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3 Storylines to watch as Jets face Dolphins - Metro US

3 Storylines to watch as Jets face Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins still have their eyes set on the postseason.
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The games don’t matter in the standings for the 2-9 Jets, now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. But a fourth straight year without the postseason needn’t end in disarray or on a sour note for this team as there is still plenty to play for. It just won’t be a Super Bowl.

Jobs are on the line for the Jets, perhaps none more high-profile than head coach Rex Ryan, the heart and soul of this team since 2009. While the Jets haven’t had a winning record since his second season with the team – and to be fair, they were .500 twice in that span including last year – Ryan might be able to redeem the season and perhaps a seventh season in New York with a strong close to the season.

After all, if he can turn this season around with a couple wins, it’d be a tremendous accomplishment and perhaps worthy of one more season in order to right the ship.

At 6-5, the Dolphins are certainly no pushover, but the Steelers team that the Jets beat in Week 10 is a better team. So too were the Packers, Lions and Chiefs, all hard-fought losses for the Jets. The Dolphins are flawed and beatable but so far in 2014, New York has had an impossible time avoiding mistakes and especially turnovers.

Three things to watch when the Jets host the Dolphins:

Jets say yes to Geno

A month ago, it was Michael Vick replacing Geno Smith in the first quarter of what would become a blowout loss to the Bills, pitching in to earn the starting job for the next week. Last Monday night, it was Smith who replaced Vick after a tough first half and he gave the Jets a boost. Smith didn’t lead the offense into the end zone but he was an efficient and tidy 10-for-12 for 89 yards. Not numbers that will get him to Canton, but solid nonetheless. Now with Smith named the starter for this game and likely the rest of the season, he has the chance to win the starting job.

“Well, I’ve always felt like that’s been something that’s been growing, just an overall understanding of the game, our offense, just everything in general,” Smith said. “My complete control of the offense is something that’s continually growing and I’ve got to continue to work at it. I feel a lot more comfortable now than I was maybe a few weeks before. But, obviously, you’ve got to go out there and prove it on the field.”

The Dolphins are fourth in the league in passing defense, a number that could be bettered on Monday night against one of the league’s worst passing attacks.

Will this December be any different?

It seems like every November, the Dolphins might be building a little momentum, perhaps enough for a push into the playoffs. Seems like things begin to click and there is hope in South Florida. But then December rolls around and Miami inevitably begins to lose games that they shouldn’t (such as last year when they lost their final two games, including Week 17 to the Jets). Perhaps this is the year when they can finish strong and get into the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

“I like the way this team has competed really since we’ve started this whole thing. This is the great thing, this is a great opportunity,” head coach Joe Philbin said. “I told them [Thursday], we have a great opportunity, it’s December 1st by the time we kick the ball off in New York. Really good football teams play their best football in December and I’m confident that we are going to play an excellent game up in New York.”

A win on Monday night for the Dolphins would put them in an ideal spot for a wild card push.

Run the ball

The Jets are fifth in the league in rushing offense, a number that might be surprising since their backfield managed just 84 yards on Monday night against the Bills in a 38-3 loss. But the formula for the offense for the rest of the year will have to be the ground game, especially since Geno Smith has shown a certain amount of recklessness with the ball. With Chris Ivory running well this year and Chris Johnson getting into a bit of a rhythm, it’d be ideal for the Jets to get some positive rushing yards early to set the tone.

“Yeah. That’s been the Jets M.O. for the past couple of years or at least since I’ve been here. They’re a downhill running team,” Dolphins defense tackle Jared Odrick said. “They really don’t hide what they do and they really like to do it a lot during the game. It’s definitely a focus for us, regardless of what happened a week before.”

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