NFL Game Scripts Week 6: New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins

With the Miami Dolphins starting to find some momentum, they will be looking to notch another win against the hapless New York Jets. The Jets, however, are likely to be one of the next teams that looks to fire their Head Coach, resulting in players needing to show their talents as something to build around. For the Dolphins, another win would give them postseason hope, whereas the Jets are trying to avoid a winless season.

Miami Dolphins Offense vs. New York Jets Defense

The Run Game

New York Jets Miami Dolphins
Sep 24, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) looks to hand the ball off to running back Myles Gaskin (37) against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

With RB Myles Gaskin firmly established as the lead back, Miami will rotate Matt Breida in as well as some snaps for Lyn Bowden Jr. The latter two are more frequently used for passing downs, although Gaskin also is used for passes. With no extra blockers, the Dolphins create uncertainty for defenses by attacking both the inside and outside.

Gaskin will mostly be run at the Tackles, where he will use lateral movement to find holes, with some cutback and counter runs based on how the defense is aligned. Miami will aim to have Gaskin get to the outside more than through the middle, especially as that is where the Jets are more vulnerable. Although they won’t abandon runs between the Tackles, they will increasingly use toss and pitch plays to get him into space, as well as a pulling a Guard at times to break contain defenses on the edge. Breida will see some snaps as a rusher, including draws up the middle, to further open up more options in the passing game in the second half, as the Jets are forced to account for him as a rusher as well as a receiver.

The Jets will primarily use their three-man DL to absorb double teams from the Center and OGs, leaving the ILBs to focus on the B-gaps. The OLBs will then each work on the outside of the OTs, trying to force Gaskin to remain in the middle of the field. At times the DL will slide over to the gaps, bringing one of the LBs in to take the remaining gap, resulting in some twists and stunts to get pressure through the middle and try and make tackles for a loss. On most plays, a Safety will also be among the LBs as well, allowing them to get out to the flat if Gaskin or Breida are given a toss or pass to the outside. Although they have been exposed on runs to the outside this season, the Jets will continue to try and use defenders to contain the RBs and keep them inside, but at the risk of leaving receivers open downfield.

The Passing Game

Miami usually use 11 personnel, but vary that sometimes to use either two TEs or no RBs, and can also go with an empty backfield and have move TE Mike Gesicki to further explore defensive weaknesses. WR DeVante Parker stays on the outside, mostly running downfield routes with some slants, while their other WRs are used in different ways. Preston Williams is also used on vertical routes with some comebacks and curls, while WRs Isaiah Ford and Jakeem Grant run intermediate crossing and slant routes to get behind the LBs. With Parker and Gesicki drawing attention over the middle and downfield, it frees up the other players on the outside with shorter routes and underneath the LBs for chunk yardage.

Parker will be targeted in the first quarter on slants and fade routes, while Ford and Grant are also used over the middle on in routes and slants as well. A few deeper shots to Williams and Parker will also be used, before Gesicki starts running deeper routes as well, working to the outside when he lines up next to the OL, or crossing the field out of the slot. In the second quarter, a few RB and WR screens will be used as well, before Williams and Grant or Ford are used on the back side on slants and curls. In the second half, the Dolphins will continue similar approaches to what they do in the first, especially if they haven’t had too much resistance from the Jets’ secondary. The RBs will see some slants and curls on shorter routes, mostly on 2nd and 3rd down, but the focus of the aerial attack will be Gesicki, Williams and Parker downfield, with Grant and Ford over the middle and on shorter routes.

The Jets will either double team Parker with Safety Marcus Maye over the top, or allow CB Pierre Desir to try and hold his own early on. If Desir has success, the Jets can then keep a Safety closer to the line of scrimmage to defend the RBs in the pass ad ground game. However, given the Dolphins’ preference for 3WR sets, the Jets could be forced into nickel formation instead. Brian Poole will mostly handle slot duties, with Safety Bradley McDougald or CB Quincy Wilson tasked with matching up with Gesicki. In the second half, the Jets likely instead shift to using LBs Neville Hewitt and Tarell Basham in zone coverage over the middle, with a Safety shaded to one side and another in the middle of the field. From this formation, the Jets can then cover Gesicki and the slot receiver with a LB on short routes, with an extra Safety ready to track whichever one goes deeper. The other Safety will then slide towards Parker as well, allowing the inside receivers to head towards their side also.

What should we expect to see on Sunday?

Miami will focus on running often early in the game, but will use levels and dagger passing concepts to have downfield options and targets over the middle to force the LBs to back off. As the game progresses, the Dolphins will be happy to take more shorter passes with a few deep throws still, and if they have a lead will use Gaskin to run up the middle and chew the clock. The Jets will bring a Safety towards the line to address Gaskin, but will need to use an extra DB most of the time to continue lining up in man coverage. Although they will start to use LBs in zone coverage more as the game goes on, the Jets could be forced to keep extra Safety help on the outside, exposing them to the slot receiver and TE on intermediate routes behind the LBs over the middle.

