tannehill will need to be able to fit the ball into some tight windows, and our WR's will need to win one-on-one match ups and get separation. Tannehill to DeVante Parker on the boundary, and Landry in the middle of the field, will be the ultimate X factor in 2016 for our offensive scheme going up against the Jets.

Conclusion

Invest in OL, call better plays, and improve the LB's. Getting the werewolf would be nice, but any vicious animal will do. Lippett, or a new acquisition, will need to match up more effectively with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker on the outside. Slow their DL just enough to pop in some runs, and give Tannehill just a half-second longer to find someone taking advantage of their CB's and LB's. Be ready for the blitz, and don't be scared to blitz!

How do we match up better with the New York Jets? Let's hear your thoughts you dirty scoundrels. No….not those thoughts. The ones about the article. Talk about those other thoughts with Alpha, please.