3 keys for the Jets Week 18 game against the Dolphins

Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner celebrates a defensive stop against the Seahawks.
Sauce Gardner
AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez

The Jets were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday when they lost their fifth-straight game to the Seahawks in Seattle, but they still have one more regular season contest coming up on Jan. 8. 

While they don’t have a chance to make the postseason, the team will surely be looking to end the season on a high note against the Miami Dolphins — rather than losing six games to cap off their stunning collapse. 

Robert Saleh, the second-year head coach, will undoubtedly be hyping up their team to go out and win. 

Meanwhile, the Dolphins need to win to keep their season alive (they also need a loss by the Patriots, who are playing the Bills at the same time on Sunday). 

That means Miami won’t be resting their starters, and will be coming out to play as well as they can. 

So, what do the Jets need to do to end their season with a win? Here are three keys for Gang Green in Week 18. 

The Jets secondary vs. Tyreek Hill

Tyreek Hill is arguably the best receiver in football — but the Jets secondary has been among the best in the NFL this season, so fans should expect a solid battle between those two. 

Through 16 games on the year, Hill is averaging 7.3 receptions for 105.4 yards per game, and has recorded seven total touchdowns on the year.  

Last time the two teams played, though, the Jets managed to hold the electrifying pass catcher to just 47 yards and no scores. 

That was largely due to Sauce Gardner — the rookie cornerback who the Jets drafted 4th overall in 2022. 

Gardner, along with fellow cornerback D.J. Reed, and safeties Jordan Whitehead and Lamarcus Joyner, have been outstanding all year. 

The Jets have given up the second-least amount of passing yards this year at just 3,080 and the second-least amount of passing touchdowns at 15.

It’s not clear who will be playing quarterback for Miami (either Teddy Bridgewater or Skylar Thompson) as starter Tua Tagovailoa is out with yet another concussion, but either way, Hill is a threat. 

The Jets secondary will need to perform well again against the dynamic receiver if they want to walk away victorious. 

Keep Mike White upright  

The Jets will be with quarterback Mike White under center. 

After the team benched former second-overall pick Zach Wilson in Week 11, White came in and played admirably before suffering a rib injury after just three games. 

He then missed the next two, before returning last week for a rough performance where he saw a 50% completion rate, along with two interceptions and no scores. 

White was clearly still injured from his rib issues — which should worry all Jets fans looking to be victorious. 

Meanwhile, Jets passers have been sacked 42 times this season, which is the 12th most in the NFL. 

Now, White had another week to rebound, but it will be up to the offense line to keep him from being pressured and sacked all game. 

Sack the Miami backup

On the flip side, the Jets are going to need to pressure the Miami signal caller (whether that be Bridgewater or Thompson). 

With Tagovailoa sidelined, the Jets will be going against a quarterback that has not had a seasons-worth of experience under center with this Miami roster. 

That should give the team some better chances to bring pressure against Miami in the passing game. 

The Dolphins have been fairly good at keeping their quarterback upright, as they’ve surrendered just 34 sacks (24th-most in the NFL), but they’re going against a solid Jets pass rush on Sunday. 

Through the season, the Jets have the seventh-most sacks of opposing quarterbacks at 44. They also lead the league in times that they’ve knocked down quarterbacks at 68. 

The New York defense is going to need to play well if they want to aid the struggling offense, and pressing the opposing quarterback is the best way to do it.

For more coverage of the Jets, head to amNY.com.