The Dolphins welcome the Jets to Hard Rock Stadium to renew the rivalry for the 112th all-time meeting (113th including the postseason). Miami took the total series lead with the victory at the Meadowlands four weeks ago (regular and postseason, 56-55-1) and can capture the regular season advantage by pulling the season sweep for the second straight year.
Miami dominated the fourth quarter in that first meeting, getting out in front and seizing control with a two-score lead that only shrunk to seven points with just 1:42 to play. The Dolphins defense forced a punt on the only other Jets possession of the final period, thanks to an offense that took the air out of the football while simultaneously putting points on the scoreboard.
In the fourth quarter of that game, the offense possessed the rock for 11:07 of game time, something of a trend for this team. Over the last four games, the Dolphins average 10:17 time of possession in the game's final period.
Leaving the opposing offense with an average of just 4:43 time-of-possession in the fourth quarter is one ingredient for success, and third-down execution is a big factor according to Miami Co-OC and Tight Ends Coach George Godsey.
"It's about putting the game away," Godsey said. "Sometimes it's controlling the ball and making sure that those possessions are going to your best players … Third downs are critical. We've been fortunate to convert some big third downs and churn some clock."
One of those players is quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Pro Football Reference tracks splits-by-quarter dating back to 1994. With a minimum of 250 pass attempts, Tagovailoa's 109.2 passer rating in that period is second-best over that 28-year period.
"He's done well in the fourth quarter," Godsey said of his quarterback. "We want to make sure he's making good decisions and when it comes down to playing our best at the very end of the game, that's ultimately where you need to play your very best football. We learn through the course of the game how it's being played. At the end, we need to make sure we adapt and are playing our best football then."
Tagovailoa's play has recently earned the admiration of film savants Peyton Manning and J.T. O’Sullivan. Naturally, we checked in with Quarterbacks Coach Charlie Frye to talk about Tua and where his base for success begins -- like with all quarterbacks -- the feet.
"Your footwork is kind of like your alarm clock," Frye said. "There's a lot of things in relationship that happens throughout a play in relationship to the quarterback's feet. You try to marry your feet as your timing mechanism as you're going through your progressions. Also as an alarm as something breaks down. We spend a lot of time making sure the feet are right and that you're always in position to throw."
"When things break down, the first thing that breaks down with younger quarterbacks is their footwork," he continued. "It's just continuing to develop it, continuing to work on it. At the end of the day, your feet, your eyes, your progression … that's what allows you to sleep at night. Knowing those things stone cold so that, in your mind, they can't get you."
That November contest in New Jersey was Tagovailoa's first career start against the Jets, a team who brings their best every time these rivals square off.
Here are what some of the other coaches are saying about Jets Week and the challenge it provides.
Assistant Coaches Talk Jets
Defensive Line Coach Austin Clark: "The Jets are a veteran group up front. It's a tough challenge. They play hard, they work well together, they've gotten better each week."
Defensive Backs Coach Gerald Alexander: "They do a lot of different things where they move guys around pre-snap and move players. So, eye discipline is going to be key for us just as far as what they do pre-snap, how they move and the tempo in which they move. So, it's always going to be a challenge to make sure we communicate well and align well, especially when you have things going on pre-snap that messes with eye discipline and alignments, things like that."
Linebackers Coach Anthony Campanile: "They've got a bunch of good backs. They've done a good job of getting the ball to their playmakers. They have a good young quarterback who's obviously a playmaker. Throughout their roster, I think they've done a good job of building their team. They play hard. Their tight ends have made a bunch of plays this year, the running backs have done a good job in the run game and pass game. They certainly test you in every phase in our room (linebackers)."
Offensive Line Coach Lemuel Jeanpierre: "Up front they're very good. In the front seven they're very talented. They've got speed and those guys play hard … They've got size and power along the line of scrimmage. C.J. Mosley, you see him every game, and when you see the speed they've got at linebacker and even in that secondary, they're physical, so that's a very good defense.
Quarterbacks Coach Charlie Frye: "They're built from the front to the back. They've got a really good front and they can get pressure in a lot of different ways whether it's pushing the pocket or coming off the edges. Our footwork has to be exact. Our eyes have to be in the right place. So, that gives us the ability to help the unit by getting the ball out."
The Miami Dolphins Monday announced they have placed safety Jevon Holland and running back Phillip Lindsay on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The team elevated running back Duke Johnson to the active roster as a COVID-19 replacement. Miami also signed wide receiver Tommylee Lewis and running back Dexter Williams to the practice squad and released wide receiver Travis Fulgham from the practice squad.
The team also waived center Austin Reiter.