Who would have thought, almost two years after beating Favre and the Jets in the Meadowlands to win the AFC East, the Dolphins would be gearing up to play ol’ No.4 again. We talked about the running game on Tuesday, and we know how important it will be for the Dolphins to get something going on the ground against the very stout Viking front seven. We also know that the key to stopping the Vikings offense starts with shutting down Adrian Peterson. With both secondaries having their share of issues in the past, though, both Favre and Henne should get plenty of opportunities to make plays down the field.
Vikings passing attack vs. Dolphins secondary
Let me just start by saying the Dolphins secondary looked great last week. Even when the pressure wasn’t getting there, it seemed as though Trent Edwards had nowhere to go with the ball down field. Of course, that deserves a big whippty do, you shut down arguably the worst passing offense in football. I can’t even say totally shut down, because there was still the Tyrone Culver whiff in coverage that resulted in a Roscoe Parrish touchdown on 4th and 11. Rusty Brett Favre and no Sydney Rice or not, the Vikings will be this secondaries first true test. The Saints defense obviously handled them pretty well last week, and the Dolphins need to follow the same blueprint. Hit Favre early and often. We saw Mike Nolan unload some his new looks against the Bills last week, especially early on, and the result was non-stop pressure on Trent Edwards. If the Dolphins can have similar success against the Vikings, which is a huge IF considering that the Bills have one of the worst offensive lines in the league, we could see Brett Favre revert back to his old gunslinger self and try to force some throws.
Last week the Dolphins forced Edwards into two horrible decisions that should have resulted in Miami touchdowns. Benny Sapp dropped the first, then Jason Allen saw what would have been the game-clinching pick six go in and out of his hands. If those opportunities present themselves on Sunday, the Dolphins won’t be able to get away with not capitalizing against a Super Bowl caliber team like the Vikings. Individually, Karlos Dansby should get plenty of opportunities matched up against Visanthe Shiancoe, who was Favre’s go-to threat against the Saints with no Sydney Rice. As far as Percy Harvin goes, it will be interesting to see if the Dolphins cover him the same way they did Lee Evans a week ago. For much of the game, they put Jason Allen on Evans, with Chris Clemons providing help over the top. If they play Harvin the same way, expect Vontae Davis to be put on an island against Benard Berrian and Greg Camarillo.
Dolphins passing attack vs. Vikings secondary
Dinking and dunking and isn’t going to cut it against the Vikings. That’s only going to make things harder on the running game, and give an unproven secondary a pass. For the Dolphins offense to click, both on the air and on the ground, Henne is going to have to air it out a bit, and connect on some shots down field. That should keep the extra defender out of the box, providing a little extra room for Ronnie and Ricky to get the running game going, and open things up for the short stuff later on. For that to happen, though, Henne is going to have to have some time back there. Personally, I didn’t think the three sacks last week were the offensive line’s fault. Henne had time, but, either nobody got open, or he was just being indecisive.
The match-up between Jake Long and Jared Allen is obviously going to be key in giving Henne the time he needs to go vertical on the Vikings’ secondary. Assuming Henne gets quality protection, he still needs to go through his progressions. Last week, and at times last season, it was evident he was locking onto his targets. Physically, he has the arm to pick apart the Vikings’ defense. He’s just got to be mentally sound, take chances down field when the opportunity presents itself, and check-down when his primary options are well covered. Obviously, easier said then done, but we saw him do it at times last season. Considering, the secondary is really the Vikings only weakness, what better week to play like he did against the Jets on Monday Night Football and at home against the Patriots last year.