The NFL introduces the Black Friday game later today with the Miami Dolphins visiting the New York Jets in the first of the annual home-and-home series games between the AFC East rivals. Miami comes into this game tied for the second-best record in the AFC and in firm control of the AFC East. The Jets are holding on to slim hopes that they will claw their way into the AFC playoff picture and that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be able to return from his Week 1 Achilles injury prior to the end of ther season.
The Jets made a change this week, moving Zach Wilson from the top of the quarterback depth chart to third. In his place, Tim Boyle assumes the role as the team’s starter while Trevor Siemian serves as the primary backup. What should the Dolphins expect from the Jets’ new starting quarterback?
To answer that question, I turned to our friends at Gang Green Nation, SB Nation’s Jets team site. MacGregor Wells was kind enough to give us an insider’s look at Boyle, what went wrong with Wilson, the possibility of Rodgers’ return, where running back Dalvin Cook is, and more.
You can check out my side of the conversation as I answered questions about the Dolphins here:
What went so wrong with Zach Wilson and what should Dolphins fans expect from the Jets offense with Tim Boyle at the helm?
A lot went wrong with Zach Wilson. He probably wasn’t ready to step in as the starter his rookie year, but the Jets had no viable plan other than Wilson. He probably lacked the maturity necessary to lead a team as a rookie, but he was thrust into the role, ready or not. He had issues with mechanics, with pocket presence, with reading defenses … he just wasn’t ready early on. The Jets also did him no favors by failing to build an offensive line to protect him and failing to provide offensive weapons to help him out. The Jets also had too many voices in Wilson’s ear early on. And the Jets have had a catastrophic number of injuries on the offensive line the last two years. So many things have contributed to Wilson’s failures. The bottom line, though, is that you produce in the NFL or you get replaced. For various reasons Wilson did not produce, so he’s been replaced.
What should Dolphins fans expect from Tim Boyle? Honestly, this likely won’t go well for the Jets. As bad as Wilson has been, Boyle has been worse in limited NFL action. He has been a turnover machine. He doesn’t appear to have any plus NFL traits. Boyle probably isn’t even an average NFL backup quarterback. If he has any significant success this season it will surprise me.
As much as the analysts are talking about a possible December return from Aaron Rodgers, is that just a talking point, or is there real expectations that, should the Jets be in postseason contention, Rodgers could still see the field again this year?
It is surprising to me, but Rodgers, from what I can tell, seems to be serious about returning to practice soon, and returning to NFL action sometime in December if the Jets can somehow remain relevant in the playoff race. I suspect we’ll never know for sure how realistic a Rodgers return was, since I don’t expect the Jets to remain relevant. If the Jets fall completely out of contention, I doubt anyone has much interest in Rodgers returning this season.
Breece Hall has struggled to find space for a large portion of the season - he has only topped 56 yards rushing twice this year, in Week 11 when he hit 127 yards against the Buffalo Bills and Week 5 with 177 yards against the Denver Broncos. He has as many games with fewer than 30 rushing yards as he does with games over 30 yards rushing. Is this just the offensive struggles for the Jets, or is there something wrong with Hall? And why is Dalvin Cook not getting more touches?
There’s nothing wrong with Hall. In my opinion Hall is one of the most talented backs in the NFL. But nobody can run behind the Jets offensive line. The offensive line was subpar when it was healthy. As the season has worn on and nearly every starter, as well as multiple backups, have gone down with injuries, the Jets have been reduced to playing practice squad guys and guys signed off the street on the offensive line. This is now the worst offensive line in the NFL. It’s just not possible to have much success running the ball behind this line. So Hall will have occasional big plays when he can find a crease, but more often than not, he will be stuffed before he has even gotten to the line of scrimmage.
Dalvin Cook is not getting more touches because he isn’t very good anymore. Cook has lost much of his explosiveness. Breece Hall is pretty clearly the superior back, so he gets the lion’s share of the touches.
The strength of the Jets is the defense. What are you doing if you are designing an offensive attack to beat New York?
With the loss of Al Woods on the defensive line to injury, the Jets now have no massive run stuffers on the team. Quinnen Williams does a good job against the run, and the linebackers do a decent job against the run, but overall the best way to attack the Jets is to run, run and run some more if you have the talent to do so. The Jets strength on defense lies in the pass rush and, in my opinion, the best trio of starting cornerbacks in the NFL. Focusing your attack on passing to your wide receivers is not the best way to find success. So I would say run the ball a ton, pass to your backs and tight ends more than usual, and try to get guys isolated on the Jets safeties in the passing game. The safeties are the weak links in the Jets pass defense. You can find success if you can get receivers isolated on them.
The line for this game started at seven points in favor of the Dolphins, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. As we have moved into the week, it has expanded and is now sitting at double digits. Would you expect this game to remain close with the Jets’ defense doing everything they can to will the team to a victory, or are you expecting Miami to pull away and cover the spread?
The game could be close if the Jets defense plays one of their best games of the season. It won’t be easy against a high-powered Dolphins attack. The speed at every offensive position can burn a defense at any moment. I have no confidence a Tim Boyle led Jets offense will find much success against the Dolphins. If the Dolphins score 17 points I expect the Jets to have almost no chance to win. Since the Dolphins almost always score 17 points, I expect the Dolphins to win. Will they cover the spread? Good question. I’ll say no, just because double-digit wins against the Jets defense aren’t easy, but I have a low level of confidence in that prediction.
This year did not go according to the Jets plan, beginning four snaps into the season. If the struggles continue, is this year a throwaway with the understanding that losing Rodgers was a major blow the team could not overcome? Or will there be serious consideration to moving on from general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh? Is there concern that the Rodgers era in New York will be all of four snaps?
I don’t think Rodgers has any intention of going out this way. I’m pretty sure he will be back and starting at quarterback for the Jets in 2024, though who knows how much he’ll have left in a season where he turns 41 years old.
I think both Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas are skating on thin ice with their jobs. Another late season collapse by the Jets, which seems pretty likely at this point, may not be survivable. The Jets have not come close to a playoff berth with these guys running the show. They haven’t come close to a winning record in any season. You can’t just keep losing and losing and losing and never have to pay the consequences. If the Jets embarrass themselves and are not competitive the rest of this season, I think the team fires both Douglas and Saleh at the end of the season.