Previewing the opposition: Miami Dolphins

The Jets' home opener has finally arrived and it's arguably the least anticipated or perhaps most dreaded in recent memory. Still, the outlook for the season might look different with a solid performance here. The Dolphins are actually lucky not to be winless themselves after Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo missed a game-winning 44-yard field goal attempt in their first game on Sunday.

Let's review how their roster shapes up:


After a preseason injury to Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins moved quickly to persuade Jay Cutler to come out of retirement and start for them. Cutler played reasonably well in his first game of the season, an impressive feat for someone who threw just 14 passes in preseason.

Matt Moore is one of the highest paid backups in the NFL but the Dolphins obviously didn't like the idea of him stepping up into a starting role because they paid Cutler $10 million instead. Moore started three games at the end of last year, the first of which saw him lead a blowout over the Jets with four touchdown passes.

Offensive line

The key to Miami's offensive line is Pro Bowler Mike Pouncey. However, Pouncey's effectiveness was limited because he was banged up last year. He's had some issues during the offseason too, but did start last week.

The inexperienced Anthony Steen had to fill in a few times for Pouncey last season and is now starting at left guard. He's struggled in the running game though.

Now that left tackle Branden Albert is gone, former first round pick Laremy Tunsil can move there full time. However, he struggled badly last week, giving up a couple of sacks.

The other tackle, Ja'Wuan James, was the most reliable starter on the line last year, even though he led the team with 10 penalties. He was their best lineman on Sunday too.

Their right guard, 33-year old Jermon Bushrod, retains his job despite grading out as one of the worst guards in the league last year.

Their back-ups include a former Jet - Jesse Davis - who actually got some snaps last week in relief of Steen. They also have a promising rookie guard in Isaac Asiata. New signing Ted Larsen, who is on injured reserve at the moment, would have been a contender to start at guard.

Running Backs

The Dolphins' running game is built around Jay Ajayi, who was one of last year's break-out stars. Ajayi rushed for 122 yards last week. Generally, his production has depended heavily on whether the offensive line is at full strength, which it basically is right now.

Back-ups Damien Williams and Keynan Drake played just four snaps between them last week. Williams contributed seven total touchdowns in 2016 while Drake won the first game over the Jets on a kick-off return.


Jarvis Landry had his second straight season with over 100 catches and 1,000 yards last year. He's a unique player, who generates a higher percentage of his yards after the catch than any other receiver due to all the short passes he catches, so the Jets will have to tackle efficiently. His role doesn't seem to be changing much with Cutler under center, as evidenced by his 13-78 line in their first game.

DeVante Parker more than doubled his output with 60 catches last year, although his yards per catch average dropped from 19 to 13. He caught four passes for 85 yards on Sunday.

Kenny Stills was the big play threat last year and scored a touchdown on Sunday, although he was otherwise quiet.

Again, the reserves didn't play much in their first game with Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant sharing just three snaps.

The Dolphins traded for Julius Thomas and brought back Anthony Fasano to change up their tight end position. Thomas has seen his production slipping over the past few seasons, while Fasano is now 33 and just a back-up these days.

Defensive line

Miami's defensive line is still built around Ndamukong Suh on the inside and Cameron Wake coming off the edge. Wake had a pretty quiet game against the Chargers but Suh had a monster game and should be relishing facing one of the Jets' back-ups with Brian Winters out.

Andre Branch is listed as the other starter at defensive end, although new addition William Hayes also got plenty of reps on Sunday and had a more productive day. Jordan Phillips is the other starting defensive tackle. He and Suh had 20 penalties between them last year.

On the bench the Dolphins have three rookies - Charles Harris, Vincent Taylor and Davon Godchaux - although they didn't produce much last week. Taylor or Godchaux may need to start because Phillips is injured.


The Dolphins rotated a lot of bodies in and out on the line last week, but only used three linebackers and five defensive backs.

They are a few bodies down in the linebacker department with veteran Koa Misi and second round rookie Raekwon McMillan already on injured reserve and new signing Lawrence Timmons on the suspended list after a mysterious disappearance last week.

Kiko Alonso and Mike Hull all played every snap on Sunday but struggled against the run. Alonso has good experience but Hull only started the first few games of his career down the stretch last season. Chase Allen, an undrafted rookie, also saw action on running downs last week.

Miami's bench includes veteran Rey Maualuga and youngster Stephone Anthony. The Dolphins recently traded a future mid-round pick for Anthony - a 2015 first rounder who had been a disappointment with the Saints. Maualuga is injured and will not play.

Defensive backs

Byron Maxwell is still Miami's number one cornerback and he had a good year last season, despite being flagged for 10 penalties. He and fellow starter Xavien Howard struggled against the Chargers, though. Miami will be hoping for improvement from Howard, who started seven games as a rookie last year.

Tony Lippett was the other starter last year but he's on injured reserve. However, veteran Alterraun Verner, who signed in July, could be an alternative. Verner didn't actually play on Sunday, despite making a push for a starting role in camp. Instead, Bobby McCain is currently employed as the third corner, due to his ability to cover the slot.

Reshad Jones is a top-level safety, especially in coverage. He starts alongside Nate Allen, who has plenty of experience but was limited to just seven starts over the past two years with Oakland, due primarily to injuries.

TJ McDonald will eventually move into that starting role, but he'll be suspended until midseason. The third safety is currently Michael Thomas, who saw plenty of action last year, especially after Jones went on injured reserve.

Also on the bench are Walt Aikens, who started some games in 2015, and rookie Cordrea Tankersley.

Special teams

Miami's new kicker is Cody Parkey, who went 4-for-4 last week, nailing a 54-yarder that proved to be the game winner. He's made all six of his career attempts from beyond 50 yards.

They also have a new punter in rookie Matt Haack. He punted three times last week but had a net average of below 30 yards.

In the return game, the Dolphins are sticking with the dynamic Grant on punts and Drake on kick-offs. Hull and Thomas are two of their most productive players in kick coverage. Thomas had two special teams tackles last week.