ReFo: Dolphins @ Jets, Week 13
It’s not often the score tells you the whole story in an NFL game but this might be an exception. The Jets were once again inept on offense and while Miami wasn’t able to set the scoreboard alight, they were able to at least put enough points on the board to make the game comfortable.
The Jets descended further into QB hell by benching Geno Smith in favor of Matt Simms, but that change failed to spark the kind of positive force they needed. Miami had scored four times and opened up a 13-0 gap before the Jets were able to post their solitary field goal and it wasn’t long before they added to that lead with another touchdown.
But enough wallowing in the overall misery of the Jets, let’s delve deeper into who stood out for better or worse on either side.
Miami — Three Performances of Note
We’re finally starting to see a little of the impact the Dolphins expected Mike Wallace to have on their passing game. He finished the game with seven receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown, working primarily on Antonio Cromartie while on the other side Brian Hartline took Dee Milliner back to school as he collected 127 yards and a score on his nine receptions. Both players were effective after the catch, collecting 95 of their combined yards after bringing the ball in and Wallace in particular was an obvious threat over the top, to the point he scared the coverage into extremely generous cushions. That led to an efficient day for Ryan Tannehill whose numbers were blighted by an interception that came on a pass batted at the line which became a jump-ball between Cromartie and Wallace that the bigger, more physical player won.
Green All Over the D
When the offense a team is facing is as bad as the Jets are right now you can expect to see a lot of green grades all over the defense, but nonetheless there were some impressive performances here. Olivier Vernon earned a +2.5 grade, and the impact of his sacks was obvious, but perhaps less obvious was his impressive play in the run game which actually made up most of that positive grade. Paul Soliai was once again a force inside against the run notching a +3.2 grade in that area and a +2.9 overall mark. There was a time when Soliai vs the Jets’ interior was a fantastic back and forth battle, but at this stage it’s a battle only one man is winning. On the back end, three of the four starters in the secondary (Grimes, Jones and Clemons) all posted grades of +2.0 and above, with all three players covering well allowing just three receptions on seven combined targets.
Inevitable Weak Link
When you face the Jets’ defense the one thing that is almost certain is that somebody is going to wind up struggling on the offensive line. In this game it was right guard John Jerry, who earned a -3.8 grade overall and a -5.4 mark against the run thanks largely to running into Sheldon Richardson in top form. Richardson was a force in the run game all day, making multiple plays in which he got across his man to block the intended point of attack, and then worked back across the other side of the block to make the play against the running back after he made the cut he forced initially. Jerry hasn’t done that badly this season, but he has graded negatively overall, with this game exactly matching his overall negative mark for the rest of the season in that area.
New York Jets — Three Performances of Note
To the Bench!
It’s not a great endorsement for the team’s drafting when two of their top three picks in this past draft were sent to the bench during this game for poor play. Admittedly, Sheldon Richardson’s play almost makes up for it entirely, but Geno Smith was sat down after completing just four of his first nine pass attempts for 29 yards and an interception. Dee Milliner is no stranger to being sent to the bench in his rookie year, and after being thrown at 11 times and allowing 82 yards, giving some ugly cushions to Hartline in particular, Milliner was sat down. His coverage was pretty iffy but it was the missed tackles that seemed to prove the straw that broke the camel’s back — Ryan came over for a chat after Milliner blew a tackle down the sideline and allowed a Wallace scamper to score when he shouldn’t have had much hope of doing so. The only good news for both players is that neither replacement did much to command the starting spot going forward.
There was a time when the Jets had the best offensive line in football. Nick Mangold was easily the league’s best center, D’Brickashaw Ferguson was one of the game’s top left tackles and the other spots were filled with capable veterans. Both of those former studs have tailed off this season with Mangold in particular quietly grading much worse than many would think. He was the high-performer on the line in this game with a +0.9 mark, with every other member grading negatively and three of them firmly in the red. The performance of the line, particularly in the running game, makes the performance of RB Chris Ivory all the more impressive. While Bilal Powell started, it was Ivory that saw more carries (12 to 7) and gained 61 yards on those carries. The difference between the two players, however, was in how much help the O-line gave them. While Powell gained 41% of his yards before contact, Ivory actually gained 65 yards after contact – four more than he gained net.
Damon Harrison is one of the league’s best run defenders, and we have come to expect a solid showing from him in this area every week. He didn’t disappoint, grading at +2.1 against the run to take his season grade to a huge +31.3 mark in run defense. That is more than double the next best grade among DTs with a few players still left to play. Harrison, though, was overshadowed in this game by Sheldon Richardson, who notched a monstrous +6.5 grade against the run to take his own run defense grade to a massive +28.5 mark from his 3-4 end position. The Jets D now looks an awful lot like its best years with Sione Pouha on the nose, Mike DeVito at end both dominating against the run and relying on Muhammad Wilkerson (or Shaun Ellis) to provide the pressure against the pass. The big difference between those two units is that the coverage of the current unit can’t stack up against the team of a few years ago.
– Throwing at Brent Grimes in this game yielded a passer rating of 16.7
– Matt Simms was pressured on seven snaps. His rating on those plays was 0.0, completing no passes to his own team, and one to the opposition.
– Miami’s defense missed only five tackles in the game, with Dannell Ellerbe accounting for three of them.
PFF Game Ball
The Miami WRs certainly had a good case, as did Olivier Vernon and even Chris Ivory, but I can’t look beyond Sheldon Richardson’s performance even in a lopsided defeat.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam