The winless Miami Dolphins return home on a short week to face the one-win, division rival New York Jets. The Dolphins dropped their contest on Monday Night Football last week, while the Jets dropped their game down in Jacksonville at the hands of Minshew Mania.
New York’s healthy lineup
New York’s quarterback Sam Darnold carried a minor thumb injury for the duration of this week, but has been cleared to play and doesn’t carry an injury designation heading into the game. Darnold will have running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receivers Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder all healthy as the Jets look for their second win of the season. He’ll also have tight end Ryan Griffin on deck, and potentially another in Chris Herndon, who is a game-time decision. Herndon was out earlier this season due to a suspension, and has been dealing with a hamstring injury, but could make his season debut.
Miami’s healthy lineup
On the flip side of the offensive side of the ball, Miami’s Ryan Fitzpatrick has multiple backs healthy, including newly appointed starter Mark Walton. WRs DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant and Allen Hurns are also all without any sort of injury designation for the first time this season.
“I like it. I think we’re gelling as a receiver group, as an offensive unit – quarterback, tight ends, o-line, backs, receivers – but that group, I think they’ve really done a good job. I think they work well together. They watch film together. They work out together. There’s a good rapport and working environment there from that group and a lot of other groups,” head coach Brian Flores said.
Possible shaky defensive changes
Both defenses are depleted, but most notably is Miami now going without cornerback Xavien Howard. The Dolphins placed their newly-paid franchise corner on injured reserve after a new knee injury plagued him last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Miami was awarded Xavier Crawford off of waivers from the Houston Texans, and also resigned another tight end: Clive Walford. Additionally, CB Ken Crawley from New Orleans was also awarded to the team on Wednesday, following these two moves. It’s unclear though who will be playing a starting role.
“Yeah, it’s kind of crazy because I was talking to my agent and I was saying the ideal place for me to play right now and just help out and try to grow with the guys, is Miami,” Crawley said. “It’s crazy how God works and it came through for us, so I’m excited to be here. I’m trying to play whatever they try to put me at whether it’s special teams, nickel, corner, safety or whatever. I’m just trying to play and help these guys win.”
Keeping the Fitzmagic
Each week this season the Dolphins have new guys signed this year in new positions. However, they’re sticking with Fitzpatrick at QB because Flores publicly spoke and said “he gives the team the best chance to win”. Fitzpatrick has been more consistent than Josh Rosen this season, and has put Miami in close games, including him coming in against the Washington Redskins, the following week in Buffalo against the Bills, and surprisingly out to a 14-0 lead last week against the Steelers.
Another unique tidbit for this game comes in with the fact that the Jets’ Bell will probably not have as good of a game against the Dolphins defense as one would think. When Miami faced him as a member of the Steelers in 2016, the Dolphins shut down Bell from the get-go and only allowed him 53 yards on the ground, his second-lowest yardage totals for the season (Baltimore, 32 yards).
Welcome back Adam…but you’re not really welcomed
Jets’ coach Adam Gase is also making his first return to Miami after being fired in the offseason. The Dolphins have moved in a better direction since the firing and look to hold onto Flores for the long-haul. Gase failed his Miami players over and over again, and there are enough players on the team to remember. There should be an extra spark in these guy’s steps on Sunday.
“We knew this week was going to come since the day he (Gase) signed (with them), so it’s nothing new to us. It’s another week. We’re looking forward to it and we’re excited to play,” Wilson said. “I feel like the players, we want the matchup. We’re looking forward to it.”