From the second the ball left Brett Favre's hand, you realized this was a different Jets offense. The ball arced beautifully, over 50 yards into the sky, and you got excited. Without even seeing the result, you knew. This was not Chad Pennington.
Anatomy of a Play
Part 1: Dummy audible
Favre pretended to notice something in the defense. He began making hand and arm gestures and barking calls. Cotchery, to Favre's left, adjusted his alignment, moving closer to Favre. Brad Smith, to Favre's right, went in motion.
It appeared Favre was calling an audible -- changing the play or protection, or both. But, in fact, it was a DUMMY audible. Favre's acting job and the repositioning of the wide receivers before the snap were intentional and calculated disguises, created by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. In fact, everything about the play went exactly as scripted.
Schottenheimer anticipated the Dolphins would play quarters on first down from the 42-yard line, because that's what Miami had shown in the preseason. So he called a play-action pass, with maximum, eight-man protection and a two-receiver route combination to attack the quarters coverage. Cotchery's route was a deep post-corner, first bending in at the safety and then back over the top of cornerback Andre Goodman.
Schottenheimer's goal with the dummy audible was to get Miami's defenders thinking, "What is Brett Favre doing?"
Part 2: Hidden ball trick
While the defense was still thinking audible, the ball was snapped, and the Dolphins were forced to react. The first thing they saw was RUN, right at them. From the offensive line firing out, to the fullback attacking Joey Porter, to Thomas Jones juking and cutting into the line of scrimmage. The play-action was brilliant.
But Favre's ball fake was the best. Linebackers are like big-mouthed bass, you've got to show them the lure. Favre initially held out the ball so the defense could see it, then tucked it into his midsection just as Jones passed by. Where the ball went was a mystery to the Dolphins, who all were staring into the backfield, wondering.
The hesitation by the defense was all the Jets needed. As Favre released the ball, Cotchery was streaking through Goodman's deep quarter.
Favre still might look like a stranger in his New York Jets uniform, but he still can throw the football a long way, and that is a welcome change in Jet-land. Moreover, the Jets' running game with Jones will be improved, and designed big plays off of play-action, like this one against Miami, will be there for Favre to make.