I’ve said numerous times over the past few days while analyzing Sunday’s Vikings-Dolphins matchup that I expect Miami to try and apply heavy pressure to QB Brett Favre by utilizing blitz packages out of their standard 3-4 defensive alignment. Last week against New Orleans, the Vikings saw an odd-man front but the Saints elected to rush just 3 defenders and drop 8 into coverage on most plays.
The strategy of sitting back and playing coverage defense against Favre worked for New Orleans last week, primarily because the passing offense was a bit out of sync. If Miami employs the same strategy this week, with Favre and Co. in the friendly confines of Mall of America Field, they run the risk of being picked apart by a future Hall of Fame QB and a group of exciting playmakers on offense.
So that’s why I think Miami will be blitzing. As a result of this blitzing, it’ll be the Dolphins secondary who will be relied upon to button things down until the pass rushers get to Favre (I’m hoping they never get there in time. So is Favre).
Let’s take a look at a few of the Dolphins DBs – with help from Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress – who will be charged with stopping Favre and his receivers…
The Dolphins list Yeremiah Bell and Chris Clemons as the starters. Bell is a 7-year pro who led the Dolphins in tackles and was 2nd in INTs during the 2009 season; he also earned his 1st Pro Bowl honor last year. Clemons is younger but is a promising prospect. He was a 4-year letterwinner and 3-year starter at Clemson and is one of the Dolphins fastest players.
Childress described Miami’s safeties as “strong hitters.”
The listed starters are Vontae Davis and Jason Allen, with former Viking Benny Sapp and Sean Smith listed as backups; it sounds like Sapp is the nickel CB. Davis was a highly-touted draft prospect coming out of college was selected with a 1st round pick (#25 overall) by the Dolphins in 2009. He is the brother of San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis, also a 1st round pick, and he played in all 16 games as a rookie in ’09. Childress described Davis as “a very good man-coverage guy.”
Allen is a big CB at 6-1, 200 pounds, and is entering his 5th season out of the University of Tennessee. Smith is also a physical imposing CB at 6-3, 214 pounds and he started all 16 games in 2009 as a rookie for the Dolphins. Childress said Allen plays a lot of “bump man-to-man” and he also said Smith had a “very good rookie year” in ’09.
Sapp brings not only the ability to play nickel CB but also some familiarity with the Vikings offense after spending all of 2008 and 2009 and then the preseason in 2010 with the Vikings. But that street runs both ways, as the Vikings will be familiar with Sapp’s strengths and weaknesses in coverage.
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