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Dolphins Prepare For Challenge From Sam Darnold, New York Jets

Alex Donno
September 13, 2018 - 11:17 am
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The Miami Dolphins passed their first test of 2018. They out-lasted the Tennessee Titans and four hours of lightning delays, to win the longest game in NFL history (7:08), by a 27-20 final score. 

Now, they'll hit the road for the first time to face and old rival with a new quarterback. 

Jets rookie signal caller Sam Darnold overcame a shaky start to finish with the poise of a veteran. The second overall draft pick threw a pick sic to the Detroit Lions on his first NFL pass. He finished the game with a pair of touchdown tosses, 198 yards and just five incompletions. He was nearly perfect after his imperfect start. His team steamrolled the Lions 48-17. 

Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase had this to say about Darnold: “Any time you can bounce back from the first play of the game like that, that’s impressive. He was able to get into a little bit of a rhythm. I think (Jets Offensive Coordinator/QBs Coach) Jeremy Bates is a really good coordinator. People don’t remember that he had the No. 2 offense in 2008 with Denver. They were rolling. (Jay) Cutler, that was the year he went to the Pro Bowl. He knows what he’s doing. Now he has another opportunity with a young quarterback. I’d expect no less because I know how he’s going to call plays and how he’s coaching those guys. They’re going to be successful. They’re going to be tough to go against. He’ll have them ready to go and he’ll do what’s best for the quarterback every week to make sure that he has success.”

It wasn't just Gase who commented on Darnold. The Jets quarterback was the topic du jour during Wednesday's locker room session. 

Ryan Tannehill: “He responded well. Obviously the first play … but the way he responded was admirable. You definitely respect how he bounced back from that and found a way to lead his team and get a W.”

Minkah Fitzpatrick: “He’s a good player. I played against him back in college. I’ve watched him play other games. He’s a great quarterback. He was drafted high for a reason. The Jets picked him for a reason and they have him starting for a reason. It’s a big challenge for us, but we just have to do our job. He has a lot of strengths. He puts the the ball into good windows. He is smart with the ball. He’s not going to try to force throws. He’s going to check it down. He’s going to be smart with it. He’s going to try to manage the game. He’s not going to just try to get chunk plays. He’s going to try to dink and dunk and move down the field.”

TJ McDonald (Asked if Darnold looked like a rookie): “He didn’t. He didn’t get flustered. They said it on TV a lot, but he was poised and that’s a tribute to his hard work and his confidence level, so hats off to him.”

This and that

The Jets are currently a 3-point favorite in the game. It will be played on their home field, but Dolphins fans always travel well to the Meadowlands (including those who live in the area) just as the Jets travel well to Hard Rock Stadium. 

Dolphins long-snapper John Denney, who suffered a shoulder injury against the Titans, will play on Sunday. This is significant not only because he's good at his job, but because Denney holds the longest active streak in the NFL for consecutive games played. Sunday will be his 210th straight appearance since he arrived in Miami in 2005. 

Wide receiver DeVante Parker, who missed the Titans game with a broken finger, returned to practice on Wednesday and is likely to play this week. The questions is: will he start? Miami's receiving corps looked great last Sunday without him. The rotation of Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, and Danny Amendola have a rhythm since the preseason. It won't be automatic for Parker to waltz in and dominate the snap count. 

Miami's running backs played well against Tennesee and it started with solid blocking up front. Adam Gase had this to say about his offensive line:

“I thought the guys did a really good job of executing what we asked them to do. Really, we felt like a lot of those things were happening in practice but sometimes it’s hard (to tell) because our defense, there will be days when we’re going against those ends and Cam (Wake) shuts a lot of things down when we run to his side. We don’t want to just get in the habit of running one way in practice because he’s on the other side. I think the positioning of what their defense was doing and some of the things that we had called, our guys did a really good job of executing and understanding why we were doing it. With them, the tight ends and the running backs, they were all on the same page. We executed most of our runs fairly well.”

As a result, Frank Gore ran for 61 yards on 9 carries and Kenyan Drake added 14 carries for 48 yards. The Dolphins are 12-2 under Adam Gase when they run for at least 100 yards as a team. Establishing ground control against a Todd Bowles defense is never easy, but could be necessary for Miami to earn a victory this Sunday. 

The Dolphins face the Jets this Sunday at 1:00pm from Met Life Stadium. You can listen to the game on 560 WQAM, with our coverage getting under way at 9:00 AM.