The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Dolphins v. Jets Week 12, 2020

Miami Dolphins New York Jets NFL Week 12 2020
Credit Miami Herald/Charles Trainor, Jr.

The Miami Dolphins came into New Jersey still smarting from the beating the Broncos gave them in Mile High. Coach Flores was irritated all week in having to deal with quarterback questions from the media even though he is the one who created the controversy. Tua was then ruled out of the game at the last moment. Luckily, the 0-10 Jets were up next and the perfect antidote to what was ailing the Dolphins. Let’s go ahead and hit The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from this Week 12 contest.

The Good

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick got the news late in the week that he would be starting against the New York Jets. Thankfully, Fitzmagic showed up instead of Fitztragic. Fitzpatrick was not spectacular, but he did turn in a solid job at quarterback. Fitzpatrick completed 24/39 passes for 257 yards, 2TDs, 0 INTs, and a completion percentage of 61%. This yielded a quarterback rating of 97.9.

The problem is that Fitzpatrick never got any real consistency for the offense. The Miami Dolphins offense had eleven possessions. Four possessions ended in a punt. Two of those that ended in punts were three and outs. Two possessions got bogged down and ended in long-range field goals.

Fitzpatrick also got lucky on a few passes. One pass in the 1st quarter could have easily gotten picked off. It was a 3rd down and 2 yards to go play where Marcus May nearly comes down with the interception. Having said that, in the end, Fitzpatrick did avoid the costly interceptions and managed to do just enough to secure the win for the Miami Dolphins.

Mike Gesicki’s Touchdown

Gesicki had a pretty quiet game with just two catches for 35 yards and 1 TD. However, that one touchdown? Wow, it was an absolute beauty. There is no doubt that Gesicki has talent. There has to be a way to get Gesicki involved in the offense on a more consistent basis.

DeVante Parker

DeVante Parker had his best game of the season. Parker had 8 catches for 119 yards. The fact is that Fitzpatrick understands Parker’s strength and trusts Parker more than Tua does. Fitzpatrick knows that Parker’s biggest strength is high pointing the defender and coming down with the 50-50 ball. Because of this, Fitzpatrick is far more likely to throw the ball to Parker in situations like this than Tua has been during his starts.

It is vitally important that when Tua is back under center that he trusts Parker and gets him more involved in the offense. Parker remains the only real weapon for the Miami Dolphins offense.

Pass Defense

The Miami Dolphins’ pass defense showed up early and often. The Dolphins limited the Jets to a mere 173 yards of passing offense and forced two interceptions. Sam Darnold got a few nice passes off during the day. But, for the vast majority of the game, the Dolphins made Darnold look helpless and ineffective.

The Dolphins get interceptions from Nik Needham and Xavien Howard. The Dolphins also 10 passes defended. The Dolphins’ pass rush was also ferocious. The Miami Dolphins sacked Darnold four times and registered seven quarterback pressures. Darnold did not look comfortable in the pocket for much of the game.

Run Defense

Frank Gore (It’s all about the U, baby!) managed to gain 60 yards rushing in the first half. However, the Miami Dolphins defense buckled down and limited Gore to just 14 yards rushing. As a team, the Jets only managed 23 rushes for 87 yards for just 3.7 yards per carry. The Jets obviously do not have the rushing attack of the Broncos. But, it was still nice to see the Miami Dolphins’ defense improve in their run defense. It is important for their confidence going forward through the tough stretch of games ahead of them.

Xavien Howard

Howard just keeps racking up the interceptions. The Dolphins were leading 20-3 in the 4th quarter with 6:27 left in the game when Howard picked off Darnold. Howard now leads all players in the NFL with seven interceptions. Howard is a beast and is a huge reason why Miami’s pass defense is so successful.

Fourth Down Defense

The Dolphins were leading just 13-3 in the 4th quarter with 13:28 left. Patrick Laird had just fumbled the ball and the Jets recovered the fumble and returned it to the Miami 26. Most Dolphins fans felt that sinking feeling deep in their stomach as it looked like the Jets were primed to score a touchdown and make this a close game in the 4th quarter.

The Jets were at the Miami 17-yard line and decided to go for it on a 4th and 1. What happened was old school punished football. Landon Roberts blasted through the Jets offensive line and stuffed Gore for a one-yard loss. This was a massive play. If the Jets had gotten the first down they would have been in the red zone and ready for a touchdown. If the Jets scored then the game would have been the Dolphins leading by just 13-10.

Jason Sanders

Sanders continues to be a deadly assassin. I have already compared Sanders to Bullseye. This time I will say Sanders is the NFL’s version of Hawkeye. The dude just does not miss. Sanders made a 54-yard field goal and later a 51-yard field goal. Sanders has now made ten straight field goals from over 50. Amazing.

The Bad

Scoring

The Jets came Into this Week 12 showdown allowing an average of 30 points per game. However, the Dolphins’ anemic offense could only manage 30 points. That is unacceptable. If the Miami Dolphins are to have any success in December then they have to figure out a way to get more production out of the offense. It is not sustainable to rely on the defense to win every single game on their own.

