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Film Review: The Miami Dolphins Stomp an Overmatched Jets Squad on Black Friday

The Jets defense made it interesting for about 10 or 15 seconds of game time, but that was about it.

Syndication: The Record Chris Pedota, / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Miami Dolphins took this hapless Jets team out to the proverbial woodshed in a 34-13 shellacking on the first-ever Black Friday game. For the first half of this football game, their top-shelf defense kept them within arm’s reach. Though you did see the wind exit their sales (no Black Friday pun intended) after the first half ended with a 99-yard interception return from star safety Jevon Holland. Shockingly, Tim Boyle wasn’t the answer to all the Jet’s problems. The Dolphin’s defense was smothering and the offense was good enough (more on that later) to outclass this Jets team. Let’s break down some of the key elements in this Dolphins victory.

The Play of the Year?

The swing of emotions during the last two minutes of that first half was something else. We saw Tua throw his two worst passes of the day and breathe life into this beleaguered Jets team. The Jets had an opportunity to either catch a touchdown and go into the half with a lead, or draw a penalty and kick a field goal making it a one-point game at the break. With Hail Marys, there aren’t usually too many good things that can happen for a defense.

Well, Jevon Holland found a way to switch that up. Once he caught it as cleanly as he did, you could tell right away that he would have an opportunity to turn this into something. There were two things that made this play happen. First, Holland’s experience as a returner helped him set up blocks and regulate his speed going down the field. Second, so many members of that defense got down there to block for him. Of course one of them was Christian Wilkins who can be seen pancaking Breece Hall (pay that man). For me, this will remain the play of the year for the Dolphins and it will be difficult to replace.

Mistakes & Production on Offense

The first thing that we need to point out is that this offense was very productive against this Jets team. twenty-two first downs (14 through the air), 11 for 16 on 3rd down (68.7%), 395 yards of total offense, and 5.7 yards per play. These are all good numbers, especially when going against a tough Jets defense. In our preview article, we talked about the advantage the Dolphins should have on the ground and they pressed that advantage.

The Dolphins totaled 167 yards on the ground with 37 carries (4.5 average). There were a lot of short 2-3 yard runs in the first half, but when they stuck with their ground game (something Mike has struggled with in the past), it opened up some big runs in the second half. There are two really encouraging things when we look at the film here. Kendall Lamm, Lester Cotton, Connor Williams, Liam Eichenberg, and Kion Smith were the lineup that concluded this game, but they gave no indication that only one starter remained. The other thing is that the run-blocking was crisp all over the field. Receivers, backs, and linemen were moving guys all over the place.

What about the passing game? I know a lot of folks are going to consider this a “bad game” for Tua. The mistakes came at bad times and led to points for the Jets, so I understand people feeling that way. When you turn on the tape and watch each pass though, you have to feel like the good heavily outweighed the bad in this contest.

Tagovailoa and this offense were able to stay in rhythm and consistently move the football for most of the game. While the Jets are vulnerable against the run, they are built perfectly to defend the pass. They have a ton of depth at pass rusher, one of the best defensive backfields in the NFL, and ultra-athletic and instinctive linebackers. Tagovailoa made his two mistakes, but he also had a handful of impressive throws. Per PFF, his 83.7 passing grade was tied for sixth on the week and his three big-time throws were tied for fifth. He had two bad throws, but he played like a top-5 QB against one of the toughest defenses in the NFL... keep doing what you’re doing, Tua.

Final Verdict

A couple of weeks ago there was concern that this Jets team would be able to keep it together and lean on their defense to push for a playoff spot. They are headed in the absolute opposite direction at this point and you have to wonder where they can even go from here. A defense with stars in their prime years is going to waste and the offense’s problems run deeper than quarterback. Can a 40-year-old Aaron Rodgers come back and fix everything? Probably not.

As for the Dolphins, the team is rounding into shape at just the right time. The loss of Jaelan Phillips is brutal (get better soon), but the defense is playing great football at all three levels. Folks that box score scout (tons of them out there) will point to Tua’s diminishing level of play, but they’re dead wrong. He had a good performance against a tough defense in the cold and on the road and has consistently been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this season. If the Dolphins can continue to lean on their running game for these eventual bad-weather games, they have a real shot to go deep into the playoffs. Next up will be the Washington Commanders for what could be a surprisingly challenging rainy afternoon at FedEx field for these Miami Dolphins.