The Jets travel to South Florida as a healthy bunch for their final meeting with the Dolphins in 2017. Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson is questionable (shoulder/toe) and rookie tight end Jordan Leggett is out (knee) for this Sunday’s matchup, but the backfield will get a boost as running back Bilal Powell (calf) will return to action after a one-week absence.
"It's always good to have both of us back," Powell said of himself and Matt Forte, who haven't been in the lineup together since Week 3. "We have good running backs in [Travaris] Cadet and Eli [McGuire]. It's something that can keep defenses on their toes when you have running backs that are able to do everything."
Lee Beginning to Flash
Blessed with great athleticism, the game appears to be slowing down for second-year ILB Darron Lee. Following a solid Week 5 effort in Cleveland, his eight tackles paced the club against the Patriots and he added a forced fumble.
"I'm looking on staying on it and making it more natural. I want to build on it, but that's only with the help of my teammates," he said this week. "I can only make the plays that are out there if everyone else is doing their job. I look forward to making more plays going forward."
Currently second on the team with 45 tackles, Lee would like to see the defense improve against the run. The unit currently ranks No. 28 overall and they yielded 4.7 yards per carry in their loss to the Pats. Now with a rematch against the Dolphins on the horizon, can the Jets duplicate the performance they had against Miami RB Jay Ajayi in Week 3? In a 20-6 triumph, Ajayi was limited to 16 yards on 11 carries.
"I guess similar game plan in that aspect, but we just have to stop the run. We didn't really do a good job of that last week, so it's still a work in progress," Lee said. "We still have to execute that and that's our main focus."
The tape reveals Lee displaying a great motor and he is starting to see plays develop earlier. He thinks the entire team is headed in the right direction and he likes the collective mindset of the group.
"Very important and that's the beauty of this game. No one's sulking, no one's hanging their head," he said. "We didn't even talk about last week. We're focused on being 4-3 Sunday evening. That's all we're looking forward to."
Finding the Balance
For the season, the Jets have had QB Josh McCown drop to throw on 59% of their offensive plays. Offensive coordinator John Morton stayed aggressive against the Pats as McCown dropped on 54 occasions and passed for 354 yards. When asked about an ideal split in pass/run ration, Morton said he'd like to be around 60:40.
"I try to be balanced, but the game changes," he said. "It becomes a chess match at times. You see certain things, we're going to run certain plays. I went into that game – the last game – being aggressive and we preached that all week. That was our approach and that changes. We try to run the ball and if certain things don't work, we try other things. Like I said, we're going to do whatever it takes to win the game. If it takes us running the ball a lot, so be it. If it takes us passing the ball a lot, we can do that."
The Jets currently rank No. 26 in scoring offense (18.2 Pts/G), No. 18 in rush offense (105.2 Yds/G) and No. 22 in pass offense (213.5 Yds/G). The Jets rushed for 74 yards against the Patriots while being limited to 3.1 yards per carry, but they could get a jolt by the return of veteran back Powell. Boosted by the play of veteran LBs Rey Maualuga and Lawrence Timmons, the Dolphins have the NFL's fourth-ranked rush defense.
"It's going to be tough. Especially at their place, it's going to be tough," said head coach Todd Bowles. "They play the run very well and they play it with a seven or eight-man box, so either way we're just going to have to grind it out and hope we can break something late."
The Jets signed safety Harold Jones-Quartey to the practice squad and removed running back Jahad Thomas.
Jones-Quartey spent the last two seasons with the Bears and originally signed with the Cardinals after going undrafted in 2015. The 5'11", 210-pounder has totaled 103 tackles, seven pass defenses and two interceptions in his three-year career.