DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins will look for a 2-0 start to their season on Sunday when they face the struggling New York Jets at Met Life Stadium.
The Jets are off to an 0-2 start, most recently falling to the Oakland Raiders by a 45-20 score on the road. Defensively, they are 30th in the NFL against the rush, giving up 185 yards per game.
Nevertheless, Dolphins-Jets is a rivalry game, and head coach Adam Gase insists his squad does not take any opponent lightly. In Gase’s eyes, his team is focusing on improving themselves no matter the opposition.
“I think our guys are just excited that we’re going to get an opportunity to play on Sunday,” said Gase, noting his Dolphins have only played one game so far due to Hurricane Irma. “I think they’re focused on themselves and doing their job and making sure they execute the right way. I haven’t heard our guys really talk about what anything is going on outside of here. They’re focused on what they’re doing.”
Gase also emphasized the importance of not downplaying the Jets defense. Their struggles against the run have been eye-opening, but could be explained by the tough matchups they’ve faced. In Week 1 it was LeSean McCoy and the Bills, before seeing Marshawn Lynch and the Raiders in Week 2.
“Anytime you’ve got to go against ‘Shady’ (RB LeSean McCoy) and then you get Marshawn (Lynch), all of a sudden Derek Carr and those guys, it becomes very tough,” Gase said. “Historically their run defense has been top five, and statistically right now, it’s not what they want it, obviously; but they’ve been playing two good teams.”
The Dolphins swept the Jets in two games last season, but struggled to establish the run in the second matchup. The Jets held Dolphins star running back Jay Ajayi to 51 yards on 19 carries last December 17th, a 34-13 Dolphins win.
“We know it’s going to be a challenge to run the ball because we’ve gone down this road with them before,” noted Gase. “We have to be very good in everything we do.”
Jay Ajayi remembers that December matchup with the Jets well.
“It was cold, I remember that,” said Ajayi. “Their defense did a good job stopping us on the ground that game. Our passing game really was able to be explosive that game, but for the running backs, it was a tough one.”
It certainly won’t be as cold this Sunday, with New Jersey temperatures expected to be in the high 80’s around game time with sunny skies.
Ajayi carried 28 times for 122 yards in Miami’s Week 2 win over the Chargers. He’ll likely get a heavy workload again, and says he feels twenty to twenty-five carries per game is an ideal range for him.
Ajayi certainly understands the significance of a Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets matchup. While the rivalry may not be at the same boiling point of the 80’s and 90’s, it still carries some extra weight in his eyes.
“All of our (divisional games) are intense, and we really don’t like any of those guys,” Ajayi said. “Whenever we play the Jets it’s always been intense out there. They like to talk smack. That’s always been my experience against them, and it’s been fun.”
Kickoff for Dolphins-Jets is set for 1:00 PM this Sunday From Met Life Stadium. You can watch the game on CBS 4 and hear it on 560 WQAM and KISS 99-9 FM.