Week 15 Review: On the Post-Season’s Doorstep Once Again

Dolphins 34 (9-5)

Jets 13 (4-10)

moore-celebrates
It was the Dolphins, not the Jets that took flight Saturday in New Jersey

Here we are again in a familiar spot. At this time next week, the Dolphins traveling coordinator could be on the hook for planning at least one more trip for the 2016 season. With the first sweep of the Jets since 2009 and the Broncos loss to the Patriots, the Dolphins magic number for the post-season is now two.

Matt Moore’s highly efficient performance, a stifling defense that bruised and battered the Jet quarterback and a coaching staff that continues to alter its identity to match the available personnel, a sense of greed is beginning to overcome Dolphin Nation.

A trip to the post-season would certainly be considered a win for a fan base that has grown accustomed to deciphering draft order and future scheduled opponents this time of year. Hell, the already-accomplished winning season would’ve been considered a smashing success four months ago.

But that’s what’s different about Adam Gase.

He has his players believing they’re going to win. He has completely re-energized a fan base that was reaching the abyss involvement and dedication.

Adam Gase has me wanting more because I think, under his direction, this team is capable of more.

The Dolphins fans that executed a MetLife Stadium take over on Saturday night saw a bevy of standout individual performances.

Offense:

The thing that stands out most about Matt Moore are they things he does better than Ryan Tannehill. In this game, Moore was quick to recognize and react to the rush of the Jets and displayed tremendous accuracy in the intermediate portion of the field. He did what he’s always done in giving his receivers chances to make plays in one-on-one coverage.

He paid the price for going to the well on the first drive of the second half, but was essentially perfect from that point forward. Four touchdown passes in his debut with Adam Gase’s offense – that’s impressive.

Kenny Stills is inching closer to being my vote for receiver of the year for Dolphins. He’s the first Miami player to register three touchdowns of 50 plus yards in a single season since Mark Duper did it in 1985. I still contend that his most impressive quality is the selflessness of the clear-out routes he runs. He opened things up for those crossing patterns that finally got the offense cranking when it was slow out of the gates.

stills-td
Kenny Stills hauls in his seventh touchdown of the season

Jarvis Landry now has explosive plays in back to back games. I’ve said it all along, that’s the one thing missing from his arsenal that keeps him from being mentioned among the league’s elite pass catchers. Keep it rolling, Juice.

I was surprised when I learned that Dominique Jones wasn’t active pre-game. I assumed there would be almost a litany of three tight end packages with a strong commitment to the running game. The two tight ends that did dress had a hell of a night in the passing game.
Dion Sims is become a dangerous red-zone option and Marqueis Gray’s catch near the pylon before the first touchdown brought back memories of that touchdown catch Anthony Fasano caught form Chad Pennington in the 2008 division clinching game at the Meadowlands.

The running backs had an underwhelming night. Jay Ajayi miss timed a couple of his cuts and didn’t have his best vision in this contest. Damien Williams and the short yardage offense is a concern that needs to be corrected before next week.

The blocking in front of them wasn’t holding up its end of the bargain either. Kraig Urbik had a difficult game and Laremy Tunsil got beat with power a few times.

The pass protection was good and the right side of the line had another excellent game. The protection calls and hot reads were on point. Matt Moore has a command over the huddle much like Ryan Tannehill does.

Bill O’Brien bragged about his talented quarterback room he has in Houston. Well Adam Gase has a pretty damn good one himself.

The area of concern I have with Matt Moore in this scheme is the manufactured designs in the red-zone that Gase and Clyde Christiansen were able to devise using Tannehill’s athleticism. But I also have faith that they will continue to adapt and find ways to put guys in a position to succeed like he eventually did on third and goal on two separate occasions.

The Jets like to play a lot of man and assign their rag tag group of backup linebackers to backs and tight ends and the Dolphins really took advantage of that game plan early. Once the Jets brought a safety down and played more press with man free over the top, the Dolphins were able to hit some double moves and smash concepts for some shot plays.

Defense:

I wrote an ARTICLE in the off-season about the remade secondary and the direction it spelled out for this defense. With a pass rush that offers an array of guys that can harass the quarterback and a secondary that catches the football, the Miami defense is capable of taking over a game.

And when it comes to taking over a game, no one does it more frequently than Cameron Wake. Add an interception to his impressive resume along with a second turnover created. His strip sack and pick both came at times when the team needed a play the most. Those two plays essentially ended any kind of success the Jets had on offense all night.

The Jets blocking scheme was often confused with the Dolphins’ exotic fronts. On the Bryce Petty sandwich, the Jets left Wake and Ndamukong Suh unblocked off opposite edges.

suh-wake-sandy
You should probably assign someone to block these guys

Earl Mitchell and Jordan Phillips might be the key to this defense when it plays well. Mitchell has been playing like he did in his first few games with the Dolphins back in 2014 and Phillips doesn’t give a lot of ground to anybody.

It doesn’t even need to be mentioned any more but Suh had a great game. Again. Is has become weekly with him at this point.

Jason Jones return to the line-up has been a very welcomed one.

If Mario Williams is going to have his third good game of the season (Seattle and Buffalo the other two) his revenge game back in Buffalo would be a good time to do it. He certainly played motivated in the first meeting with is former team but has been on a milk carton since then.

Kiko Alonso plays with a reckless abandon that can lead to big plays but can burn him badly as well. He eliminated the hole that Bilal Powell was hoping to slam through on the clutch 4th and 1 run stuff.

Jelani Jenkins needs to come off the field. His over-pursuit, late recognition and horrendous tackling is killing this team. Those third down dump offs to the back were rather embarrassing.

Tony Lippett and Xavien Howard were fantastic all night. Howard had one missed tackle, but he was tight in coverage and broke up three passes in his direction. All Lippett did was pull down two interceptions including a sensational diving pick. Brandon Marshall went up against both guys a number of times and ended the night with one catch.

Dolphins Jets Football
The Dolphins suddenly have a log jam at cornerback

Bacarri Rambo got smoked in man coverage on the Robbie Anderson touchdown, but that’s on the coaching staff. Rambo should not be asked to cover in the slot man up against a player with that kind of speed. That’s the match-up that Bobby McCain later drew and locked up again.

Isa Abdul-Quddus is challenging Andre Branch for best free agent signing. He was quick out of his back pedal and found himself in good position all night.

Walt Aikens gets a mention for blocking a punt and taking it to the house.

Recap:

This game started out as frustrating as any during the Dolphins 8-1 run over the last nine games. But by the time the clock struck 0:00 in the third quarter, this game was over. Consider this run at the start of the second half beginning with the blocked punt:

  • Block punt for a touchdown
  • Lippett interception
  • 31 yards to Landry
  • 28 yards to Sims
  • Touchdown to Sims three plays later
  • 3 and out
  • 66 yard touchdown to Landry

By the time the fans returned from getting their half time beers and hotdogs, the score went from 13-10 to 27-10. By the time they ate their hot dogs, it was 34-10.

It sure was relaxing to put a team away with explosive plays and four takeaways on defense.

This game serves as nice tune-up for the all-important trip to Buffalo. 2013 called and it wants week 16-17 Dolphins playoff scenario. Odds are that one win will get the Dolphins in. Two wins guarantees that they get in.

playoff-picture
With two weeks left, the Dolphins own sole possession of the AFC’s sixth seed

The fifth seed is still a possibility, the six seed is likely and there’s an outside chance the Dolphins collapse. But with this coach, my money is the Dolphins being a part of week 18.

I don’t need to get into the importance of the Bills game. Christmas Eve, a chance to put Rex Ryan out of a job and an opportunity to wrap up a post-season berth while you’re ushering your relatives out of your house on Christmas night – we can’t ask for any more than that.

@Travis_Writes

Phins up!

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