*In a game between two incomplete football teams angling for three-game winning streaks, it was the Dolphins who prevailed, 27-23 down in Miami. *
Here's what we learned...
- If nothing else, the game perfectly illustrated why both teams are in a tight battle for last place in the division. Miami handed the Jets a late lead thanks to a botched catch by punter Matt Darr only to gain it back again on the ensuing kickoff. A 96-yard kickoff return by Kenyan Drake was made possible thanks to ... an offsides penalty on the original kickoff by Antonio Allen. Both teams were pushing 10 penalties apiece on Sunday, with the ultimate difference being a pair of ill-timed interceptions by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Jets linebacker Julian Stanford tackling a tight end on a clutch third-and-1, which earned him a pass interference penalty that helped seal the game in the process, did not help matters.
- Speaking of Fitzpatrick, that should be it for the gun-slinging journeyman. It's been a pleasure. Watching Fitzpatrick play when he's rolling is akin to admiring a great playground athlete. He's daring, with a vintage rambling quality to his game. But now, the team is 3-6. They will almost certainly miss the playoffs and fade into the background without much noise down the stretch. Unless Sunday's backup Bryce Petty is entirely incapable, the team needs to discover what they have -- and potentially activate 2016 second-round pick Christian Hackenberg on game day to simulate a more intense preparation. The future is now.
- Our resident scouting expert Bucky Brooks helped peg nicely the rise of Jay Ajayi this week, noting that the Dolphins scheme finally came to meet the running back's desire to make one-cut attacks from seven or eight yards deep. That was evident when the bruiser put up 111 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown against the Jets on Sunday. While it wasn't another 200, it may have been the most encouraging performance by the promising young power back yet. Ajayi showed Sunday an ability to roll with the punches early in the game and counter a vicious Jets defensive front with some smart, efficient running. He now has 529 yards and four touchdowns over his last three games.
- Jets receiver Brandon Marshall may go down as the most admirable teammate in recent NFL memory. Last week, the thought of being traded at the deadline nearly brought him to tears. But the truth is, he's playing excellent football in a place where excellent football is hard to find on a consistent basis. He would have made a fantastic addition to a contending team down the stretch. Marshall was still making one-armed quick slant grabs on Sunday despite some violent press-man coverage from Byron Maxwell. It was perhaps the only true bright spot for a veteran-laden Jets offense which is puzzled to the core. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was throwing in short-yardage situations, seemingly trusting Marshall more than veteran running back Matt Forte to move the sticks.
- After some early tumult, Adam Gase could be putting himself into contention for new head coach of the year. The rapid firing and hiring of starters is always a hit or miss proposition in a new place, but it allowed Gase to find his ideal set of run blocking offensive linemen. While it has not translated to the quarterback position -- Ryan Tannehill was 17-of-28 for 149 yards and a touchdown on Sunday -- it did show that Gase's strengths as a play caller extend beyond the quarterback guru moniker. Understanding that this team is built to run the football and complement with an assertive possession receiver like Jarvis Landry, Gase has Miami at 4-4 with an extremely winnable slate (Chargers, Rams, 49ers, Ravens) up ahead.