An inside look at Sunday’s Jets-Dolphins Week 15 matchup at Hard Rock Stadium:
Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa vs. Jets front seven
For the first two months of this season, there were rumors about the Dolphins trading for Deshaun Watson and moving on from Tagovailoa at quarterback. But the second-year signal-caller has been much better lately and has the Dolphins rolling.
Tagovailoa has completed 70.9 percent of his passes this season, a single-season Dolphins record and the second-best mark in the NFL this year. He has completed 80 percent or more of his passes in three of his past five starts and is the fourth quarterback since 1950 (Kyler Murray, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning) to have back-to-back games with a completion percentage of 80 percent or better.
“Consistency,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said regarding what stands out about Tagovailoa. “He’s been doing a really good job of getting the ball where it needs to go. He’s doing a good job [making plays] off schedule. … Tua’s consistency has been pretty impressive.”
The Jets’ defensive line had three sacks last week against the Saints but has been up and down this season. The Jets’ 30 sacks is tied for 15th in the NFL. When these two teams met last month, the Jets did not sack Tagovailoa and only had two quarterback hits.
This is going to be an ugly game. The Dolphins are dealing with some COVID issues. The Jets are scuffling on both sides of the ball. Tua Tagovailoa does enough to beat the Jets, and the Dolphins defense gives Zach Wilson fits.
Dolphins 17, Jets 10
Mims the word: Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims has had a sophomore season to forget. He has eight catches for 133 yards this year and has yet to score a touchdown in his career. Last week, Mims had no catches and was benched for the second half after committing penalties on consecutive plays at the end of the second quarter. With Corey Davis and Elijah Moore out, Mims is getting a chance to prove himself and convince the Jets he belongs on the team in 2022.
“I can’t worry about the future,” Mims said this week. “My focus is right now. I’ve got to do what I can right now. I’ve got to just stay hungry. This is an opportunity for myself to go out there and show what I can do, show the world, show myself, show the coaches.”
Here come the reinforcements: The Jets got a bit healthier this week, and that should help against the Dolphins. The headliner returning is running back Michael Carter, who was having a nice rookie season before suffering a high-ankle sprain against the Dolphins a month ago. His return should boost the rushing attack. It also will be helped by Tevin Coleman, who missed last week with a concussion. The Jets are also getting back defensive end Bryce Huff, cornerback Michael Carter II, and tight ends Tyler Kroft and Trevon Wesco.
House of horrors: The Jets have not won a game in South Florida since 2014, Rex Ryan’s final game as Jets coach. They beat the Dolphins on the road in 2015, but that game was in London. They have suffered some crushing losses in Miami in recent years, a few in the final minutes, and last season they were shut out 24-0 in an ugly, ugly game.
The Dolphins lead the all-time series 56-55-1 after winning the past three. Miami has won nine of the past 11 meetings. What was once a rivalry has fizzled with both teams struggling over the past 10 years.
Zach vs. zero: The Dolphins have become famous for their “zero” blitzes this season, in which they blitz their safeties and leave the middle of the field open. Joe Flacco was able to read the Dolphins defense pretty well in the first meeting. It is going to be a challenge for Zach Wilson.
“They do a good job, I think, causing chaos,” Wilson said, “I think they just do a good job of just making you feel like you got to do a lot to beat it. I think it’s going to be an awesome challenge. I’m looking forward to going against it because I think it’s just going to help me be a better quarterback.”