Week 8 is upon us and I refuse to bore you with hot sauce puns.
But, make no mistake, week 8 is a must win for the Jets in an AFC Race that is up for grabs midway through the season. Going into the bye-week at 4-4 would be quite the feat considering how decimated they are by injuries and their strength of schedule.
If, before the season started, you told me we would lose DarrelleRevis and Santonio Holmes after 4 games and we’d be 4-4 after 8 games, I would have told you that you’re crazy. Well, that is the scenario looming on this Jets squad as their bye-week approaches.
3-5 would be nearly devastating and 4-4 would be promising. It’s truly amazing what one game means in this league.The Jets are coming off of a pretty good performance in which they gave the game in Foxboro away to the hated Patriots. They put that game behind them early and began focusing on the Dolphins. The game has drawn national attention due to trash-talking on both sides, most recently with Dolphins center Mike Pouncey calling Aaron Maybin “a joke” and referring to Maybin as “one of the biggest busts in NFL history”. Yes, it’s important, and it’s also personal.
But, we’ll keep it on the field and here are some of my keys to the game for the Jets.
Contain Reggie Bush
Yes, it’s a repeat from their first meeting in week 3 but nothing changes. The Jets have been struggling to stop the run since game 1, ranking 30th after 7 weeks and giving up 147.7 yds per game on the ground. They have been better as of late but they were against mediocre running backs. Bush has only been averaging 2.7 yards per carry since his first meeting with the Jets but expect him to be extra motivated this Sunday.
Pressure Ryan Tannehill
Apart from death and taxes, another thing that is certain in life is if you hit a rookie quarterback a few times, he can be pressured into making mistakes. Tannehill has been having a decent year for the Dolphins but has had trouble finding the end zone, throwing only 4 touchdowns against 6 interceptions with a 76.5 quarterback rating so far this season.
This is another repeat of my week 3 preview, Tannehill played well but if you remember, he threw a costly pick-6 to LaRon Landry which helped the Jets escape Miami with the win.
Protect Mark Sanchez
The Dolphins front seven is no joke and I expect right tackle Austin Howard to have his work cut out for him this week. Cameron Wake comes in with 6.5 sacks to lead the Dolphins. Expect him to be lined up across from Howard early and often. Here’s an impressive stat: the Dolphins front four has accounted for 15 for their 18 total sacks this season, including 4 sacks by their defensive tackles.
That kind of pressure in the middle can derail an offense. If the Jets want plays down the field like they did against New England, the offensive line will need to step up to the challenge on Sunday.
Run the rock
The Jets ground game has picked up as of late but still has a long way to go. Shonn Greene is the 16th best runner in the league if you go by yards per game. The Jets as a team are 14th in the league with a 110 yds per game average.
Joe McKnight is banged up but he’s averaging 6.6 yds per carry so far this season. He’s reportedly feeling better, expect him to get some touches as the game wears on. The Dolphins aren’t very giving in the yards on the ground department but it’s crucial for the success of the Jets offense to be able to set up the play action pass.
The Rise of Jeremy Kerley
Jeremy Kerley has emerged as a legitimate weapon for quarterback Mark Sanchez. Kerley ranks 22nd in the league for yardage among wide receivers (435 yds) and ranks 37th in receptions (25) going into week 8. Kerley has 9 catches of 20 yards or more, which is good enough for 6th in the NFL, tied with Anquan Boldin and Brandon Marshall. Not bad for a 5’9″ second year wide receiver out of TCU.
He makes the tough catch on the side line and over the middle. Plus, he’s a dual threat, handling punt return duties as well. He needs to be involved to pick up the slack left by Santonio Holmes who torched the Dolphins for 9 rec, 147 yds in their first outing.
Draw me a screen, please
The Jets are notorious for having issues running screen plays. But, there is two things that can fix an over-pursuing pass rush like the Dolphins have, draw plays and screens. I would utilize Joe McKnight for both because it requires speed to hit the open hole on draw plays and a shifty back to cut and go on screen plays. Look for McKnight to get quality time if the Jets want to handle the Dolphins pass rush.
Prediction: Jets 28 Dolphins 20
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