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Wide awake Jets off to fast start

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Head coach Todd Bowles spent months preparing for the New York Jets’ trip to London. It proved to be an effort well-spent.

The Jets raced out to a 10-point first quarter lead Sunday and had little trouble dispatching of the Miami Dolphins 27-14 in the franchise’s first regular-season game outside North America.

Bowles augmented his off-season research into a London trip by bringing in sleep specialists to advise the Jets on how to get the most rest possible despite the difference in time zones. Players were equipped with tinted glasses to darken their rooms and asked to sleep with masks over their eyes.

The advice certainly seemed to work as the Jets displayed far more energy than the lethargic Dolphins, whose head coach, Joe Philbin, was fired on Monday.

“They came out with some energy,” Bowles said of the Jets. “The rest they got in the hotel was real good. We came out fast.”

Speaking of fast, the Jets are now off to a 3-1 start. The last three Jets’ teams to start with at least three wins in their first four games all made the playoffs (2010, 2009 and 2004). And while Sunday’s win was not without flaws – the Jets were flagged for 14 penalties, the third-highest total in team history – it should provide New York some momentum heading into the bye week.

“It feels good going into the break 3-1 instead of 2-2,” Bowles said. “So it gives us a chance to start the second quarter of the season (on) a good note. We know we’ve got a lot of things to clean up.”

REPORT CARD VS. DOLPHINS

–PASSING OFFENSE: B. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (16-of-29, 218 yards, one touchdown, one interception) got off to a high-flying start by completing his first four pass attempts for 111 yards as the Jets raced out to a 10-0 lead. Fitzpatrick cooled off considerably thereafter, other than a masterful two-minute drill at the end of the first half that ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass to WR Eric Decker (four catches for 46 yards), but did his part to deliver the quick strike the Jets needed to bury the glass-jawed Dolphins. Three of Fitzpatrick’s first four completions went to WR Brandon Marshall (seven catches for 128 yards) for 89 yards. Marshall is on pace for a team-record 120 catches and 1,600 yards. Decker (four catches for 46 yards) returned after missing week three with a knee injury. Finding a legitimate No. 3 receiver is a looming issue for the Jets, who won’t be able to get away with Fitzpatrick playing catch with Marshall and Decker against better opponents.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: A. Days like these are when running back Chris Ivory (29 carries for a career-high 166 yards, one touchdown) looks like a true franchise back. He gained five yards or more on a whopping 14 carries against a defense that was supposedly built to stop the run. Ivory finished with 91 yards after contact, the most by any player this season. The Jets’ struggles last week, when they gained just 47 yards with Ivory active but sidelined due to groin and quad injuries, make it clear Ivory is their most valuable player – especially with nobody behind him. With RB Bilal Powell (groin) sidelined early, Fitzpatrick (nine rushes for 34 yards) was the Jets’ second-leading rusher. RB Zac Stacy finished with seven yards, despite a long carry of 11 yards.

–PASS DEFENSE: A minus. The Jets never gave scattershot Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (19-of-44, 198 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions) a chance to get into a rhythm. Tannehill was blitzed 35 times, the highest blitz percentage absorbed by a quarterback this season. On third or fourth down, Tannehill was 5-of-15 for 33 yards, two interceptions and no first downs. No. 1 WR Jarvis Landry (four catches for 40 yards) did little after he was surprisingly shadowed by CB Darrelle Revis. Tannehill did manage to throw touchdown passes to a pair of secondary weapons, WR Kenny Stills and TE Jake Stoneburner.

–RUN DEFENSE: A-minus. The Dolphins barely tried to establish the run on a day in which Landry (two carries for 29 yards) was their leading rusher. RB Lamar Miller, who had a 97-yard touchdown run against the Jets in the 2014 finale, gained 26 yards on seven carries. The Dolphins had just four other carries.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus. For the second time this season, special teams struggles marred an otherwise impressive win. K Nick Folk missed a 40-yard field goal, though all but one of his kickoffs sailed into the end zone. Landry racked up 67 yards on just three punt returns and set up the Dolphins’ second touchdown with a 28-yard return early in the fourth quarter. Three of the five punts by P Ryan Quigley traveled less than 40 yards. WR Jeremy Kerley had 42 yards on four punt returns.

COACHING: B. Head coach Todd Bowles, coming off the worst game of his brief career, did a terrific job of getting the Jets refocused and ready during a distraction- and travel-filled week. The Jets set an early tone by attacking the vulnerable Dolphins on both sides of the ball. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey struck quick in the passing game before relying on Ivory to grind down the Dolphins. Defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers dialed up the appropriate game plan for the flustered Tannehill. One quibble: A Rex Ryan-like 14 penalties.


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