The Jets are looking to snap two-game losing streak Sunday against the Dolphins in a four-week post-bye span in which they've played four different quarterbacks (three starters) and been outscored 175-94 while going 1-4. The struggles, however, have not changed the temperature of the locker room.
"Our group is resilient," Head coach Robert Saleh told reporters Friday. "Knock on wood, I've been fortunate to be around some really cool teams and this group is made of the right stuff. They're able to show up on Wednesday after a loss, shake it off, get back to work and focus on what's most important – that's getting better and everything has been about Miami. Really excited about the work we've put in Wednesday and Thursday. We have Friday and Saturday to finalize everything and then showcase it on Sunday. Feel like their heads are in a good space, they're speaking the right language and the energy in the building has been really good."
The defense has a good matchup, on paper, to climb out of its slump. Since the bye week, the unit has allowed an average of 43 points per game and totaled 7 sacks in four games. In the team's first five games, the Green & White yielded 24.2 ppg and combined for 13 sacks. The defensive line will line up against Miami's O-line that's allowed a league-high 145 QB pressures. The Fins' offense, which ranks 29th in total yards, is led by southpaw second-year QB Tua Tagovailoa, the No. 5 overall pick out of Alabama in 2020.
"The young man is getting better," Saleh said. "He gets the ball to where it needs to go, he's good with his reads, he's got some good playmakers to get it to, they do a really good job with their RPO scheme and they do a really good job taking shots. He has the arm strength to go anywhere on the football field. He has good mobility and he's a young man. He's still getting as many reps as he can, but you can visibly see that he is getting better."
The Dolphins and Cover 0
Miami (3-7) has been riding a defense that features an aggressive Cover 0 scheme, adding an extra rusher while leaving the defensive backfield in man-to-man coverage. It's worked wonders the past two weeks -- the Dolphins started the season 1-7, but have won two straight while yielding a single TD.
"If you show, whether it be in previous film or on that day, on Sunday, that you can't beat Cover 0, then they're going to keep on bringing it," Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said. "It didn't go necessarily I'm guessing the way they wanted it to start this year, but these last three weeks I feel like they've gotten back to their roots."
Over their last three games, the Dolphins gave Buffalo all it could handle until late in the game; then held Houston to three field goals, intercepted QB Tyrod Taylor three times and held the Texans to fewer than 100 yards rushing; last week Miami limited Baltimore to 1 TD, and kept the lid on Lamar Jackson (1 INT, 39 yards rushing).
Miami's approach on defense played into the decision of the Jets' braintrust to start veteran QB Joe Flacco, with Mike White as the backup, on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
"He [Flacco] has played so much ball that the cool part about him is when he steps out on the field, he's seen it all," LaFleur said. "It's Cool Joe, he's been there before, so we expect some good stuff from him.." He added: "The play-calling might be different, but I think it's going to have more to do with Miami than it's going to have to do with Joe being out there."
Though the Dolphins' defense has turned up the heat the past month or so, it has also been vulnerable to explosive plays. Miami has allowed 50 plays of at least 20 yards, which ranks 31st in the league. Its 150 plays of at least 10-plus yards ranks last.
"It goes back to Joe's experience and recognizing coverages pre-snap and knowing exactly where the ball needs to get as quickly as possible to, one, avoid hits, but, two, get the ball where it needs to go in space," Saleh said. "He's a very steadying force, player, just in terms of his experience and knowledge in being able to get the ball to his playmakers."
See the Top Practice Images Leading Up to the Sunday's Game at MetLife Stadium Against the Dolphins
Morgan Moses: 'The Young Thing Is Out of the Way'
On Thursday, rookie running back Michael Carter said that he never really felt like a rookie, saying: "They drafted me to play. There's no red-shirting in the NFL."
The rook's words were music to the ears of veteran offensive lineman Morgan Moses. While much has been made, and rightly so, about the Jets' young roster (the youngest in the NFL), the anomaly is the offensive line -- the "baby" on the line is rookie left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker.
"That's the thing about it, they've been in this league eight weeks now," Moses told team reporter Eric Allen on this week's edition of the "2-Minute Drill." "The young thing is out of the way. We've played enough games to know what to do. Now it's about going out and playing fast and not being hesitant."
Along the O-line, Moses is part of an experienced group -- which includes veterans LT George Fant, C Connor McGovern and RG Greg Van Roten -- that will contend with Miami's aggressive defense.
"I was able to watch Miami on Thursday night against the Ravens, that rookie safety No. 8 [Jevon Holland] makes plays," Moses said. "It's important to stay attuned to what we do and keep moving forward. It's hard-hat week for us, we have to bring a lunch pail and have to find something that each individual can go out there and perform at their best. If we can do that as a team, we can find a win."