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Jets-Dolphins: Graca's Takeaways

Adams, Copeland and Anderson All Continue to Flash for the Jets Defense


Well, it's back to the drawing board. And there's not a lot of time to do so. The Jets will have to lick their wounds in a hurry after a 20-12 loss to the Dolphins in Sunday's home opener. Here are some takeaways:

Turnovers will always be a critical component of every game. Not only did the Jets force five takeaways in their Week 1 victory in Detroit, but they also converted them into points which contributed to their lopsided win. On Sunday, New York lost the turnover battle to the Dolphins (3-2), but perhaps even more important, failed to capitalize on its opportunities. Miami converted both of its first half takeaways into a pair of touchdowns, which helped the Dolphins race to a 20-0 halftime lead. The Jets were only able to muster a field goal with their chances, not to mention Sam Darnold getting picked off by Xavien Howard in the end zone just one play after Jordan Jenkins recovered a Ryan Tannehill third quarter fumble at the Miami 12-yard line. I have no problem with going for the quick strike in that sequence. After the game, both Darnold and Terrelle Pryor took blame for the INT. Give credit to Howard for making a good play on the ball while keeping his feet in bounds. In my opinion, that ended up being the turning point of the game. 

Act II didn't go as smoothly as Act I did for Sam Darnold, but there were still plenty of things to like from his first introduction to the Jets-Dolphins rivalry. Despite constant pressure and the lack of a steady ground attack, Darnold made several throws which will make Jets fans optimistic that the future of the position is in capable hands for a long while. His ability to escape the pocket, scan the field and fire the ball to a target downfield is perhaps most impressive. To have a "bad" day and still throw for 334 yards is not too shabby. By comparison, take a peek at some other established QBs in the NFL and their struggles thus far. The position appears to be in good hands. It's also apparent early on the chemistry between the rookie QB and Quincy Enunwa. The wide receiver had another strong game Sunday, hauling in 7 grabs for 92 yards and has become Darnold's most frequented target. These two are welcome additions to the offense for 2018 and beyond.

The Jets were fighting an uphill climb all day long when it came to field position. Ten of their 12 possessions began on their own 25-yard line or worse. That is not a recipe for sustained success. Furthermore, they went 0-for-2 in their trips to the red zone, including coming up a yard short when time ran out at the end of the first half. That's 14 points potentially off the scoreboard which could've provided a different outcome to the game. 

I discussed all week how it was tough to get a read on this Dolphins team from their seven-hour plus, delay-filled, Week 1 win over the Titans. Sunday proved this is a tough team capable of causing fits each week. The first difference from last year is the return of Ryan Tannehill to lead the offense. He provided problems all afternoon both with his arm and his legs, something Jay Cutler wasn't capable of doing a year ago. He even outgained the Jets on the ground single-handedly (44-42). He's a good fit to run Adam Gase's system and Miami is now 10-5 with Tannehill at QB since Gase took over. Defensively, their Pro Bowl bookends of Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn will give plenty of QBs and O-lines headaches, so the Jets aren't alone in this category. Kiko Alonso was all over the field as well. No doubt the Jets will be out for some payback come Week 9 in South Beach.

Top Images from Sunday's Clash Against the Dolphins

I thought by and large the defense played a pretty good game. Yes there were some plays they'd like to have back (third-and-19 to Gore), but given the short field they had to work with on some occasions, they held up pretty well. A few individual notables were Jamal Adams, who continues to be very active and is off to a great start in year number two. Through two weeks, he's flashed the playmaking ability that made him the 6th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Brandon Copeland did a nice job subbing for the injured Josh Martin, recording a sack and used his speed to provide some heat on Tannehill. And Henry Anderson has looked like a steal thus far in the offseason trade with the Colts. Look for him to get even more comfortable in the scheme as the season moves forward.

The Jets are right back at it on Thursday night against the Browns. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? On our postgame show Sunday, Jordan Jenkins said it's good from a mental standpoint to play again so soon, but physically they'll be some challenges. I agree with that, and it's also a bit easier getting it out of the way so early in season when the body feels a bit fresher as opposed to later on in the year. I'm not a player, so from my standpoint, I would want to get back out there as soon as possible for the chance to improve upon the prior performance. As for this Browns team, they're 0-1-1 but could easily be 2-0. Personnel-wise, they're much improved from last year's 0-16 squad. The Jets can't just step out on the field and expect to be handed a victory. A fast start would be ideal to get the crowd out of the game early. I would expect to see a hungry, motivated team once that game kicks off Thursday night.

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