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Jets-Dolphins: 5 Storylines

What to Watch For Heading Into Week 9


Something's Gotta Give
The Jets enter the third quarter of their schedule with a 3-5 mark while the Dolphins reached the midway point with a 4-4 record. Both clubs are in need of a change of direction though as the Green & White are on a two-game slide and the 'Fins have lost four of five overall. Todd Bowles believes his group has grown closer from chemistry and camaraderie standpoints and they'll need a win in South Florida to avoid dropping three games under .500 for the first time in 2018.

"Very proud of the way they fought and stayed together. It's one of the first games the entire year that we stayed together as a team and fought collectively," Bowles told reporters following a 24-10 Week 8 loss to the Bears in Chicago. "Execution was not great, obviously, and we have to make more plays and we know that. We're going to stay the course and these guys are going to stay together."

The Book of Eli
In need of a shot in the arm offensively, the Green & White could get just that with the expected return of Eli McGuire. The second-year running back, who injured his foot the first day of training camp, had an impressive spring after rushing for 315 yards and adding 17 receptions his rookie campaign. The Jets struggled to get the ground game on track against the Vikings and the Bears, but the Dolphins have yielded 200 yards on the ground over their past three games. The Jets offense rushed for just 42 yards against Miami in Week 2, but this is a defense that has had gaping holes of late. They are tied for 29th in rush defense, surrendering 143.1 yards a game.

"There is no magic pill. There is no secret. It's defense," said veteran defender Cameron Wake in a Miami Herald article. "Each player has a gap or a man or a zone. At some point the ball is going to get there, to the person, to the man, to the gap, and someone's accountable for that."

Best Images from a Warm Halloween Day at 1 Jets Drive

Prior to the Whistle
In the aftermath of their 24-10 loss to the Bears, the Jets have been red-hot over all the yellow laundry. They've had 18 pre-snap penalties charged against them this season, but seven of them came in Chicago.

"I think the biggest thing for us offensively is just staying in manageable down distances, not getting false starts, not getting penalties," said quarterback Sam Darnold. "I think on our first seven drives we had five penalties in those drives."

"That was probably the worst part of the game," added Bowles. "We do everything all the time and it's a concentration thing on certain guys at certain times. We get that fixed as coaches, they have to fix it as players. The false starts were the most disheartening thing of the whole ball game."

Second Time Around
Dolphins coach Adam Gase has already ruled Ryan Tannehill (shoulder) out of Sunday's action, so backup Brock Osweiler will start his fourth consecutive game for Miami. The 6'7", 240-pounder, in his seventh season out of Arizona State, has been serviceable while connecting on 64% of his passes with six touchdowns and three interceptions. He is less of a run threat than the mobile Tannehill and has struggled with consistency throughout his career.

On the other side of the ledger, Darnold will play an opponent for the second time. He became the youngest quarterback to pass for 300 yards in a game when he recorded 334 against Miami at MetLife Stadium. While McGuire would be a nice addition, wideouts Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson continue to deal with ankle ailments. This Dolphins defense is on the struggle bus, ranking just 30th in sacks (11), 27th in scoring defense (27.3 Yds/G) and 29th on third down (46.3%). Deshaun Watson carved up that Miami secondary in Week 8, completing 80% of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Could they be just the elixir that Darnold and the offense needs to break out of a two-game funk?

Road Heat
Since the beginning of the 2017 season, the Jets are just 2-10 on the road. The Dolphins are 3-1 this season in Miami, but the 'Fins literally got run over by the Lions the last time they played at Hard Rock Stadium as Detroit gained 248 yards on the ground in a 32-21 triumph. After playing in a couple of games on the cold and blustery side, the Jets may appreciate the forecast of 84 degrees and winds of just 12 MPH.

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