The Miami Dolphins are set to visit their AFC East rivals, the New York Jets, this Sunday looking for the season sweep, and possibly, even from scoring against them at all this season.
For the Jets, defeat has been an all too familiar sight this season, as they are still looking to gain any momentum at all this year and win a game. This game will also be the 110th meeting between these two teams, and a win by the Dolphins could tie the all-time series at 55-55-1. Miami won the first meeting this season to inch the all-time series closer, in a week six 24-0 shutout.
QB Tua Tagovailoa Doubtful for Matchup
The Dolphins will very likely be missing their prized possession, rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. He was downgraded to doubtful due to a thumb injury on Friday, and Miami head coach Brian Flores is expecting to start veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Tagovailoa’s NFL debut came toward the end of the game the first time the Dolphins and Jets met this season, but any action between his new division rival will likely have to wait until 2021.
In the four short weeks since Tagovailoa has been the starting quarterback, the Dolphins have a 3-1 record. He hasn’t yet yielded an interception since taking over the reigns of the starting job and Miami has truly embraced playing “next man up” and team-football as Tagovailoa’s passing statistics have underwhelmed a bit, aside from the game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Ryan Fitzpatrick In-Line to Start Again for Miami
The last time Miami saw the Jets, Fitzpatrick was the starter. And though the Dolphins did complete the shutout at Hard Rock Stadium, Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions with his three touchdowns and never picked up a first down threw nearly his complete game of work. It was Tagovailoa’s nine-yard pass to wide receiver Jakeem Grant in the fourth quarter that was the first first down for the team. Before being benched for the star rookie, Fitzpatrick did have eight interceptions in just seven games, something New York can take advantage of in what will be another attempt to pick up its first win.
Fitzpatrick hasn’t been all bad for Miami though, before being benched he also had over 1,600 yards as well as ten touchdowns in those seven games. Their Dolphins have the 29th overall offense going up against the Jets’ 28th overall defense, and on the opposite sides of the ball you have the Jets’ 32nd ranked defense going up against the Dolphins’ 21st overall defense.
Since Tagovailoa will likely miss the matchup, Miami elevated QB Reid Sinnett from its practice squad to backup Fitzpatrick.
QB Sam Darnold Returns for New York
However, while the Dolphins are having to make a last minute QB change, the Jets will get their starting QB back.
QB Sam Darnold will return for the first time since week eight. However, he missed weeks five and six with an injury, as well as weeks nine through 11. He has just a 3:6 touchdown to interception ratio so far in six games.
“We were preparing for both because obviously it doesn’t really change our mindset because both QBs are – they’re talented. They’re good. Obviously we all know (Joe) Flacco – even though it’s been a while – he didn’t win the Super Bowl MVP for no reason,” Dolphins safety Eric Rowe said. “…And (Sam) Darnold, we all know his potential. The fact that now that we kind of know who’s playing, it does give us a better game plan of some sort; but we were ready for both of them.”
Dolphins RB Situation Less Than Ideal, Again
Additionally, both teams have a banged up running back corps to make the game more unpredictable as well.
Miami will not activate RB Myles Gaskin (MCL) from injured reserve despite him being eligible. Gaskin has missed the last three games, but is not quite ready for game action. Furthermore, RB Salvon Ahmed, who has led the Dolphins in the three games Gaskin has missed, has also already been ruled out with a shoulder injury. Miami is in line to start pass-catching back Matt Breida, and use the likes of Patrick Laird, DeAndre Washington, Lynn Bowden Jr. and Malcolm Perry interchangeably.
”(Salvon) Ahmed will be out. We’ll list him as out. (We’ll watch film) with Tua (Tagovailoa). We’ve got to watch the film, see what it looks like and then we’ll make a decision,” Flores said.
Frank Gore Due For Bulk of Carries After Perine Injury
The Jets on the other hand were going to use veteran Frank Gore and Lamical Perine in a somewhat of a committee approach like they have all season, but Perine was placed on IR on Tuesday with an ankle injury. The 16-year vet is expected to take on the bulk of the workload and use Ty Johnson as a backup.
Miami Also Struggling at WR
At wide receiver, DeVante Parker will unquestionably be Fitzpatrick’s favorite target, but it’ll be shaky after that. With Grant coming in as a game-time decision, Perry will be elevated to the No. 2 WR role if he doesn’t (drop one if he does), followed by Mack Hollins and Antonio Callaway in that order.
Jets Showcasing Healthy WR Corps
Not Unlikely Fitzpatrick Turns to TEs
To make up for the lack of positional players, Fitzpatrick will likely rely on tight end Mike Gesicki heavily as well. Expect Durham Smythe and Adam Shaheen to be involved in the game plan as well for a struggling Dolphins offense.
I think we just take things one day at a time and try to just make improvements. I think we’ve seen some of that over the course of the year; but again even what happened last week or two weeks ago or the first 10 games of the season, that doesn’t matter either,” Flores said. “We’ve just got to try to get better on a daily basis. That’s the message every day for everyone here.”
Kayla Morton contributed to this article.
– Kayla Morton is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Miami Dolphins. She is also a co-host on the Full Press Fantasy Podcast. Like and follow on Follow @northdakayla74 Follow @FPC_Dolphins and Facebook.