A lot will be the same about the Jets trip to South Florida to play the Miami Dolphins this afternoon.
The game will be played at Hard Rock Stadium, which is what this multiply named venue in Miami Gardens has been called for the past six years.
The weather will be typical of the area this time of year: Temps around 80, a little cooler than usual but still hot, with storms in the vicinity around kickoff, some humidity, some wind gusts to 15 mph plus.
Aqua and coral jerseys of Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor and Marino will be well represented in the stands, but so will the green and white apparel belonging to Wesley Walker, Joe Klecko and Namath.
But the Jets, in front of their usual healthy contingent of transplanted fans, want something decidedly different out of today's annual visit to the land of sun and fun and gators. They want a win, which would do wonders for first-year head coach Robert Saleh's program.
It would bring the Saleh Jets their fourth win of the season and their first over an AFC East opponent, after the 24-17 home loss to Miami a month ago (with Joe Flacco at QB) plus a home loss to Buffalo and two losses to New England.
It would bring some more balance to their rivalry with the Dolphins dating to the second half of the American Football League's existence in the Sixties has been losing its even-steven character as the Jets have lost their last five games here and nine of their last 11 in the rivalry.
See the Jets Arriving for the Week 15 Game Against the Dolphins
And their first December victory would validate the work being done by all the Jets — players, coaches, front office and more — to build their new foundation and culture heading into the final three games of the 2021 season.
"December football is different," Saleh said of his 3-10 Jets playing the 6-7 'Fins. "In terms of being in the hunt, getting ready to play for a chance to go get into the dance and play for a championship — that is a big deal. And to understand that Miami's in the playoff hunt, they're bringing a different style than we saw a few weeks ago. It's going to be different. And to understand the intensity level and feel that intensity level, capture that intensity level, and embrace it. Because we're going to be in these positions for years to come and we're going to be in December playing meaningful games."
The young Jets will have rookie Zach Wilson at QB and top tackler/leading light C.J. Mosley at LB on defense. And those two will get a good return of key players from the injury list. Rookie RB Michael Carter, who was averaging more than 100 scrimmage yards/game in the five games before he hurt his ankle, will return to the backfield after missing the past three games, as will Tevin Coleman (concussion). RB inactives today who played last week: Ty Johnson and La'Mical Perine.
On the line, Chuma Edoga is active after five weeks on Inured Reserve, which is good timing because LT George Fant, who started all 13 games this season, will sit out with a knee injury.
At TE, both Tyler Kroft (five weeks on IR) and Trevon Wesco (inactive for two games) return.
And defensively, in front of Mosley, the D-line will get the return to action of DL Bryce Huff (six weeks on IR), and behind him they'll regain the contributions of CB/nickel Michael Carter II (missed one game in the concussion protocol). Yet as promising as that sounds about the Green & White personnel, the visitors will also be going without D-linemen Shaq Lawson and Tim Ward, both inactive, as well as DL Folorunso Fatukasi and CB/special-teamer Justin Hardee, both on reserve/COVID.
One more difference that the Jets won't have to make because Miami has made it for them: The Dolphins are wearing their aqua jerseys today, meaning the Jets will be wearing their Spotlight White jerseys and Gotham Green pants. This is only the third time in the last 39 afternoon games at Miami (since 1972) that the Dolphins have worn their "dark" tops, which meant the Jets wore their light-colored jerseys.
These are the Jets' six inactives for this game:
- RB La'Mical Perine
- RB Ty Johnson
- CB Isaiah Dunn
- DL Shaq Lawson
- DL Tim Ward
- T George Fant
And this is the Dolphins' five-player inactive list:
- CB Trill Williams
- S Jevon Holland
- S Will Parks
- TE Adam Shaheen
- DT John Jenkins