1st quarter offense

Coming into the game, Miami was ranked first in the NFL in point differential in the first quarters of games played. Conversely, the Jets were ranked last in the NFL in point differential in the first quarter. Yet, the first quarter ended in this Week 12 contest with the Jets and Dolphins tied at 3-3. Miami must start out strong to build an early lead and put pressure on opposing offenses to throw against the Miami defense rather than pounding on them with the run.

Oh, yeah, there was also that moment in the first quarter where the Miami Dolphins lined up to go for it on a 4th down and 2 from the Jets 38-yard line. The Jets were leading 3-0. Coach Flores was looking to jumpstart his lackluster offense. Unfortunately, Miami got hit with a twelve men on the field penalty and had to end up punting the ball. This type of boneheaded play will result in a loss against real NFL teams not named the Jets.

Offensive Line

Miami’s offensive line was awful. Again. It does not matter if Tua is behind center or Fitzpatrick. The result is the same. The Miami quarterback gets killed. The Dolphins offensive line was a sieve in pass protection and allowed three sacks and nine quarterback hits.

Fitzpatrick was hurried and harassed for much of the day. The worst moment was in the third quarter on a 3rd and 10 play. The Jets got pressure right up the middle and blasted Fitzpatrick causing him to fumble the ball. It was brutal.

Miami’s offensive line did not do much better run blocking. The Dolphins had trouble establishing a consistent and successful running attack.

The Ugly

The Jets Final Drive At The End Of The First Half

Even though the Dolphins’ defense earned high scores for much of the game the end of the first half was not a stellar moment for Miami’s defense. The Jets got the ball on their 7-yard line. The Jets proceeded to bully the Dolphins with a 12 play drive that went from their 7-yard line to Miami’s 11-yard line. Frank Gore rushed four times for 32 yards for an average of 8 yards per carry. It was brutal. Flashbacks of the Broncos mauling the Dolphins defense came flooding back.

The Dolphins were lucky that there were only two seconds left in the half and the Jets had to go for a FG rather than continue their march to the end zone. The Dolphins got even luckier that the Jets missed an easy 29-yard field goal in typical Jets fashion.

3rd quarter offense

The Miami Dolphins offense was a dumpster fire in the third quarter. The Dolphins had a total of four possessions. The first possession went 3 plays for a total of -6 yards and ended in a punt. The second possession went 5 plays for 19 yards and ended in a punt. The third possession went 6 plays for 27 yards and ended on a lost fumble. The fourth possession went 6 plays for 19 yards and ended on a lost fumble.

In total, The Miami Dolphins offense ran 20 plays for 59 yards two punts, and two fumbles lost. That is the definition of hideous. It appeared that the Miami Dolphins offense decided to do their best Washington General’s impressions for the entire third quarter. As we move into December, the Miami Dolphins offense cannot take an entire quarter off and still expect to beat teams like the Buffalo Bills.

Running Game

As a team, the Miami Dolphins ran the ball 25 times for 104 yards for an average of 4.1 yards per carry and had two fumbles lost. There was just no consistency in the rushing attack. The two fumbles lost in Miami territory would have been backbreakers if the Dolphins had been playing an actual NFL franchise instead of the Jets.

Matt Breida started the game and ran 8 times for 36 yards for an average of 4.5 yards per carry and had a fumble lost. After Breida fumbled he found himself on the bench for the remainder of the game. Coach Flores is not going to play running backs who cough up the ball.

The next running back inserted into the game in the 3rd quarter after Breida’s fumble was Patrick Laird. Laird ran once for 9 yards and promptly fumbled the ball deep in Miami’s territory. That was the first and only time that Coach Flores put the ball in Laird’s hands.

In the fourth quarter, Coach Flores turned to running back DeAndre Washington. Washington ran 13 times for 49 yards for an average of 3.7 yards per carry. This production on the ground in the fourth quarter was largely unimpressive. But, at least Washington did not turn the ball over. So, there is at least that.

The fact remains that the Dolphins have a serious problem at running back. There is no good solution until we get to the offseason and the Dolphins can address this glaring problem via the NFL Draft or free agency. Until then, the Dolphins have to hope that Myles Gaskins is healthy enough to start next week.

Fumbles

We already mentioned it before, but it bears repeating and warrants time in the spotlight. The Dolphins were leading 13-3 in the third quarter with 4:18 left. It was 2nd down and five from the Dolphins 47-yard line. Breida lost two yards and Breida fumbled the ball.

The Dolphins were still up 13-3 in the 3rd quarter with 52 seconds left. It was 3rd and 14 on the Miami 30-yard line. Laird fumbled the ball and gave the Jets excellent field position in a close game.

Again, you can gloss over these gaffes when playing the 0-10 Jets. But, as the calendar turns to December and the opponents become more daunting and the stakes higher these types of mistakes can be fatal. If the Dolphins are serious about a playoff push then these types of turnovers have to be eliminated.

 

Overall

The Miami Dolphins got a much-needed win after a humiliating loss to the Broncos. The Dolphins are still one game back of the Buffalo Bills for the AFC East crown. After next week’s opponent in the Cincinnati Bengals things are going to be much more challenging. Hopefully, Coach Flores can clean up the mistakes and figure out how to get a bit more production out of the offense.

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  1. Miami Dolphins Offensive Snap Count, Stats, and PFF Grades For Week 12, 202 - Miami Phins

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