Facing the formidable Ndamukong Suh for the second time this season, the Jets once again handled the Dolphins' front seven by limiting the damage he was able to do. Suh had four tackles (one for a loss) and a quarterback hit, but Miami only had one sack as a team and the Jets were able to rush for 137 yards.
The Jets opted to take a different approach to the challenge of mitigating Suh this time, relying a lot more often on quick-developing plays and hoping their linemen could handle him one-on-one in those situations. There were mixed results here, with right guard Brian Winters getting badly owned by him a few times, including on fourth and short on the first drive and early in the third quarter where he got driven into the backfield and his holding penalty negated a long run.
Manish Mehta of the Daily News tweeted after the game that Winters "won the head-to-head match-up" with Suh both times this season, based solely on Suh's numbers, but the reality was that he rarely had to block him one-on-one and often got blown up when he did. Nevertheless they asked more of him this time than last time, which could be a sign that he's developing and settling into that starting right guard role. I wouldn't go overboard with the praise yet though, because this was still an extremely uneven performance from him.
With Suh lining up wider on passing downs, he was also able to drive Breno Giacomini back a few times, although Giacomini had the most dominant block of the game against him, completely burying him on the outside on the play where Chris Ivory had his long touchdown run. While that wasn't otherwise a well-blocked play, Giacomini definitely won his match-up on that rep and did have some other good run blocks.
Center Nick Mangold held his own more often against Suh, but it wasn't one of his more dominant games. He did have a couple of good run blocks towards the end of the first half though.
The other tackle, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, had a couple of good run blocks, but did allow some penetration. He also false started twice and Giacomini - who also had a holding penalty - did once.
At left guard, James Carpenter had the most positive run blocks on the line, although he also allowed some penetration. His role was perhaps more important in the passing game though. With Giacomini getting beaten several times in pass protection in the first half, the Jets started pulling Carpenter out to the right to help out on that side. This was effective in cutting down the amount of pressure from the left side of the defensive line, but also fed into the running game as the Jets were able to get Carpenter on the move with some pulling run blocks late.
Pulling Carpenter to the right is not something the Jets would have done much with Winters in the line-up in the past because obviously it requires Mangold to block down to the left, leaving Winters exposed to a potential one-on-one match-up with Suh. Winters is still a player that looks bad at times, but it perhaps could be seen as a sign of his development that they had the confidence to build this into their gameplan and have success with it.
Off the bench, Brent Qvale got in for a short yardage rep and was also able to get on the field for the victory formation, along with Wesley Johnson.
In terms of pass protection, the Jets did give up one sack, as Quinton Coples beat Carpenter to lead to Fitzpatrick being sacked by Ferguson's man as he tried to step up. Despite the low sack count, the pass protection was far from perfect though. While Giacomini had a much easier time with Carpenter helping him at times, this exposed Ferguson to an extent and he was driven back in the pocket several times, leading to the aforementioned sack and one big hit on Fitzpatrick.
There was also some interior pressure, as each of the interior linemen was driven back into the quarterback a couple of times and Mangold did get beaten cleanly for a hit. Winters has given up seven pressures in the two Miami games - more than the rest of the season combined.
To sum it up, on Fitzpatrick's first touchdown pass, the announcers praised the pass protection but the reality was that Giacomini got beaten outside, Winters got driven back into Fitzpatrick's lap and Suh shoved Mangold into Fitzpatrick as the pass was being released. In other words, the pass protection would prove just about good enough for Fitzpatrick to get the job done, which was essentially the case all day.
Next up…Right off the bat, Chris Ivory was looking sharp, but it took a while for it to translate to good statistical production…