Due to the recent discussion about the quarterback battle between Mark Sanchez and Chad Henne and the heated discussions about who's going to the win the AFC East, I felt like a position by position breakdown between the dolphins and jets would be an appropriate post (I do think the Jetswill be our biggest competition for the division).I will place every position battle into one of five categories: clear advantage to the dolphins, slight advantage to the dolphins,push over(tie), slight advantage to the jets, clear advantage to the jets. Due to the uncertainty of starters at every postion at this point in the offseason I will also state my projected starters at every position. When I breakdown these position battles I am referring to the way I feel these players will play next year. This is NOT supposed to be a comparison of player's entire career.
Projected starters: Chad Henne, Mark Sanchez
Analysis: This matchup has gotten a lot of attention the past few weeks. Chad Henne has the stronger arm, and can make a few more throws than Sanchez. Henne was thrown out into the water when Pennington went down early last year. He was able to go 7-6 as a starter without a suspect defense, no number one wide receiver, and with his best offensive weapon , Ronnie Brown, going down. The addition of Brandon Marshallcan only increase his progress. Mark Sanchez really managed the Jets well to the AFC championship. Very few rookie quarterbacks have ever be able to lead their team to one playoff win let alone two road playoff roads. Both quarterbacks threw more ints than touchdowns (not uncommon for young quarterbacks). Sanchez threw 12 tds to 20 ints while Henne threw 12 tds to 14 ints. Henne also happened to throw a much higher completion percentage. I think the bottom line is Henne was able to do much more with less around him. I give a slight advantage to the Dolphins.
Projected Starters: Lou Polite, Tony Richardson
Analysis: Last year, both of these players were considered to be at the top of the fullback position. Lou Polite was perfect in converting 3rd and short or 4th and short when the Dolphins handed him the ball. That stat is amazing to me. Now I know a lot of Jet fans will say that because Richardson got the pro bowl vote this should be an advantage to the Jets. I have a few things to counter that thought process. One, the pro bowl is a popularity contest, and it always will be. Richardson's fantastic career for the past 15 years was what got him that pro bowl vote not last year's performance. If you dont believe me check out profootballfocus.com stats. Out of the 29 fullbacks rated Lou Polite was rated as the 2nd best fullback, while Tony Richardson was rated as the 28 fullback. Lou Polite is in the prime of his career, while Tony Richardson is near retirement. Also Richardson is strictly used as a blocking fullback, while Lou runs the ball here and there and even catches a few balls every once in a while. I give a slight advantage to the Dolphins (I can hear jet fans complaining about this one in the back of my head).
Projected Starters: Ronnie Brown, Shonn Greene
Analysis: This is the first position I am talking about where backups also receive a lot of playing time so I will also refer to both backup players in this post. Ronnie is coming off another season-ending injury. When healthy Ronnie brings more to the table than just the stat sheet. Ronnie is the definition of a complete back. He can block, he can run inside and outside, he can catch the ball of the backfield, and he adds the wildcat component to our offense. Ricky Williamsreally isn't the complete back that Ronnie is, but what Ricky can do is pound the rock inside (he also has some deceptive speed to the edge). Shonn Greene is very similar to Ricky in the fact that he is known as a power back, but also has some underrated speed on the edge. Expectations for Shonn Greene are high, and I think that with his offensive line he has a good chance to achieve them. LT used to be the complete back that Ronnie is (and more). He still has some of same skills. Not to mention LT is an exceptional goal line back. But LT's career is in a rapid decline. I think he will still be a versatile back, but I don't think he will make people miss like he used to. Ricky is 33, but the difference is Ricky has spent a few years away from the game, and he had one of his best seasons last year. If Ronnie was healthy I would give a clear advantage to the Dolphins, but the health of Ronnie remains a question mark. I give a slight advantage to the Dolphins.
