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Jets vs. Dolphins preview

The Jets defense tackles Dolphins running back Jay

The Jets defense tackles Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi during the second half of a game at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 24, 2017. Credit: Lee S Weissman

TACKLING A LACK OF TACKLING

You could say the Jets’ run defense hasn’t been there all season. However, in their Week 3 victory over the Dolphins, the Jets held their opponent to a season-low 30-yards. In Sunday’s return game, the Dolphins are coming off a season-high 138 rushing yard performance in an upset victory over the Falcons. The Dolphins were led by running back Jay Ajayi, who rushed for a season-high 130 yards. Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers noted the Dolphins closed the game strong as Ajayi picked up a pair of 18-yard runs on the go-ahead scoring drive.

“That’s the thing, you look at Miami since we played them last, they’re a little more hard-headed,” Rodgers said. “They are determined to get the running game going, and last week that was really key in them winning the game in my opinion. They competed throughout, but when they made up their mind and wanted to run the ball, they did.”

But the Jets’ run defense is coming off a game where it gave up 118 yards rushing to the Patriots. And since that Dolphins game, the Jets allowed 433 rushing yards the last three games. The starters have remained the same for the Jets, so what’s the problem?

Jets’ players say it’s pretty simple, just tackling and reading the keys. As a group, the Jets have the 28th worst rushing defense in the NFL and that needs fixing, like quickly, for Sunday.

“We swarmed to the ball and we gang-tackled some,” Bowles said in comparing the last game against the Dolphins to where the team is now. “It was a while ago. We had some things to clean up (that) we cleaned up that week. We just have to keep getting better.”

SUH WHO?

In the first meeting between the Jets and Dolphins, standout defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh had three tackles and a forced fumble. The Jets weren’t afraid to run between the center and the guard, where of their 34 attempts, 13 were in the middle. Todd Bowles said the running attack was designed to avoid Suh when possible. After that Week 3 game, the Dolphins moved Suh around the line of scrimmage to offset opponents from running away from him. Sunday the Jets will look to control the tempo of the game like they did in the Week 3 victory.

“It gives them the opportunity to control the game from a running the ball standpoint,” Suh said. “Obviously, (they’re) methodical moving down the field where they have short passes, run game, play action, every now and then take big shots. We understand from a defensive perspective that we want to get them off-kilter and shut that down.”

 

CADET’S FRIENDS & FAMILY PLAN

Jets running back Travaris Cadet said he’ll leave at least 20 tickets for friends and family at Hard Rock Stadium. Cadet attended Miami Central High School where he was a dual threat lefty-throwing quarterback/running back.

“We breathe football year-round down there from the time we’re born up until this point,” Cadet said of his hometown. “We take it very seriously. It’s put me in position to help my family and to play on this platform that we all had dreams of playing on. Also, to go back home and see that all the hard work has paid off, even though it’s not a vacation, is a business trip.”

Cadet said he wasn’t a Dolphins fan growing up, though. He rooted for the Falcons mainly because of Michael Vick who was also a left-handed quarterback. His mom, Alisa Davis, wasn’t a Dolphins fan either. Even when her son played for the Saints, she was a fan of the Jets, he said.

54-49-1

Jets’ alltime record against the Dolphins. The Dolphins have scored just 38 more points than the Jets in the series that dates back to 1966.

THE BREAKUP

Defensive end Kony Ealy is the third defensive lineman since 2000 to get ranked in the Top 10 in passes defensed through six weeks. He had four pass breakups, including an interception, in a Week 4 victory over the Jaguars.

JAMAL ADAMS: “BRING IT ON”

In the last two weeks, rookie safety Jamal Adams has allowed three touchdowns, all to tight ends. The Patriots Rob Gronkowski scored twice on Adams last week. On Sunday, Adams will be paired up against Dolphins tight end Julius Thomas who has 21 catches for 108 yards with no touchdowns. And knowing that Adams has struggled against the tight ends, it would appear opposing offenses might target him.

“I mean, hey, bring it on I love a challenge,” Adams said. “I’m a competitor, man, if I mess up I don’t mess up twice. I correct my mistakes and I get better each and every week.”

Adams’ issues with tight ends won’t stop the Jets from putting him out in coverage. He’s still a strong player against the run, tied for third on the team with 29 tackles, and will make plays on the ball in the passing game too as evident with his three passes defensed. Adams is still a rookie and with that comes growing pains.

“I think every week is a learning experience for him,” Todd Bowles said. “His whole rookie season is going to be a learning experience, but he just has to read his keys and do what we ask him to do, and he’s been doing that. Every week he is going to learn something, good and bad. Hopefully it’s not by experience, hopefully it’s by watching someone else on another team, but he’s going to have his experiences all year.”

CONNECTED

For a player who showed up Sept. 5, Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley has developed a strong connection with quarterback Josh McCown. Kerley had connected on 19 consecutive targets before an incompletion on the final play of last week’s loss to the Patriots ended the streak. Kerley, through five games, has caught 95 percent of his passes, the highest percentage rate among receivers in the NFL.

Kerley doesn’t believe it’s a big deal, seeing he’s played in at least seven different offenses in a seven-year career.

“Football is football,” he said. “I’ve been in almost eight different offenses in seven years, all those years they start to mean the same thing and I get in this offense, it’s like nothing new. It’s that quick. It’s my job when that ball is in the air, it’s what I get paid to do, is catch it.”

34.5

The Dolphins defense’s third down conversion rate. Miami’s opponents have converted fewer than 50 percent of their third down plays in four of the five games.

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