To continue our preparation for Sunday night's huge division showdown, it's time to preview the passing game. Yes, both offenses attack with a run-first approach, but the potential is there in the passing game. The Dolphins and Jets are banking on Chad Henne and Mark Sanchez to become franchise quarterbacks. So far, we've seen flashes from both, but they still have a lot to prove. The talent around them is there, though. The top notch running games and offensive lines are present on both offenses, and the Dolphins have one of the league's most talented receivers, while the Jets have three guys who have 1,000 yard seasons under their belts (counting Holmes who is still suspended).
On the defensive side of the ball, things aren't so parallel. The Jets possess the best pass defense in football that is attributed to the pressure they bring, just as much as the play of Revis and the secondary. The Dolphins, meanwhile, were near the bottom of the league against the pass a year ago. Mike Nolan is bringing the heat, though, and Vontae Davis and Jason Allen may be ready to emerge as one of the league's better corner tandems. Of course, that's just based off of what we saw them do against a bad Bills' offense and a receiving core missing it's star in Minnesota. Yes, the Dolphins and Jets love to pound the football, but if neither one is overly successful at it with the defenses loading up the box to stop the run, it may come down to who make more plays or less mistakes between Henne and Sanchez.
Jets passing attack vs. Dolphins secondary
Sanchez arguably had his best showing as a pro last Sunday against the Patriots. In Week 1, though, he led a completely inept offense to only six first downs. Which game was more indicative of what to expect the rest of the season? I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle, and I would be shocked if we saw a similar performance against this new and improved Dolphins' defense.
The big wild card in all of this, is how much playing time Braylon Edwards will get. We know he won't start due to the DWI he was arrested for earlier in the week, but I have a hard time believing Ryan will keep him out for long. He did tear Miami up in his first game as a Jet last season, after all. Whenever he does come into the game, Vontae Davis and Jason Allen will receive their best test yet, assuming, of course, we get the Mark Sanchez from last week and not two weeks ago.
The Dolphins faced Lee Evans in Week 1, and that was about it, and really only Percy Harvin on the wide receiver end last week. Yes, Shiancoe had a solid game, but he was covered by Yeremiah Bell for the majority of that game. Speaking of which, it will interesting to see if Miami abides by the same strategy against another very talented tight end in Dustin Keller. Personally, I would rather see Karlos Dansby matched up against him, but then again, he wouldn't be able to blitz as much.
Whatever the case, if the Dolphins can get to Sanchez like they did Edwards and Favre, they will be just fine. I have a feeling Nolan has been saving some ofhis exotic blitz looks for these two prime time games against the Jets and Patriots.
Dolphins passing attack vs. Jets Secondary
If Dan Henning didn't trust Chad Henne enough to air it out against a suspect Vikings' secondary, he would be insane to test the best pass defense in football, right? Well, I think it had more to do with having the lead, than the team they were facing. For some reason, Henning just likes to go in a shell when the Dolphins are winning and the defense is playing well. Criticize him now, but if Henne would have went out and threw a couple interceptions attempting 30 plus passes, you would be asking why not be more conservative.
For the offense as whole to be successful against the Jets defense, they are going to have to avoid third and long. That's when the Jets like to blitz up to seven and eight defenders. Typically, they like to attack one side of the defense or gap, creating more rushers than the offensive line can block. Your only hope there is to either complete a shot pass underneath and hope the receiver can produce some yards after catch, or just throw up a jump ball against single coverage. Considering, how complete the Jets' defense is, the Dolphins will undoubtedly find themselves in some of those situations. That's when Brandon Marshall comes into play, and Revis being out of the lineup is beneficial.
Marshall may be one of the few players that can make plays against Revis, but it would still be risky business throwing in that direction. With Cromartie in coverage, though, Marshall may be able to outmuscle him on some 50-50 balls. Although Cromartie is more lengthy and has great ball skills, Revis is the more physical corner, and thus a better matchup with Marshall. Make no mistake, though, Cromartie is no scrub. He's already got two picks on the year, and completely shut down Randy Moss in the second-half last week after Revis hurt his hamstring.