Dolphins vs. Jets: Can Miami Dolphins Continue to Win Without Ryan Tannehill?

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IOctober 28, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 28: Quarterback Matt Moore #8 of the Miami Dolphins drops back to pass against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on October 28, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

How big of a win was Sunday's 30-9 triumph for the Miami Dolphins over the division rival New York Jets?

That depends on the results of quarterback Ryan Tannehill's injury. The rookie left the game in the first quarter, with what was later called a hyperextended knee.

According to The Palm Beach Post, Tannehill expressed optimism following the game about his status going forward, so he may not be out for long. Either way, the Dolphins are 4-3 and if they keep playing the way they played against the Jets, they won't need much from their offense.

As has been the case for much of the Dolphins season, Sunday's win was owned by the defense, with a bit more help than usual on special teams in this week's win.

There was a 57-yard kick return by special teams ace Marcus Thigpen, but while that helped stem any potential momentum the Jets had been building up to that point, that was far from the most special of the special teams plays.

It was a punter's duel, with both Dolphins punter Brandon Fields and Jets punter Robert Malone booting six punts. Four of Fields' punts landed the Jets inside their own 20-yard line, and five of the Jets' total possessions began inside the 20.

But one of those punts was far bigger than the rest. Dolphins defensive back Jimmy Wilson blocked a punt which was recovered for a touchdown by linebacker Olivier Vernon. On top of that, a Nick Folk field goal try was blocked by Vernon before the second half to keep the Jets off the scoreboard early.

Outside of the rather large assist they got from the special teams performance, the Dolphins defense did what they've done best, getting stops on third down (the Jets went five-for-17, for 29 percent conversions) and in the red zone (one-for-four, 25 percent).

This has been a big play defense all season long, and that unit could carry them to the postseason even without much help from the offense. That's been the case much of the season; through six games, the Dolphins ranked 22nd in scoring offense but seventh in scoring defense.

Is this a style of football the Dolphins can count on to win them games going forward? Well, it's gotten them this far, so why not?

While it might not look like the offense is doing much, they are doing their part. The execution could be better at times, but most importantly, the team is playing complementary football.

They are 4-0 in games where they win the turnover battle; In each of their games, they have edged out their opponent by just one in the turnover column, but they have won four total and three straight that way. 

That's the type of game that Matt Moore can deliver at quarterback, and exactly the type of game he did deliver against the Jets in relief duty for Tannehill.

He's not going to win a game for you on his own, but he's not normally going to blow it for you. 

With the win on Sunday, the Dolphins assured that the whispers about the playoffs are justified. With four very winnable games against the Colts, Titans, Bills and Seahawks coming up on the schedule, the whispers could build into a dull roar by the end of the season.

With a very good chance at the playoffs, the Dolphins would be wise to let Tannehill get back to full health before he gets back on the field.


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.