In the Jets first matchup with the Dolphins this season in Week 12, DC Jeff Ulbrich's defense did a bang up job against Miami's high-octane offense holding it to 243 yards passing and creating 3 takeaways. In total, the defense allowed 27 points and more 167 yards rushing.
Ulbrich's excited about the rematch and the opportunityfor a bounce-back performance against the leaders of AFC East.
"We did some things well for the explosiveness of their offensive," Ulbrich said about the first game. "I thought we limited the explosives at a decent level, but we can definitely do better in that way. The run game was the stuff that got under me. I didn't coach it well enough or create a plan that was good enough to stop their run game."
Since the defeat, the Jets have turned around their run defense, allowing 161 yards over the last two games. In addition, the unit has produced 12 tackles for loss and 7 sacks over that span.
Since the two teams played last, Miami has had to deal with key injuries. Center Connor Williams sustained a torn ACL in the Dolphins' Monday night loss to the Titans, LT Terron Armstead (knee) and RG Liam Eichenberg (calf) have been listed as DNP the last two daysand RT Austin Jackson (oblique) has been limited.
They have still been able to run the ball effectively averaging 36 points per game and 140.5 rushing yards per game over the last two weeks.
"You're so concerned with their vertical passing game, that it's really hard to devote the necessary resources to the run all the time," Ulbrich said. "So, it's trying to find that balance when you feel like it's run, when there's less chance of them going vertical and devoting the resources. So, it's a give and take and it's a fine line, but I have to give our guys a better opportunity to defend the run at times."
RB Raheem Mostert has ledMiami on the ground. Mostert, in his ninth season, leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns (16) and total touchdowns (18).
Along with Mostert, rookie RB Devon Achane will be back for the third straight week after he missed 5 games with a knee injury. Achane, who has 706 yards from scrimmage and 9 touchdowns in 7 games this season, did not play in the first Jets matchup.
"Man, he's explosive, he's fast, he has good vision, and I don't think he gets enough credit for the violence and the physicality that he runs with," Ulbrich said of Mostert. "So, from the outside looking in, when you talk about the dolphins, we talk about Tyreek Hill, we talk about Waddle, we talk about the explosiveness and speed and the passing game, but don't get it twisted, they are a physical team."
So how does Ulbrich and the Jets defense plan to slow Miami's ground game? For them, it starts with drawing from what they learned in the first matchup and finding the right adjustments.
"You try to create some wrinkles," Ulbrich said. "Obviously some stuff maybe he's not as familiar with, but at the same time, the pre snap stuff is critical, not giving away any information to the quarterback. If you do that, you give yourself a very good opportunity to win."