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3 Matchups to Watch: Jets-Dolphins

Adam Gase, Brian Flores Will Go Toe-to-Toe, Green & White Rush D Ranks No. 10 in NFL


Miami Secondary vs. Jets WRs
Even though the Dolphins' rank close to the bottom of the league in most defensive categories, their passing defense is the strength of their unit, allowing an average of 253.6 yards per game. However, Xavien Howard, Miami's best cornerback, was placed on injured reserve earlier this week. The team also acquired Aqib Talib from the Rams before Tuesday's trade deadline, but Talib is also on IR.

"Any time you lose a good player, it's tough, but Brian (Flores) has dealt with that his whole career," Adam Gase said. "Even at New England, guys would go down and they'd get another guy ready to go. Sometimes it was a guy you've never even heard of and all of a sudden he's playing well. He makes it work.

"This defensive staff that we're going against, they're strong. They know exactly how they want to do it and they'll get those guys trained up, whoever has to be in there."

Adam Gase vs. Dolphins Defense
Even though the Jets offense has struggled this season, this weekend's matchup will be their most favorable, statistically speaking. Miami ranks No. 30 in total defense, allowing an average of 420.4 yards per game while yielding an average of 34 points per game, last in the NFL. Additionally, Gase is familiar with the Dolphins' personnel as he was their coach from 2016-18, but 'Fins Flores is familiar with the Jets' playcaller. Flores was the Patriots defensive coordinator when Gase coached the Dolphins.  

"Gase does a very, very good job putting his players in position to make plays," Dolphins HC Brian Flores said. "He tries to attack defenses, defensive schemes, personnel if he feels like there's a matchup he likes. He does a really good job. He's a tough guy to draw up defenses against. This will be a tough test for us."

While QB Sam Darnold has turned the ball over eight times over in his last two games (7 INT, 1 FUM), he'll battle a unit that's last in the NFL with two takeaways this season. Last year, however, Darnold struggled in South Florida, throwing four picks.

"We need to execute," Darnold said. "I say it every week. We need to do what we do in practice and make sure that it translates into the game. If we do that, it'll be just fine."

Dolphins RBs vs. Jets DL
Both the Dolphins run game and the Jets rush defense will look different than what fans are accustomed to seeing on the field. Miami's Week 8 matchup against the Steelers was their first without RB Kenyan Drake, who was traded to the Cardinals, and Sunday's game will be the Green & White's first without DL Leonard Williams, who was officially traded to the Giants Tuesday. The Jets have been solid against the run all season and rank No. 10 in the NFL, allowing an average of 94.9 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry.

"To be honest, man, for all of us, it's about mentality," DL Folorunso Fatukasi said. "Whoever is up, no matter who's up, mentally, they better be ready to go because that's all it is. If you look at all of our lockers, we all have an axe that says, 'keep chopping.' Just keep chopping wood no matter what's going on. That's really all it is."

Against the Jaguars, the Jets allowed a 66-yard run on Leonard Fournette's first carry, but Fournette was held in check the rest of the afternoon and finished with 76 yards on 19 carries. This weekend they'll take on a Miami attack that ranks 30th in rushing offense (65.7 yds/g).

"No matter who's in there, you hear a different name every week of someone who's penetrating the line of scrimmage, causing confusion, getting TFLs," OLB Brandon Copeland said. "Kyle Phillips is going crazy, McLendon, Foley, Jordan Jenkins — all of these guys have had some huge games. At the end of the day, you know what you're going to get from the standard in that room."

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