Jets’ defense attention on Miami running back
Jay Ajayi has a chance to become the first player to rush for 200 yards in three consecutive games when the Dolphins play the Jets, so imagine the stir he created while visiting New York last weekend.
Jay Ajayi has a chance to become the first NFL player to rush for 200 yards in three consecutive games when the Dolphins play the Jets, so imagine the stir he created while visiting New York last weekend during his team’s bye week.
Lots of attention, right? Wrong.
“A couple of people at the hotel, maybe,” Ajayi said with a grin, “but I’m still just me, I guess.”
Not to the Jets. They’ll be geared to stop Ajayi and deny him a rushing record.
“We’re not going to be a footnote in history,” defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson said. The Dolphins (3-4) and Jets (3-5) have each revived their season with two consecutive victories, but one of those streaks will end Sunday.
Here are some things to know about the 102nd meeting of AFC East rivals:
Ajayi was the Dolphins’ Mr. October, tying an NFL record by topping 200 yards rushing in consecutive games before the bye.
The second-year pro more than doubled his career rushing total, and a lot of his yards in the two games were hard-earned. Ajayi forced 12 missed tackles in 53 carries, and 277 of his 418 yards came after contact, according to Pro Football Focus.
Now he and the Dolphins face a Jets run defense ranked No. 1 in the league at 74 yards per game.
“We know we’re going to have a good challenge,” Ajayi said. “At the same time, we’re not worried about anybody else. We’re worried about ourselves. If we do our jobs and we go out there like we know we can play, I think we’re going to have a good day.”
The Jets are confident, too. The only previous time they faced Ajayi, he carried three times for 6 yards.
“He’s a decent back,” Richardson said.
It Starts up Front
While Ajayi has been tough to tackle , he has also benefited from gaping holes courtesy of a group of blockers paving the way for the team’s turnaround.
“It was like we were searching for an identity,” first-year Miami coach Adam Gase said, “and they basically said, ‘Well, this is going to be our identity, whether you like it or not. You better start calling runs, because we’re going to get you yards.”’
The offensive line includes first-round pick Laremy Tunsil, who has become a force at left guard and is coming off his best game yet against the Bills.
“If you watch his first pull in the game, I think he could have played for Vince Lombardi and run the Green Bay sweep,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said.
Ryan Fitzpatrick got off to a rough start to the season with 11 interceptions in the first six games, and was benched in favor of Geno Smith. After Smith was lost for the season because of a knee injury, the Jets turned back to Fitzpatrick, who had a brutal first half last week against the Browns, going 3 of 14 for 30 yards. Joe Namath, among others, took to social media to call for Fitzpatrick to be benched again in favor of Bryce Petty. But Fitzpatrick turned things around in the second half and helped lead the Jets to a 31-28 victory.
He’s confident he can lead the Jets on the type of run that got them within a win of the playoffs last season.
“Expectations for us are we’ve got to win them all,” Fitzpatrick said. “I mean, that’s what we hope to do. I think we have the right guys in the locker room to do it.”
Forte Feels Fine
Matt Forte has put to rest — at least for now — any concerns about whether he had anything left in his 30-year-old legs.
He had 82 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries last week at Cleveland, a week after rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries against Baltimore. Forte ranks ninth in the NFL with 542 yards rushing, and his six TD runs ties him for fourth.
Q is the Answer
Quincy Enunwa has stepped in for the injured Eric Decker and become a key playmaker for the Jets offense. The 2014 sixthround draft pick out of Nebraska leads New York with 36 receptions for 502 yards and three touchdowns, including a 57-yarder last week in which he ran through four tackles to get into the end zone. Enunwa also broke up a would-be interception. “He’s playing with so much confidence,” Fitzpatrick said. “He wants to be that guy, and he has really come through this year for us. We expect a lot out of him, and expect him to continue doing it.”
Ajayi has a chance to become the first NFL player to rush for 200 yards in three consecutive games when the Dolphins play the Jets.