Rejoice Miami fans, the third week of football is upon us. For the Dolphins, it means they will be playing their second game of the season as they fly up north to take on the rival New York Jets. Miami’s opening game against the Chargers was an interesting one. It seemed as if there were just as many positives as negatives, but at least they came away with the win. Miami will need to correct the negatives this coming Sunday and continue with the positives in order to come away with another win. So, let’s take a closer look at some specific points the Fins will need to key in on in order to come away with another victory.
Biggest Defensive Factors:
- Pass defense: Let’s face it, that pass defense was atrocious last week. Phillip Rivers threw for over 300 yards and it seemed like there was no end in sight. To be fair, the defense found a way to limit Rivers to one passing touchdown. However, the fact is this pass defense needs to step things up in their second game against the Jets. If Miami gives up more than 250 passing yards against a mediocre Jets offense, it will be time to panic. This is most likely the biggest aspect of the defense that needs to improve.
- Run defense: On a positive note, the run defense was stellar. This was a pleasant surprise considering Miami had one of the top three worst run defenses last season. The Fins held the Chargers to under 50 rushing yards last week. Considering this was against a potent Charger’s offense, Miami fans should be ecstatic by the turnaround from last year. However, the Jets still have Matt Forte at running back, so Miami shouldn’t take this run game lightly.
- Stephone Anthony: With an ailing Rey Mauluga and a suspended Lawrence Timmons, this is a defense with a thinned-out linebacker group. The Fins addressed the situation by trading for Saints linebacker, Stephone Anthony. Anthony had a solid rookie season in 2015 with 112 tackles, a sack and an interception. That solid start turned into an utter disaster the following year where Anthony only brought in 16 tackles in 2016. Whether it was a fall out in play from Anthony or just another player that was unable to produce in an ailing Saint’s defense, it was in New Orleans’ best interest to move on from the former first-round-pick. Anthony seems excited to be given another chance in Miami. It also seems certain that the young linebacker is already looking at some solid playing time. If he can produce instantly for this linebacking group, he will be well worth the fifth-rounder we gave up to acquire him.
Biggest Offensive Factors:
- Jay Cutler: Cutler came out of his first game with Miami with respectable results. With 230 passing yards, one touchdown and a 101.3 passer rating, Cutler showed that he can flourish in this offense. The biggest thing that Cutler can do right now to continue helping this offense is limiting the turnovers. We saw a few big throws from Cutler that he continuously executed during his time in Chicago. The no-interception game is something new and encouraging from Cutler. If Cutler keeps his big plays up and his turnovers down, this quarterback is going to have a strong season.
- Jay Ajayi: If you’re one of those people who still wonder if Ajayi is truly a top running back in this league, you need to stop being so pessimistic. Despite being a game behind all the other starting running backs, Ajayi currently sits at number 10 in rushing yards. The man is truly a train when running the football. Arm tackles cannot bring him down and even when given over 20 carries, Ajayi shows the same tempo and endurance from beginning to end. Unfortunately, Ajayi is still human as he has been dealing with a knee injury this week. It’s important to have Ajayi healthy for this game. However, it’s just as important to have him healthy for the entire season. Gase should consider limiting Ajayi’s carries this week to make sure his knee issue doesn’t linger into games.
- Offensive Line: When the Chargers game was approaching, all I heard about in terms of the o-line was how the tackles would be dominated by the combination of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Surprisingly, those two didn’t dominate as expected. Ingram did come away with a sack, but all around the o-line played solid. There were multiple runs where the linemen gave Ajayi decent running lanes and Cutler seemed to have some breathing room in the pocket. Though they still need improvements, this o-line may not be as bad as we all thought coming into the season.
As stated before, if the Fins continue to keep the positives going as well as fix the negatives, this team can easily come away with the win on Sunday. All the factors mentioned are not only important for this game but for the entire season. Our secondary might be the team’s weakest group right now. They may be even weaker than a linebacker group that’s missing two starters. Despite these weaknesses, this team looks like it can handle the Jets fairly easily.
Prediction: Dolphins-28 Jets-10