QuarterbackThe Dolphins find themselves in better shape at this position than they in a long, long time thanks to the presence of Chad Pennington, Chad Henne and rookie Pat White. After handing the Dolphins Pennington last year because they had to have Brett Favre, the Jets were left to start over this offseason. But they managed to deal well, trading up in the draft to land USC's Mark Sanchez. The Jets better hope that Sanchez can deliver as a rookie because the other options on the roster -- Chris Pizzotti, Kellen Clemens and Erik Ainge -- aren't exactly thrilling.
There seems to be little debate that Sanchez will become a good NFL quarterback at some point, but it's not likely to happen right away.
Big Edge: Dolphins
Running BackThe Dolphins have two established stars here with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, and some nice complementary pieces with Patrick Cobbs and fullback Lousaka Polite. New York has serious contract issues at this position, with both Thomas Jones and Leon Washington unhappy with their contracts. Partly to protect themselves, the Jets traded up in the third round to get Iowa's Shonn Greene, who should be an effective between-the-tackle runner in the NFL. At fullback, the Jets can count on blocking specialist Tony Richardson.
There's a lot of depth on both teams here, but the Jets' potential problems with Jones and Washington tip the scales here.
Slight Edge: Dolphins
Jerricho Cotchery leads what looks like a mediocre Jets wide receiver corps.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Wide ReceiverMuch has been made of the Dolphins' lack of a pure No. 1 receiver, but they do have a lot of numbers at the position thanks to the likes of Greg Camarillo, Ted Ginn Jr., Davone Bess, Patrick Turner, Brandon London and Brian Hartline. The Jets also were expected to go after a big-name free agent wide receiver in the offseason, particularly after they let Laveranues Coles go, but that never happened. As a result, they're left with Jerricho Cotchery and little else. Just check out the names on the roster: Brad Smith, David Clowney, Wallace Wright, Chansi Stuckey, Marcus Henry, Paul Raymond, Huey Whittaker, Mario Urrutia. Yikes.
The Dolphins might not have a great group of wideouts, but it's pretty impressive by comparison.
Clear Edge: Dolphins
Tight EndThe Dolphins got great production from this position last season thanks to Anthony Fasano and David Martin, and they've added to the position with the additions of rookies John Nalbone and Jared Bronson, as well as the expected continued development of Joey Haynos. The Jets drafted Dustin Keller in the first round of the 2008 draft and they made him the unquestionable starter this year by releasing veteran Chris Baker. Keller is a pretty good receiver, but he's not much as a blocker. The Jets don't have a lot of depth behind him, particularly after releasing former Packers starter Bubba Franks not long after signing him.
Fasano is the key here because he has the potential to become an All-Pro-caliber type of tight end. Keller showed flashes last year, but he also dropped too many balls for a receiving specialist.
Clear Edge: Dolphins
Offensive LineThe Dolphins started building the strong foundation of an offensive line last year with the additions of Jake Long, Justin Smiley and Donald Thomas, and they made sure to keep it that way this offseason by re-signing tackle Vernon Carey and adding center Jake Grove to replace Samson Satele. The Jets returns the same offensive line that started last year and it features four former first-round picks: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Alan Faneca and Damien Woody. In terms of starting O-lines, this is about as good as it gets in the NFL. But there's no proven depth whatsoever.
If Smiley and Thomas can make successful returns from their 2008 injuries, the Dolphins have the makings of a very, very good line. But depth is a major concern. Depth also is a concern with the Jets, but their starting five up front probably deserves to get the nod here.
Defensive LineThis is an area for the Dolphins where there will be a lot of attention focused because of the offseason release of veteran Vonnie Holliday and the presence of so many young players, such as Kendall Langford, Phillip Merling, Lionel Dotson, Rodrique Wright and Tony McDaniel. The Dolphins do have a solid veteran in nose tackle Jason Ferguson, although there's a question mark when it comes to his backup. The Jets defense was difficult to run on for most of the season, but that was before nose tackle Kris Jenkins wore down in the final weeks. The Jets need better production from their backups for that not to happen again. The Jets have a good pass rusher at end in Shaun Ellis, but he, too, faded down the stretch. Marques Douglas was brought in from Baltimore to start at right defensive end. There's not much proven depth here.
Both groups lag considerably behind New England's star-studded defensive line, but the Jets really were good up front for most of last season.
Slight Edge: Jets
LinebackerThe Dolphins might not be this strong anywhere else on the roster, except perhaps for running back. All four starters are back from last year, and two-time CFL defensive MVP Cameron Wake and Jason Taylor were brought in for reinforcement as well. This is an area of concern for the Pats, who have seen age become an issue. The Jets also have a very solid starting four with Bryan Thomas, Baltimore import Bart Scott, David Harris and Calvin Pace, although Pace will have to sit out the first four games because of a suspension. The Jets are hoping that 2008 first-round pick Vernon Gholston can help pick up the slack after a miserable rookie season, but reports out of minicamp weren't encouraging. There's little in terms of depth for the Jets.
The additions of Wake and Taylor should answer the need for pass rushing that was the only question mark for the Dolphins at this position. With Pace, the Jets can match the Dolphins' starters, but they can't touch Miami's depth at this position.
Clear Edge: Dolphins
The Jets acquired former Eagles first-round pick Lito Sheppard in the offseason.
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
CornerbackThe Dolphins have revamped this group by bringing in free agent Eric Green and rookie draft picks Vontae Davis and Sean Smith. They join a unit that lost Andre' Goodman to free agency but returns starter Will Allen as well as backups Nathan Jones and Jason Allen. The Jets have one of the top young cornerbacks in the game in 2007 first-round pick Darrelle Revis, who went to the Pro Bowl last season. He will be joined in the starting lineup by Lito Sheppard, acquired in the offseason in a trade with Philadelphia. The Jets have some depth here with the likes of Ahmad Carroll, Donald Strickland and Dwight Lowery, who started 10 games as a rookie in 2008.
On potential alone, the Dolphins could be very good here because both Davis and Smith look like they'll become quality NFL players. But it might take time. Revis alone gives the Jets the advantage here, while getting Sheppard for two draft picks should prove a good trade.
SafetyThe Dolphins made sure to re-sign Yeremiah Bell before he could become a free agent this offseason, and then they won in the trade-off of Gibril Wilson for Renaldo Hill. Fifth-round pick Chris Clemons also looked good enough in the offseason to suggest he'll become a contributor. New Jets head coach Rex Ryan brought in Jim Leonhard from Baltimore, and the heady safety should quarterback the defense. He'll join in the starting lineup playmaker Kerry Rhodes. The Jets don't have much depth here.
This one is tough to call because Rhodes probably is the best of the four starting safeties between the teams, but Bell-Wilson might get the edge as a tandem.
Special TeamsThe Dolphins will be looking for improvement from a unit that really struggled early last season before making some progress later on. The return game has potential with Davone Bess handling punts and Patrick Cobbs handling kickoffs, while Dan Carpenter will be looking to build on a good rookie season. But there needs to be improvement in Brandon Fields' consistency and in the coverage units. Leon Washington is a dynamic returner for the Jets, but he might be replaced on punts this season by Jim Leonhard, who was effective in that role in Baltimore. Jay Feely had a tremendous year for the Jets last year after taking over for the injured Mike Nugent, who is now in Tampa Bay. But the Jets have no reliable punter, so don't be surprised if they wind up going with undrafted rookie T.J. Conley.
This is a battle the Dolphins will lose on paper to just about every year based on last year's results, and the Jets have the more proven players here with the likes of Washington and Feely.
Major Edge: Jets