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Jets Defense Must Take Advantage of Distracted Dolphins

Gang Green needs to get pressure on Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill

By Neil Bisman
|  Friday, Nov 29, 2013  |  Updated 12:45 PM EDT
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Jets QB Geno Smith, left, and Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill

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The atmosphere surrounding the Jets has been described as a circus the past few years.

Whether its bizarre stories involving Rex Ryan and his wife, the Tim Tebow hoopla or on-field mishaps, like Mark Sanchez's "butt fumble" From bizarre off-field stories involving Rex Ryan's tattoos and the hoopla surrounding Tim Tebow to on field mishaps, like Mark Sanchez’s “butt fumble,” the team has been in the headlines far too often for all the wrong reasons.

But none of New York's tabloid fodder has compared to the media firestorm over bullying allegations involving Miami Dolphins teammates Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin.

Whatever your personal feelings on the saga may be, there’s no doubt it has created an incredibly unwanted off-field distraction for Miami.

The story brings with it on-field implications as Incognito will miss Sunday’s game against the Jets serving the final game of his suspension, while Martin will probably never wear a Dolphins uniform again.

For once, the Jets can look across the field and see a team dealing with more distractions than they are, and they need to take advantage of it. They can’t afford another loss within their division and within the conference, especially against a team they're competing with for the final playoff spot.

Miami’s offensive line wasn’t all that great when it was at full strength, but it's a glaring weakness without Incognito and Martin. The Dolphins are a pass-heavy team, so the Jets will certainly have their opportunities to knock quarterback Ryan Tannehill down. He has been sacked more times than any other quarterback in the NFL by a fairly wide margin.

Putting extra pressure on New York's front seven is a middling secondary. The Jets are likely to be without cornerback Antonio Cromartie, out with a hip injury. And while he's certainly had his issues this season, the bench hasn’t exactly stepped up when called upon.

Given Cromartie’s absence and the team’s struggles on offense, Gang Green desperately needs for their defensive line to be active up front and set the tone for the game.

The last time Geno Smith took the field at MetLife Stadium, emotions rode high as the rookie led an upset over the New Orleans Saints. But that was way back on Nov. 3, and Smith and the rest of the offense have been horrendous since.

The bye week after the Saints game was a chance for Smith to work out some of the kinks in his repertoire, but he somehow came back looking his worst.

In the two games since, Smith has thrown five interceptions and no touchdowns, completing just 17 of 45 passes.

Running backs Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell haven’t gotten nearly enough touches the past two weeks. The Dolphins have been known to put pressure on the quarterback, but they aren’t very good at stopping the run.

The Jets can ease some of the pressure off of Smith by giving the ball to to the running backs all day long. If the Jets want to run a few gimmick plays and use specialist Josh Cribbs in the wildcat, that’s fine too, as long as it’s working and the team is picking up yardage.

But a strong running game still won’t let Smith completely off the hook. He needs to start completing more passes down the field and keeping opposing defenses honest. If Smith can’t hurt teams with his arm, it allows them to play up on the line and wait for the run.

In order for Smith to make that happen, the receivers have to play better themselves.

Dropped passes and disappearing acts have plagued the group. Santonio Holmes could also be a bit banged up for Sunday’s game, but what else is new? Stephen Hill has been invisible and the tight ends need to get more involved.

Having lost two games in a row, there’s an increasing sense of urgency for Gang Green to play well at home this weekend. The term “must-win” gets thrown around quite a bit, but this is as close as it gets for a week 13 matchup. As the calendar turns over into December, the elimination games are officially underway for the Jets.

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