With the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Matt Moore for the first time on Monday Night Football, against division rival New York Jets, Miami is going to need their wide receivers to step up and make some plays. So far this year, that's been a tall order for most of the corps, and squaring off against the New Yorks Jets' Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie won't make the job any easier.
Obviously, Revis is New York's top cornerback, and typically shadows opponent's number one receiver, shutting him down for most of the game. However, last season, the Jets utilized Cromartie on Miami's number one, Brandon Marshall. Marshall and Cromartie have history in the AFC West, when they were with the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers, respectively. The first game of 2010, Marshall ate Cromartie, catching 10 balls for 166 yards. But, the second match up was a different story, with Cromartie harassing Marshall all game, and holding him to just 2 catches for 16 yards.
I think the Jets will put Cromartie on Marshall again this game, with last year's success as only part of the reasoning. We all read about Marshall's recent prediction to be ejected before halftime this week. Included in there, he talked about his past with Cromartie, and how the have faced off before. If I'm the Jets, I'm putting Cromartie over there, just to see if he can push Marshall's buttons.
That leaves Revis and third cornerback Kyle Wilson to cover Brian Hartline and Davone Bess. Last season, Revis covered Bess, but Hartline wasn't available. I think Revis takes on Hartline, who has developed into a weapon for the Dolphins, both running routes, and as a deep threat. He's also proven an ability to make the tough catch, which will be balls that are attractive for Revis to (1) break up or (2) make play for the interception.
That leaves Bess, who is becoming one of the top slot receivers not named Wes Welker, to be covered by second year corner Wilson.
Matt Moore is going to have to throw the ball this week. Rookie running back Daniel Thomas should be back from injury, but the Jets are going to try to make the Dolphins throw. If Moore is able to get into rhythm with any of the receivers, the Dolphins could have success. But, it's not going to be easy.
I think the temptation to put Revis on Marshall will be there, and the Jets could do it. But, with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's tendency to move Marshall into the slot, a position Revis doesn't not like to cover, I again think Revis on Hartline makes more sense.
The Dolphins will probably simplify things in the passing game to ensure Moore has a handle on the offense. That, along with the return of Thomas, and Marshall's realization that he needs to bring some emotion back to his game to have success, could be what brings Miami over the top in this game.
After all, if Ted Ginn, Jr. can burn Revis, Marshall and Hartline have to be able to do it, at least once, right?