The New York Jets will host the AFC East-leading Miami Dolphins in the NFL’s first-ever Black Friday game, and they’ll be doing so under unfavorable conditions.
Friday’s game will mark the first meeting of the season between the two teams, and comes as the Jets are hoping to keep their bleak playoff hopes alive despite a three-game slide and with a new quarterback under center for the third time this season.
Meanwhile, Miami will be looking to tweak their offense on a short week after defeating the Las Vegas Raiders by just a score in a game that featured an uncharacteristic three turnovers by the otherwise dominant offense.
Read below for more on Friday’s Black Friday game.
THE UNMATCHED MATCHUP
The Jets had high hopes for this year with the offseason addition of four-time league MVP Aaron Rodgers. The offense, which also featured the hiring of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, was seemingly built around Rodgers with the idea that Zach Wilson would be able to learn from the veteran as a backup.
But just four plays into Rodgers’ debut in New York, the Jets had a new starter for the second time this season.
Head coach Robert Saleh remained committed to the former BYU standout, despite his continuing struggles. A dominant defense helped the Jets to improve to 3-3 before the bye week and eventually another win over the New York Giants after that.
But since then, the Jets have begun to return to their old ways. This week, after a brutal loss to the Buffalo Bills, Saleh announced a change to the quarterbacks room – Tim Boyle would be making his first NFL start against the Dolphins on Friday, and Wilson would be relegated to third string behind Trevor Siemian.
“We have made a lot of changes, tried to go a little bit younger, so we have addressed the running back room, we have addressed the receiver room, we have addressed the tight end room, we have moved the coordinator to the box,” Saleh said of the decision on Monday.
“So obviously, Zach, it is not all him, but there are some things that he needs to be better at, and this is just another situation to see if we can give another guy an opportunity, see if something can change.”
The Jets rank 11th in total defense, but 30th in total offense. Boyle is hoping to alleviate some of the pressure on the offensive line, saying Tuesday that he plans to bring a quickness to the field.
“I think my priority this week is going to be getting the ball out on time, not trying to take sacks, so I think just getting the ball in our playmakers’ hands, letting them have fun with it, and just keeping us on pace. I want to get down in the red zone and score some points. I think that’s going to be an important focus for us this week. Just getting down there and putting points on the board. Especially against a potent offense like the Dolphins have.”
But the Jets will face challenges on both sides of the ball as the Dolphins are undoubtedly a dual-threat team.
Miami’s defense was the highlight of Sunday’s win over the Raiders. They turned the ball over three times for just the second time this season, but Las Vegas was limited to just 36 yards rushing and 260 yards passing and was stopped on two fourth-down attempts.
Quarterback Aidan O’Connell was also intercepted in the third quarter to stop a potential comeback.
“I think you live and learn each and every week with success or failure, and you try to evolve to your players, and coach your players so that they can get mistakes corrected,” head coach Mike McDaniel said Monday.
“I think that we have had positives in certain games and negatives. I think that the stat lines were healthier probably at the beginning of the season. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to go ahead and retool the toolbox. I think our guys are playing confident. What does the game look like if you don’t turn over the ball three times? That’s kind of how I look at it. If we weren’t able to move the ball, I’d probably feel differently in that particular game. But each individual game is independent of itself and as long as you don’t have overly consistent themes with regard to the plays you’re running or the issues that you’re having, you’re all right and you need to just keep moving forward in the season like we are this week.”
WHERE TO WATCH
The Thanksgiving Day celebrations will continue Friday with a 3 p.m. ET kickoff from MetLife Stadium on Amazon Prime Video.