The Miami Dolphins look to get the bad taste of a Week 14 loss to the Tennessee Titans out of their mouth this afternoon as they host the New York Jets as part of the NFL’s Week 15 schedule. Miami beat the Jets in the first half of the annual AFC East rivalry’s home-and-home series, coming out of New York with a 34-13 victory. Can the Dolphins repeat the performance in today’s game.
The Jets are a different team today than just a few weeks ago. At quarterback, the once-benched Zach Wilson is back under center and, based on last week’s performance against the Houston Texans, is ready to prove he is a starting-caliber quarterback. They also appear to be adjusting some of their offensive philosophy, looking to get running back Breece Hall involved in the passing game more.
Just who are the Jets in Week 15? I turned to Gang Green Nation to get a closer look at the Dolphins’ rivals once again. MacGregor Wells was kind enough to sit down for round two of our Dolphins versus Jets conversation for 2023.
You can check out my side of the conversation as I answered questions about the Dolphins here:
Last time we spoke, the Jets had moved on from Zach Wilson, starting Tim Boyle at quarterback. Now, just a few weeks later, Wilson is back at the helm of New York’s offense. He looked sharp last week. What worked so well and do you expect Wilson to be able to sustain that success the rest of the season?
Wilson started to cook last week in the second half when the Jets kind of took the shackles off and let him throw more. In particular, in the second half last week the Jets started throwing on first down, something they have been very reluctant to do all year. That resulted in less people in pass coverage as the defense stacked the box expecting the run. It also meant the defense wasn’t pinning their ears back on the pass rush. The result was Wilson got better looks in the passing game, and he took advantage. He looked as good as I’ve ever seen him last Sunday. Can he sustain that level of play? That’s highly doubtful. Everyone is familiar with a game or two when everything just clicks. Zach had one last week. But those times rarely last. I’d love it if Wilson has finally unlocked the talent the Jets saw in him when they drafted him 2nd overall in 2021, but I am highly skeptical. I do think he’s been better this season than he’s been given credit for. He’s made improvements in his mechanics, his accuracy, his ball placement, his judgments, and his pocket presence. The improvements have been masked by an atrocious offensive line, an nonexistent run game, and zero decent receivers outside of Garrett Wilson. Zach Wilson is better, but I don’t think he’s likely to give any repeat performances like last Sunday the rest of the way this year.
The Jets’ defense is led by their cornerbacks Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed and they averaged just 131.8 passing yards against them this season, the second-best team passing defense in the league. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was able to throw for 243 yards, with wide receivers Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill tallying 114 yards and 102 yards, respectively. What kinds of adjustments would you expect from New York this weekend to limit Miami’s passing attack?
I doubt we’re going to see many big adjustments. The Jets rarely change things up much on defense based on their opponents. The biggest thing the Jets need to do is get a better pass rush on Tua. That limits the time the Jets secondary needs to cover the Dolphins superb receivers. In my opinion the Jets have the best trio of starting cornerbacks in the NFL, but nobody can stay with Waddle and Hill if Tua is given a lot of time. Maybe the Jets blitz more to try to pressure Tua. But that comes with its own set of problems, opening up the middle of the field.
New York’s offensive line has struggled all season, though rookie Joe Tippman seems to be developing nicely at center. Running back Breece Hall has only been averaging 11 carries a game this season, but his receiving targets have jumped in recent weeks, averaging nearly nine targets a game in the last three contests after an average of four targets a game over the first ten weeks. Is this a shift in offensive philosophy, purposely looking to get Hall touches while not relying on run blocking from the offensive line, or is this just a matter of quarterbacks looking to get rid of the ball and Hall being the outlet?
I think you hit the nail on the head. I think the Jets are making a very deliberate effort to get Hall involved more in the passing game and get him the ball in space. The Jets can’t run the ball at all behind their atrocious offensive line, but they can still pass the ball on quick developing plays. The Jets have just two above average weapons on offense: Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall. Wilson has been getting targeted a ton all year, but it took the Jets half the season to realize they desperately needed a second weapon in the passing game. That weapon is Hall.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the line for this game started with Miami favored by 12 points, but has been sliding towards the Jets, currently sitting at 8.5 points. Do you think that 8.5 is an accurate line for this game? How do you expect this game to play out?
There’s a lot of moving parts here. With both teams at full strength and the Dolphins at home I don’t think 8.5 points is giving Miami enough credit against a Jets team that, outside of last week’s anomalous offensive explosion, simply can’t score points. However, the Dolphins are hurting right now, with a bunch of offensive linemen, as well as De’Von Achane, Tyreek Hill and Raheem Mostert all struggling with health issues. I’m not sure who will play and who won’t for the Dolphins on Sunday, but with so many key players banged up on offense, I think it’s fair to wonder just how high-powered this usually prolific Dolphins offense will be. So, yes, under the current circumstances, I think the 8.5 point spread is fair. This may be a pretty low scoring game.
As far as how this game will play out, I think the Jets will probably keep this game closer than the game a few weeks ago, but in the end, the Jets offense probably won’t have enough to win the game.
Other than a healthy Aaron Rodgers, what is the biggest need for the Jets in 2024?
Basically the Jets have major needs at every offensive position. They need a good backup quarterback, two offensive tackles, a guard, several wide receivers, a tight end, and at least one running back. The current Jets offense is severely lacking in talent outside of Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall.
Of all the Jets’ needs, probably the offensive tackle situation is the most dire. Needing two new starting offensive tackles is very rough, since good offensive tackles rarely make it to free agency. They may have to draft two offensive tackles, or rely on at least one of their young guys in house to make a big leap in performance. It’s not a great position for the Jets to be in.