The Miami Dolphins will take on the New York Jets in the first-ever Black Friday game at 3pm Eastern Time at the end of this week. This Jets team is miles away from contending with their current offensive output, but they’re still fielding one of the leagues best defenses. The Dolphins have struggled against better defenses on the road and will take on a division foe with a short week of practice on prime time. This will be a massive test for a team still learning to win and a victory by any margin would be huge.
Let’s take a look at what makes this Jets defense so good and what a winning game plan will look like for the Dolphins...
A dangerous defense at all three levels
While they have struggled more over the last couple of weeks, do not underestimate this defense’s ability to take over a football game. The lack of production from their offense is starting to wear them down, but when they’re at their best they can win a game on their own. What makes them so good is that they have playmakers at each level of the defense. First, let’s look at their front seven which has been led by brothers Quinnen and Quincy Williams, CJ Mosely, and edge rushers Jermaine Johnson and Bryce Huff.
Sauce and DJ Reed get most of the attention, but it's the Jets' front seven that really makes their defense go. Great pass rush and sideline to sideline linebackers. pic.twitter.com/L0QR6bojNi— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) November 23, 2023
This defense is built to get after the quarterback and run sideline to sideline. Linebackers Quincy Williams and CJ Mosely are especially impressive on film. The Dolphins have struggled the most against teams with athletic linebackers and a strong interior rush. That might be where the New York Jets are their strongest, so it will be up to Mike McDaniel to put forward a game plan to counter that.
The Jets will want this to be an ugly game, so give them an ugly game. Activate Jeff Wilson and push ahead for three yards a carry all day long. With Rob Hunt back (he’s gotten in limited practices all week), this offensive line is a strong unit. The Jets have a great defensive line, but they gravitate towards athletic, undersized players there. You can play bully ball with them and eventually they’ll start dropping more players in the box giving you the opportunity to take shots if they’re there.
Field goals are ok this week
This is a Jets team that excels at producing interior pressure and covering the middle of the field. The Dolphins have struggled against defenses that do these two things well and this week isn’t likely to be any different. That means their usual abundance of explosive plays may be in short supply. While Tua Tagovailoa is an aggressive passer by nature, it could be a good idea to play just a notch more conservative this week.
The Jets have won four games this year and only one of them was by two scores or more (a ten point victory over the Broncos). Their other three wins were by 3 (Bills), 3 (Giants), and 6 (Eagles) points. With this being a division game, it feels likely that this game will be decided by one score. While things like field position and field goals aren’t usually high on Mike McDaniel’s priorities, this is a week where they should be. Every possession and every point will be important in this game.
Big opportunity for Miami’s defense
While we’ve talked a lot about this New York Jet’s defense, it could be their offense that decides the outcome of this game. We haven’t seen much of Tim Boyle (who will start this game), but their offense is likely to struggle in the same areas under his leadership. The one area they have struggled the most is in pass protection. Let’s see how well they protected Boyle and Wilson last week.
The Jets have a litany of problems on offense, the most obvious being pass protection. Zach Wilson wasn't the guy that could overcome those problems, will Tim Boyle? pic.twitter.com/e6xFFocz56— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) November 23, 2023
Some of these pressures/sacks are on the quarterback, but a lot of them are just their offensive line losing 1 v 1 matchups. Tim Boyle may be able to react quicker and get the ball out faster than Wilson, but he’s also less mobile. I get why Saleh felt the need to make a change. If you watched this previous game against the Bills, their defensive effort fell off late in that contest. He’s in danger of losing this team/locker room and needed some kind of a spark.
With that said, I’m not sure that Tim Boyle is the guy to provide that. It’s been well documented, but Tim Boyle has never really played good football.... ever (well maybe in high school). He has prototypical size and NFL arm strength, he’s just never been able to put that together. He’ll have a tall task ahead of him and this Dolphins pass rush should have a great matchup this Friday. If they can smother the run game, they’ll be head hunting all day.
With the Commanders and Titans coming up next, this Jets game is a big one. If they pull this off, they’ll have a great opportunity to hit double digit wins before Christmas. Their last three games of the season are brutal (Cowboys, Ravens, Bills) so the quicker they can get their postseason birth secured, the better. The Jets defense is good enough that they’re never an easy opponent. This is a week where we don’t need any style points and the Dolphins wont score any in this one. We’re looking at a 17-10 hard fought victory for the traveling Miami Dolphins.