Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange, Caroline Hendershot and John Pullano will give their responses to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: Why is this Jets-Dolphins matchup going to be different than Week 12?
EA: The Jets (5-8) limped into the first meeting with the Dolphins (9-4), but the shoe is on the other foot this time around. Following a 32-6 loss at Buffalo, the Jets offense was in a funk and HC Robert Saleh went to QB Tim Boyle in the hopes he could provide a spark. In addition to Zach Wilson being out of the lineup, the Jets also played Carter Warren at LT with Mekhi Becton out of the lineup. The Jets defense yielded yards (214) in the first half yet kept the game within striking distance on Brandin Echols' pick-6 and then D.J. Reed's INT followed. But any thought of an upset vanished when Jevon Holland returned Boyle's Hail Mary 99 yards for a TD to make the game 17-6 at halftime. Wilson gets the rock Sunday and he's coming off his best professional game, Becton is back in the lineup, and Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall excelled against Houston while the tight ends provided valuable contributions. The Jets defense is playing great ball and the 'Fins are dealing with injuries along the offensive line plus Tyreek Hill is attempting to fight through an ankle injury. Tua Tagovailoa was sacked 5 times in Monday's loss to the Titans and now he'll see a Jets defense that has some hungry dogs up front and a cornerback trio ready to for Round 2with Hill and Jaylen Waddle. The Jets are confident an upset is possible.
EG: I think the personnel changes will play a factor why Sunday's game will be different, specifically the Dolphins injuries to their offensive line. Former Jets OL Jonotthan Harrison, who signed with the Dolphins earlier this week because of injuries up front, could start at center against his former team. Harrison has not played in a game since 2020 and his last start was with the Green & White in 2019. The rain in the forecast will surely play a role in a different-looking game, but the recent resurgence of the Jets' defense against the run will be a big difference than in Week 12. The Dolphins have the NFL's No. 2 rushing offense and the Jets, over the last two weeks, rank No. 7 in rush defense, allowing an average of 85.5 yards per game. The Green & White ranks No. 4 in yards per rush (3.2). Miami ran for 167 yards on 37 carries (4.5 avg) and 2 touchdowns in the teams' first meeting, but the Jets defense has tightened its screws against its last two opponents, albeit neither were of the caliber of the Dolphins' offense. I think the group feels like it has something to prove and the mix of a not-fully-healthy Tyreek Hill, much less than 100 percent offensive line and rain will lead to a different type of game.
RL: Setting aside the obvious Zach Wilson angle (he didn't play in Week 12), I would anticipate that three or four days of steady South Florida rain, forecast to end with Sunday morning thunderstorms, would turn the Dolphins' grass field into something less than a fast track. I would also anticipate that, as explosive and tough as WR Tyreek Hill is, he will be slightly less explosive if he plays on his ankle sprain from Monday night vs. Tennessee, and a lot less explosive if HC Mike McDaniel and Miami's medical team hold him out. Less speed all around and especially on the Aqua & Coral side could mean fewer points and a defensive battle. And the Jets D, which since the 'Fins game has posted the top back-to-back games in the last 54 seasons by allowing the Falcons and Texans averages of 2.84 yards/play and 8.5 yards/game, should come in less worn down and a more focused on keeping a lid on the dangerous Dolphins. If all those differences occur, it's possible, as the Titans showed in their 1-point road win to rise to 5-8, that the Jets could come home with a different ending after having lost seven of their last eight overall and their last seven at Hard Rock Stadium.
CH: The three biggest factors come down to Zach Wilson, the Jets run defense and Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill. Hill sustained an ankle injury against the Tennessee Titans last week and may be limited for Sunday's matchup. In Week 12, Hill had more than 100 yards receiving and 1 touchdown in the Dolphins 34-13 win over the Jets. Hill leads the NFL with 1,542 receiving yards and is QB Tua Tagovailoa's favorite target, so if he is limited by his injury it could help the Jets' defense. The Jets run defense has also vastly improved since Week 12 when the Dolphins had37 carries for 167 yards, and 2 rushing touchdowns. Since that game, in Weeks 13 and 14, the Jets allowed an average of 85.5 rushing yards, which ranks No. 7 in the NFL, and 3.2 yards per carry (No. 4). Finally, while QB Tim Boyle started in the last matchup, Zach Wilson is back in the lineup coming off the best game of his NFL career. Wilson threw for 301 yards, 2 touchdowns, and had a career-high passer rating of 117.9 last week vs. the Texans. If he can repeat that performance and the defense can continue its strong play against the run, I think this could be an entirely different ball game.
JP: The most obvious reason this week's rematch with Miami will be different than the game in Week 12 is because of the Jets' improvements on offense. After scoring 12 points in the two games, the Jets scored 3 touchdowns and 30 points in the second half of their victory against Houston. The focus now is on the Jets improvements in run defense. When these two teams last met, the Dolphins ran for 167 yards and 4.5 yards per carry. RB Raheem Mostert has 96 yards on the ground and scored 2 of his league-leading 16 rushing touchdowns. When talking to the media Wednesday, Jets DC Jeff Ulbrich told reporters he didn't prepare the team well enough to defend the run. In the two games since the loss to Miami, the Jets have allowed 161 yards rushing and produced 12 tackles for loss. This matchup will be different because the Jets are better suited and more prepared for Miami's high-octane rushing attack.