The record of the team the Jets are playing Sunday doesn’t matter to them. They have their own problems.
Besides, the Jets have only one more victory than the winless Dolphins.
“I don’t disrespect anybody,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “Everybody deserves to be here. You can’t count nobody out no matter what.”
The way the Jets' 1-6 season has gone, they are in no position to feel extra confident or take any team for granted, even if Miami is purposely awful.
The Dolphins gutted their roster to position themselves — AKA tank — to take Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa if the junior declares for the NFL draft. Yet Miami (0-7) is one failed two-point conversion away from having the same record as the Jets.
Here’s what’s remarkable, though, considering the Dolphins' situation: Their offense is better than the Jets' offense, a team trying to win with an offensive-minded head coach that Miami knows well.
Adam Gase is making his return to that city, to play a team he coached the prior three seasons. But he’s not coming back with an ax to grind.
“We’re 1-6 right now,” he said. “We need to figure out a way to win a game this week.”
Indeed, Gase is not returning to Miami on top of the world. He’s in charge of an offense that is 32nd out of 32 teams in just about every meaningful category. The Dolphins are 31st in most of them.
The Jets have scored just seven offensive touchdowns (10 total) and are averaging 11.1 points per game. The Dolphins have gotten in the end zone nine times. Miami, led by former Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, is averaging 11 points.
This could be ugly, or it could be a breakout game for one of the teams. But neither cares how they win, as long as it's a win.
“I’m tired of losing,” Jenkins said. “Everyone else is, too.”
Dolphins first-year coach Brian Flores worked under Bill Belichick the prior 15 seasons, the last eight on defense. It wouldn’t be surprising if Miami tried some of the same blitzes as Belichick did the night quarterback Sam Darnold was “seeing ghosts.”
But the personnel is so much different that Darnold should see a lot of open receivers and running back Le’Veon Bell should see plenty of open running lanes.
The expectation is Bell will be more involved in the offense than he was last week when he had just 12 touches for 35 yards in a loss to Jacksonville. Bell voiced his frustration over his lack of usage to Gase, who acknowledged he needs to get Bell the ball more.
Five backs have run for more than 103 yards against Miami, and all five had their highest rushing game of the season.
“Le'Veon is a great player,” Darnold said. “We need to get him involved, but we also need to do it naturally.”
Darnold, who will wear a splint and some padding over his sprained left thumb, will be looking to bounce back from a second-straight high turnover game. He has seven picks in his last two games. The Dolphins have two interceptions all season.
The Jets’ second-year signal-caller knows he has to do a better job of reading the defense pre-snap against a team that has holes in the secondary. Miami’s best player, cornerback Xavien Howard, is out for the season with a knee injury.
“Yeah, I need to be a lot better there,” Darnold said. “It’s just communicating with the guys, getting set, and we need to start rolling. We need to start being faster at the line of scrimmage and the tempo needs to be a lot better, for sure.”
As bad as the Jets have been, the record of their next six opponents is 6-39. The Jets have an opportunity to at least get their season on track if they execute. But the other teams could be feeling the same way about having the Jets on their schedule.
“We’re 1-6 now. Real men show up,” Jenkins said. “All the talking’s done. You can say whatever you want. Until you back it up, it’s just talk. Just back it up. Get a win. Do the same thing next week. Do the same thing the week after that.”