Dolphins, Jets face off with both teams struggling
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All the good feelings earned by the Miami Dolphins for their 3-0 start are now officially and completely gone.
That's what happens when a team loses four of five games and two in a row. That's what happens when you're the 4-4 Dolphins and are desperate for a win.
The good news for the Dolphins is that the 3-5 New York Jets will visit them on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. The Jets have also lost two in a row.
New York appears to be in even worse shape than Miami, at least for the present. The Jets have a rookie quarterback and a long list of injuries that have left Sam Darnold with little in the way of playmakers.
Like Miami, New York had some good moments in the first half of the season. Darnold's electrifying debut on Monday Night Football in Detroit is a prime example.
It also featured some duds, including recent losses against the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears.
If 3-5 sounds familiar, that's because it is for Jets fans. It is the third straight season the Jets are 3-5 under head coach Todd Bowles, and each of the previous two teams wound up 5-11.
Technically, it's supposed to be a rebuilding season for the Jets centered on Darnold, who at times has looked like a star but at other times has resembled a rookie struggling to adjust.
As a result, the last eight games may be seen as a referendum on Bowles' job status, especially since this season is likely to end outside of the postseason for the eighth straight season.
The closest they've been to the postseason under Bowles was Week 17 in 2015 when they delivered a dud in Buffalo to finish 10-6. Since then the Jets are 13-28.
"We have to put our heads down and we have to correct this," Bowles said during a conference call Monday afternoon. "We have to try to come out and win some ballgames. The season is not over, but we're halfway through it at 3-5. You don't like where you are, but we dug ourselves this hole and we have to dig ourselves out."
Not that the Dolphins feel sorry for the Jets.
The Dolphins have their own issues, starting with quarterback Ryan Tannehill's shoulder injury that will force him to miss his fourth straight game.
He will be replaced by Brock Osweiler, who is 1-2 this season as a starter.
Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, never a media darling, has grown more and more frustrated with the constant Tannehill questions.
"You're asking me all the questions I don't want to get asked anymore," Gase said when the Tannehill subject was broached. "I haven't gone down there to watch him do anything. The trainers talk to me. It sounds like he is close to the stage where he could start throwing soon."
Five key Dolphins are on injured reserve: center Daniel Kilgore (arm); guard Josh Sitton (shoulder); defensive end William Hayes (knee); defensive tackle Vincent Taylor (foot); and wide receiver Albert Wilson (hip).
In addition, four key Dolphins are expected to be listed as questionable for the Jets game: wide receiver Kenny Stills (groin); center Josh Sitton (shoulder); defensive end William Hayes (knee); defensive tackle Vincent Taylor (calf).
But even with all those injuries, Miami might have enough to thwart a Jets attack that went three-and-out on six of their first eight possessions against the Chicago Bears this past Sunday. New York averaged 2.4 yards per rush and had seven pre-snap penalties, including five false starts by the offense.
However, the Dolphins, who won a road game against the Jets 20-12 on Sept. 16, have struggled defensively lately, and Gase is no doubt concerned.
"You can say all you want about scheme," Gase said, "But all of that doesn't matter if we don't play what we're supposed to play."
The Jets will have to get creative in finding some playmakers due to a season-ending neck injury to running back Bilal Powell and nagging ankle injuries to receivers Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa. Enunwa and Anderson were among the 14 players who either did not practice or were limited on Wednesday.
So naturally, the question for the Jets is, who's catching the ball from Darnold.
Last week one answer was undrafted rookie Deontay Burnett, who caught four passes for 61 yards.
Besides Darnold's former USC teammate, the Jets are hoping another answer is an established one in Jermaine Kearse. Kearse had three catches for 39 yards last week. He has 19 catches for 195 yards this season in seven games, highlighted by nine receptions for 94 yards in Week 4 against Indianapolis.
Updated November 1, 2018