Jets vs. Dolphins: 3 things to watch
In his fourth year with the team, head coach Rex Ryan has never swept the Dolphins. He’ll look to reverse that trend on Sunday.
A Week 3 overtime win in Miami was important for the Jets, much like this game is a necessity if they want to make the playoffs. The Dolphins come off a bye week, but are winners of their last two games and hold a 3-3 record. At 3-4, the Jets have a bye next week and a win would make their mini-vacation that much better.
Three things to watch for …
1. He’s king of the ’Hill
There haven’t been the ups and downs many predicted for Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Since losing to the Jets in Week 3, Tannehill has been tremendous. He has completed 66.6 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. The Dolphins have won twice in that three-game stretch, due in large part to Tannehill’s acclimation to the league and making intelligent passes.
“I feel more confident. I think that myself, as our offense, we’ve gotten better every week. [We] haven’t been perfect. We’ve learned and gotten better every week — just small things that have gotten cleaner throughout the time that we’ve been together,” Tannehill said. “The last six weeks have been huge for us an offense and as a team, just learning from our mistakes and moving forward.”
A big part to his success has been offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who was his head coach in college at Texas A&M. If the Jets want to stop Tannehill, they need to get to him and create some pressure. In Miami’s two losses this season in addition to the Jets, he’s been sacked a combined six times. The constant pressure contributed to five total interceptions in those two games.
2. Cam is awake
Dolphins linebacker Cameron Wake has been a terror the past three games after starting slowly. He is a major reason why his team entered the bye last week with consecutive wins. In those three games, Wake has 6 1/2 sacks and 13 tackles.
“We’ve been impressed with the way he’s played against the run. We’ve liked the pursuit that he displays on every single play,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “He plays with a level of toughness that some elite pass rushers might not always display. It’s been fun watching him. When a guy works as hard as he does, you’re happy to see him have success.”
At his current pace, Wake is set to eclipse his personal best of 14 sacks set in 2010 when he was an All-Pro.
3. It’s must-win for the Jets
Make no mistakes about it, Week 8 is a must-win for the Jets — no ifs, ands or buts. The Jets are 3-4 entering the game, but two of those losses were against the Texans and Patriots, considered the best teams in the AFC. Those losses came by a combined nine points, which leads head coach Rex Ryan to think his team is close to being among the best in the conference.
“I don’t think it’s that huge at all,” Ryan said of the gap. “We were down 10 points and came back on the road against New England. We’re right there. I don’t think that there is that big of a gap. Certainly, I think we’re getting better. I think that there is still room for us to improve in all facets of our game, with the exception of our kicker. I think he’s been perfect. We think we can get better in a lot of areas. That’s really making me confident.”
The good news for the Jets is that their next seven games, including Sunday, are very winnable with a combined 21-25 record for their opponents. They could be playoff bound with five or six more wins.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.