Dolphins vs. Jets: Drawing Up a Game Plan for New York

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IOctober 25, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 23:  Kicker Nick Folk #2 (L) of the New York Jets celebrates a game winning kick against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Jets defeated the Dolphins 23-20 in overtime.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

The New York Jets may have missed their opportunity to earn first place in the AFC East last week, but they still have a great shot to put a stranglehold on second place with a win over the Miami Dolphins.

That would put them at 3-1 in the division and 4-4 overall, with two wins over the team that will likely prove to be their biggest competition for second place (sorry, Bills fans).

The game didn't go exactly according to plan when the Jets traveled to SunLife Stadium just five weeks ago, with quarterback Mark Sanchez having to pull off a late drive to send the game to overtime, and then another drive to win the game.

Here's a game plan so that the Jets may not have to rely on late-game heroics from Sanchez once again. 


Test the Deep Half of the Secondary

The New York Jets had success throwing the ball deep against the New England Patriots. Now, granted that was the Patriots serving as air traffic control as they have all season, but the Dolphins have also been kind to opposing quarterbacks. They have given up 23 pass plays of 20 yards or more, which is the 10th-highest total in the NFL through seven weeks.

And they, unlike seven of the other nine teams ahead of them, have only played six games.

The Dolphins pass defense has been admirable thus far this season, especially with their pass rush, but they are still giving up big plays on the back end.

Big plays are often a result of either a breakdown in coverage or a lack of pressure. If a quarterback has more than 3.5 seconds to throw, that is typically a result of a lack of pressure. If the ball is out within that 3.5-second window, it's usually a result of a breakdown in coverage.

The Dolphins have been exposed by both this year, but the lack of talent at safety has been evident since the offseason, and has been exposed through six games.

Rams quarterback Sam Bradford delivered a 65-yard strike to receiver Chris Givens. Dolphins safety Chris Clemons lost his assignment in Cover 2, taking the underneath route instead of following the deepest receiver. With that, Givens easily got behind Clemons on the post pattern to his side of the field.

Safety Reshad Jones chased down the play to prevent the touchdown.

The Jets proved they can expose weaknesses at safety if they are present, and they could have success again if they are able to protect Sanchez long enough for him to take to the skies.

He fared well against them last time around, and although he completed less than 50 percent of his passes, he compiled 306 passing yards on just 21 completions. It took him 45 pass attempts to reach those numbers, but the amount of yards relative to the number of completions is indicative of their success with big plays against the Dolphins last time around.

If the Jets can attack that weakness without sacrificing efficiency, they could pick up the win over the Dolphins. 


Be Effective With the Blitz

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been great not only under pressure, but specifically against a blitz.

We all know how much the Jets love to send extra defenders at the quarterback, but that may not be the best tactic to take against Tannehill.

The Jets had success blitzing Tannehill in their last encounter, allowing him to complete just 5 of 14 passes for 69 yards, but outside of that performance, he has played very well against the blitz. In fact, he threw for 300 yards and completed 17 of 25 passes the very next week against the Cardinals blitz, and compiled 104 passing yards while completing 10 of 12 passes when blitzed in Miami's most recent game against the Rams.

Rex Ryan's blitz worked well in the last meeting, and while that could be the case again this time around, the Jets should think twice about sending the kitchen sink every down given Tannehill's recent string of success against the blitz.

The Jets have blitzed far less since the loss of cornerback Darrelle Revis, and only sent extra rushers after Texans quarterback Matt Schaub on eight of his 28 drop-backs, and on only seven of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's 43 drop-backs.

It will be interesting to see how the Jets opt to attack Tannehill, given their reluctance to blitz over the past few weeks as well as Tannehill's improved performance against the blitz.

Their ability to be effective with it could be the difference in the game. 


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.