Five days after taking one on the chin at Buffalo, the Jets (4-6) will stay in the division and host the AFC East-leading Dolphins (7-3) in the NFL's first Black Friday game. With their 4-3 start in the rearview mirror, the Jets have been outscored by 75-25 in three consecutive losses. As Aaron Rodgers continues to make great strides in his ongoing recovery, HC Robert Saleh changed starting quarterbacks on Monday with Tim Boyle taking command of the offense.
'No Testimony Without a Test'
C.J. Mosley, a team captain, talked early this week about accountability ahead of a critical clash with the division leaders.
"This one hurt – I am not going to lie to you – especially to me," said Mosley of the 26-point defeat last Sunday in Western New York. "We just have to understand the position we are in. I have to understand the position I am in. I wear the Captain on my chest with pride. It has been a while since our defense got exposed like that, so that was tough pill for me to swallow. I wasn't hungry this morning, didn't have any appetite, didn't sleep that good, but this is the challenge that I signed up for and it is a challenge that we signed up for."
What awaits Mosley and the defense is a battle with what, on paper, is the NFL's top offense. The 'Fins are No. 1 in scoring (30.5 pts/g), passing (291 yds/g), and red=-zone efficiency (73.5%) plus their rush offense ranks No. 2 (143 yds/g). The Jets counter with a defense that is No. 3in offensive TDs allowed (17), No. 4 in yards per play (4.7) and No. 5 in red-zone success (41.4%).
"This is a big test for us and there is no testimony without a test, as I have said before," Mosley said. "So, we have to stand up with pride the same way we have been doing as a defense. We have to hold our head up high and be accountable when we take losses like this. We have another team coming in that can score a lot of points and we have to make sure that we have our mind right and be ready to play Friday."
Saleh, who will have Trevor Siemian back up Boyle, believes in the mindset of a team that has endured countless injuries along the offensive line and will start its third QB against Miami. After playing 10 games, Zach Wilson will suit up as the team's emergency third QB.
"I think our group has a lot of confidence," Saleh said. "It is young on offense, very, very young. It has gotten young very, very quickly on the offensive side of the ball."
'Recapturing the Juice and Energy'
After having already been featured in four primetime games, the Jets will join the Dolphins on centerstage in Week 11. The Jets haven't had much to celebrate of late, but Saleh wants his group to find joy in their game.
"The overarching message -- and I will speak for all 32 teams – you have to have fun getting out there and playing and embracing the opportunity to be an NFL player, to have a chance to fulfill our dreams when we were little," said the third-year head coach. "So just for the locker room, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how much you think the world is against you or how much your body hurts, we get to get up, we get to go to meetings, we get to go to practice and we get to go and play in front of hundreds of thousands of people, whether it's on TV or in the stands. So just recapturing the juice and energy that our group is known for, at least around here in our building. Overall, there is still a lot of juice and excitement."
The Jets will need the juice against a Dolphins team has plenty of jump. Miami hasn't won the division since 2008 but it has 1.5-games lead over the Bills. The 'Fins next four games are against opponents with under .500 records, including a pair with the Jets (the teams meet Dec. 17 in South Florida). Playing perhaps behind the Jets' eighth different starting line combination (LT Mekhi Becton remains questionable with an ankle injury), Boyle will make his fourth career start against an ascending defense that has benefited from Jalen Ramsey's return to the lineup. In five games, Ramsey has registered 3 INTs and 3 PDs.
"I think my priority this week is going to be getting the ball out on time, not trying to take sacks," said Boyle, who told reporters he wants to have a "dangerous" mindset. "So, I think just getting the ball in our playmakers' hands, letting them have fun with it, and just keeping us on pace. I want to get down in the red zone and score some points."
Lot of Things Can Happen
How many points will Boyle and the Jets need to pull off the upset? The 'Fins are 2-3 on the road and they are 1-3 when scoring 20 points or fewer. Game-breaker Tyreek Hill, who is on pace for an NFL-record 2,077 receiving yards, was held in check by Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed in two meetings last season although starting QB Tua Tagovailoa missed both of those games.
Seven regular-season games remain for a Jets team, so there is time to get off the mat. During his weekly appearance on the "The Pat McAfee Show,", Rodgers declared the season wasn't over and it wasn't dead. The Jets will be decked out in their Stealth Black uniforms Friday, but they have no intention to let anyone write an obituary on their season.
"There's a lot of things that can happen," said TE Tyler Conklin. "Obviously, nobody wants to hear that right now. We obviously want to put a much better product on the field for fans. They deserve a better product, but we do have seven games left and a lot of football to play. So, as crappy as it feels right now and it does feel like the end of the world a little bit – it's not."