Projected Starters: Jake Long(LT), Donald Thomas (LG), Jake Grove(C), Richie Incongito (RG), Vernon Carey (RT), D"Brickashaw Ferguson(LT), Vladimir Ducasse (LG), Nick Mangold(C), Brandon Moore (RG), Damien Woody (RT)
Analysis: Jake Long is one of the best left tackles in the game, if not the best left tackle in the NFL. The only left tackle whom even contains with him as the best is Joe Thomas. Long has quick feet, great hand placement:he has it all. For him to be considered one of the best at his positions in only two years of playing is very impressive. D'Brickashaw Ferguson is a pretty good left tackle himself. I would consider Long a better pass blocker, but I think Ferguson is a tad better run blocker. Donald Thomas has shown flashes of brilliance (remember the hype he created when he started that first jets game his rookie year), but he needs to play more consistent. Vlad Duccasse had a great week at the senior bowl, and really mauled defensive lineman over all week. He is a little bit on the raw side now, but his upside is extremely high. As good as Jake Long is at left tackle, Nick Mangold may be an even better center. Going back to the profocusfootball.com stats, Nick Mangold is rated as the number one center and has a rating of almost double the next best center (). That is amazing to me. Jake Grove is not too shabby himself. I would consider him a top 5 center. Jake Grove and Nick Mangold are similar in pass blocking skills but Nick Mangold blows out Jake Grove and every other center out of the water in run blocking. Richie Incongito is a mauler who will smack you in the mouth. If the Dolphins coaching staff can keep that nasty streak while limiting the penalties, the line will play even better than expected (that's saying a lot). Brandon Moore is virtually the exact opposite of Donald Thomas. If you're watching a Jets game Moore's play may not blow you out of the water; he's the type of player that constantly does his job, no more or less. Damien Woody other than maybe Willie Colonis the best right tackle in the game. Damien can do it all. Vernon Carey is a top five right tackle himself. Although his pass blocking is a little inconsistent, the kid just mauls people. I would say the Dolphins have the advantage at LT and LG while the Jets have the advantage at C and RT. I would say RG is a pushover due to Incongito's talent, but at the same time discipline problems on the field. I think Mangold being the best center and Woody being the best right tackle gives a slight advantage to the jets.
Brandon Marshall is without the question the best acquisition of either team this offseason. The kid is 26, but look at his resume. 3 100 reception seasons (one of which was with Kyle Orton) and two pro bowls. The kid attacks the ball in the air, and break numerous tackles after the catch. Brian Hartline outperformed all expectations last season. He is a very good route-runner, pretty quick, and underrated speed. He has the potential to be a very good number 2 wide receiver, and even if he doesn't we all know that Greg Camarillocan be the number two. Davone Bess is one of the best slot wide receivers. I believe he led the league in receptions completed for a first down on third down. To me that stat is very impressive due to the fact that we had no number one receiver last year to open up the middle of the field. One thing that worries me just a tad about our receivers is as of right now we dont have a consistent down field threat. The Jets receiving core is very similar to the Saintslast year. They not have that one guy that you can point to and say he is a number one wide receiver, but every starting receiver can get open consistently and produce a big play. For Braylon the drops have been a problem recently. But the kid still produces big plays(see touchdown in AFC championship), and can get open even against some of the best corners. Keep in mind he is only a few years removed from a pro bowl year. Santonio Holmes is the deep threat option we don't have. Holmes can beat defenders over the top, and when he does watch out because when he gets the ball in open field he can make a lot of players miss. Jerricho Cotchery does his job every year. He is such a solid player, and now that he has some other weapons around him, he will excel. The number one wide receiver (Brandon Marshall vs. Braylon Edwards) is a clear advantage for us. The number two wide receiver (Brain Hartline vs. Santonio Homles) is a clear advantage for them. I consider the slot receiver a pushover. Therefore I think the wide receiver battle is a pushover.
Projected Starters: Anthony Fasano, Dustin Keller
Anthony Fasano and Dustin Keller are virtually polar opposites in terms of the way they play the tight end positon. Anthony Fasano is one of the better blocking tight ends there is in the game. He is a decent pass catcher but nothing special. He just isn't going to warrant enough coverage to open the field for any other receiver. Joey Haynosis very similar. Pretty good blocker, average at best pass catching skills (for a backup). Dustin Keller is the modern era tight end. The kid is so athletic. He warrents cover from everywhere because he is a wide reciever in a tight end's body.Also Keller is not a great blocker but underrated. Ben Hartsock is not much of a pass catching tight end himself, but is a pretty good run blocker. Now I know that Fascano and Keller are asked to do different things but the value of a great pass catching tight ends in this era of pass happy offenses can not be underestimated. I give the Jets a slight advantage at the tight end position.
I was gonna to this post in one part but its getting pretty long. Plus I am getting pretty tired of writing and revising this so I do the defense later if requested.