New York Jets Offense vs. Miami Dolphins Defense

The Run Game

The Jets haven’t had much to cheer about on offense, especially on the ground. After releasing RB Le’Veon Bell, RBs Frank Gore and La’Mical Perine will handle the bulk of the work. Gore mostly sees work as a physical runner up the middle, with Perine as a shiftier runner on the inside and outside, as well as in more of a receiving role than Gore. With QB Sam Darnold likely to be out for this game too, it further restricts what the Jets can do on the ground, as backup Joe Flacco has never been a mobile QB.

Gore will be tasked with trying to break tackles up the middle, as well as provide extra blocking for Flacco. Perine will provide a change of pace, and although he will see some Dives and Blasts up the middle as well, will be given more chances on the outside with toss, stretch and passes to the flat to supplement the rushing game. With the Jets likely to be playing from behind by the second half, neither Gore or Perine will see much as much work as a rusher, and will instead be used to set up fake handoffs for short releases underneath, and on draw plays too when the Dolphins drop defenders back to defend the pass.

Miami needs to prioritise shutting the run down early to further force the Jets to abandon it, but will need to continue being prepared for it in the second half. The Dolphins disguise their rush by bringing 5 players to the line, and varying who continues to attack the OL. The LBs and DL will each at times drop back, allowing them to matchup different players with the OL and attack different points of the line. LBs Jerome Baker and Kyle Van Noy will mostly drop back to defend the run in case Gore or Perine gets to the second level. With the interior of the line being stuffed with different players, especially Raekwon Davis and Davon Godchaux expected to create rushing lanes for the LBs to shoot the middle, the Jets will look to the outside more often, where Safety Eric Rowe will also play downfield often to close these spaces down. As the game progresses, Miami will become more aggressive in blitzing, keeping their LBs between the hashes to track the RB in case they can escape the backfield as a rusher or receiver.

The Passing Game

The Jets had just 162 passing yards in Week 5 against the Cardinals, with 116 of those to WR Jamison Crowder. Unless their OL can hold blocks longer, they will struggle to amass more than 200 air yards again in this one, as they lack weapons that can separate downfield. With Crowder running a wide range of routes to the outside and over the middle on short, intermediate and deep routes, the Jets need someone else to make plays with the space created. TE Chris Herndon mostly runs and in and out 7-routes, and should start to be moved more prior to the snap to create extra space between the LBs. WR Breshad Perriman will mostly run deep vertical routes, with the other WRs, Jeff Smith and Braxton Berrios, running shorter out and slant routes. Although Perine will see some work as a check down option, the Jets will struggle to have a second threat that can exploit the weak spots in Miami’s secondary.

Crowder and Perriman will be used on deeper routes throughout the first half, and should be stacked to one side to create an underneath receiver that draws in extra coverage or boxes out the CB for a clear passing lane. With this, Herndon needs to be used on out routes to the sideline, but should start to have more complex routes with cutbacks and double moves to try and get some space between him and the defender. As the game progresses, Berrios and Smith will occasionally be sent deeper downfield, leaving Crowder to work the middle of the field, and should have some mesh routes with Herndon as well, so that the Dolphins have to bring their Safeties up, leaving space downfield, or give Herndon and Crowder single coverage. A few WR and RB screens will be used in the first half, but as they fall further behind, the Jets will try and attack deep more. This will only serve to further their pain, as the OL will struggle to protect Flacco for long enough for the receivers to get open and complete their routes.

As stated above, Miami will disguise their blitzes with stunts and twists by having five players line up along the line, and then dropping one or two in coverage while the other LBs blitz through the middle. CB Xavien Howard will take the outside receiver in single coverage, with Safety Bobby McCain mostly playing single high coverage. Although the Jets will mostly use 3WR sets, the Dolphins will stay in their 3-4 defense often, with LBs Shaq Lawson and Jerome Baker in coverage against the RB, and Safety Rowe against Herndon. With a constant pass rush, the Dolphins should be able to bring Flacco down often, as well as get to him before the routes develop downfield.

What should we expect to see on Sunday?

The Jets will try to run the ball early, and will increase Perine’s and Gore’s runs to the outside, before reducing their run game and relying on short passes to replace it. Perriman will be a constant deep receiver, with Crowder and Herndon mostly over the middle on intermediate routes, and at times working the sideline to win contested catches. The RBs will provide an extra blocker and late release underneath, but won’t be able to get a new set of downs often as a receiver. The Dolphins will disguise their blitzes and coverage by alternating how their front seven line up, and relying on their man coverage on the outside, allowing them to double Crowder or Herndon over the middle.

Owen Ravenna

NFL Analyst