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Jets vs. Dolphins: 3 things to watch

The Jets are quickly entering must-win mode following their loss at Baltimore this past Sunday.

Geno Smith benched Geno Smith has to play better if the Jets are going to beat Miami on Sunday afternoon.
Credit: Getty Images

The Jets are quickly entering must-win mode following their loss at Baltimore this past Sunday.

They can lose one game of their remaining schedule and still have a decent shot at the playoffs, but if they intend to make the postseason, they can't drop one at home.

Miami has an identical 5-6 record and is also vying for a wild-card spot.

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Three things to watch for ...

1. We've been here before

Simply put, quarterback Geno Smith is costing the Jets games. He's struggling with his basics and the fundamental mechanics of his game and he isn't producing much offense. How bad is it? Smith is without a touchdown pass since Oct. 20, a staggering four full games. What makes matters worse is that he has seven interceptions in that stretch. He completed just 40.9 percent of his passes against the Ravens last Sunday.

“I didn’t do enough, didn’t get the job done. We didn’t score a touchdown, so that’s never good,” Smith said. “Just didn’t do enough. We’ve got to figure out ways to just get better and to put points on the board. It’s pretty simple. We need to score touchdowns and put points on the board.”

In 15 appearances during his rookie season of 2009, Mark Sanchez had three games with a completion percentage below 50 percent. Smith has done that three times in a row. There is a clear regression that goes beyond the usual rookie growing pains.

2. Backend boos

The secondary was expected to have rough patches this year with the loss of All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis and the top-three safeties from last season. The unit continues to give up big plays as it did on Sunday with long passing connections from Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco for 66 yards to Jacoby Jones and 60 yards to Torrey Smith. The Jets are in the bottom third in the league in pass defense and against the likes of Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, the Dolphins' top-two receiving threats, they will have to step up their game.

3. Banding together

One thing head coach Rex Ryan did very well during his first two years with the team was unite the Jets amidst controversy. That chip-on-the-shoulder mentality carried them to consecutive AFC Championship game appearances. But over the past two years, Ryan has been unable to bring the Jets together in the same way and the results on the field have been lackluster. Now he's trying to create an “us against the world” mentality as his team readies for a playoff push.

“I think our team understands that this is about us. That’s what is so good about our room,” Ryan said. “Look, outside expectations, we were ranked 32nd in this league or whatever the heck we were, 33rd, 32-a or something.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.

 
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