ReFo: Jets @ Dolphins, Week 17
With the playoffs no longer possible for either team, Sunday’s AFC East matchup saw the New York Jets travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins in a game which was more about pride than anything else. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin had already been told he’ll be back next year, while the expectation is that Rex Ryan will no longer be the head coach of the Jets, but it was Ryan’s team who performed better, earning one final win for their coach if it is indeed to be his last game.
With players playing to showcase themselves for their own and potentially other teams in 2015, this game saw plenty of big performances on both side of the ball. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at who stood out.
New York Jets – Performances of Note
Geno Smith, QB: +3.8
Breakdown: With as rough a season as they had at the quarterback position, the Jets will almost certainly be looking to upgrade in the offseason. Smith gave them something to think about, however, with one of the best performances of his career as he picked apart the Dolpins’ defense — his early fumble the only blemish on an otherwise excellent day.
Signature Play: Q3, 11:46 remaining. Wide Receiver Eric Decker got himself open on the play, but Smith placed the ball perfectly to allow him to avoid having to break his stride before racing to the end zone.
Eric Decker, WR: +3.1
Breakdown: Decker has come under fire for a subpar season after arriving in New York on a hefty free agent deal, but he finished as strongly as you can with one of the best performances of his career. Breaking the game open for the Jets with some big catches and forcing Cortland Finnegan to the bench, he ended the 2014 season on a high.
Signature Stat: Though he put up more yards in his final season in Denver, his first in New York ended with a higher Yards Per Route Run Average, coming in at 2.11 compared with 2.03 in 2013.
Muhammad Wilkerson, DE: +3.8
Breakdown: Once again the Jets’ defensive line was the highlight of their roster, with Muhammad Wilkerson capping off another strong season with a disruptive performance in Miami. With a sack, two hits and a hurry from 35 pass rushing attempts, he finished the game with a Pass Rushing Productivity Rating of 9.8.
Signature Play: Q4, 8:22 remaining. His sack came against left guard Daryn Colledge, beating him inside with relative ease to bring down Tannehill.
Miami Dolphins – Performances of Note
Ja’Wuan James, OT: -4.4
Breakdown: Colledge wasn’t the only player to struggle on the left side of the offensive line for Miami, with the rookie James continue his second half of the season struggles since moving to left tackle. Rarely looking comfortable in pass protection, the Dolphins will be hoping he can revert to the flashes he showed at right tackle in 2015.
Signature Play: Q2, 1:07 remaining. You could take your pick from a whole host of plays, but on this one he was simply over powered by Jason Babin, who bull-rushed him back towards the quarterback.
Reshad Jones, FS: +2.9
Breakdown: Standing out as the most active player on the Dolphins defence on Sunday, Jones made his mark against the run. Finishing the game with three defensive stops, he added a quarterback hit which prevented a likely Jets touchdown on a trick play.
Signature Play: Q3, 6:44 remaining. The hit mentioned above came here, with Jones delivering a jarring blow to Jeremy Kerley to prevent the ball reaching Smith, who had sneaked out into a route.
Ryan Tannehill, QB: -1.7
Breakdown: Tannehill’s performance wasn’t terrible by any stretch, but on a day where plenty of comparisons were made to Dan Marino due to him hitting several milestones, the Dolphins’ quarterback definitely didn’t wow you on the field.
Signature Play: Struggled throwing to his right, where he completed just 1-of-6 for 14 yards on passes thrown beyond the line of scrimmage.
PFF Game Ball
You could really go with any of the three Jets players mentioned, but with such a strong performance to end the season Geno Smith comes away with the Game Ball. He put the ball where it needed to be and looked as good as he ever has as a passer.
Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon