Just two days after the New York Jets landed Santonio Holmes, the Miami Dolphins let the NFL know that they won't stand still and watch Rex Ryan try to take the AFC East crown by collecting every troubled-but-talented star in the league.
By trading two second-round picks for Brandon Marshall, the Dolphins boast the best wide receiver in the AFC East and announced to the Jets and Patriots that they're serious contenders. New England's Randy Moss is past his prime, and while Holmes owns Super Bowl MVP hardware, Marshall is easily one of the top three wideouts in the game -- a physical nightmare for defensive coordinators everywhere.
But there's one defensive guru who undoubtedly will welcome the challenge of stopping Marshall. As soon as the trade broke, the proud Ryan probably smiled, chuckled and thought to himself, Bring it, Miami! The heated Dolphins-Jets rivalry got a lot spicier Wednesday, and no one loves a good challenge more than Ryan.
Should the Jets be worried about the Dolphins? Let's not forget, the Dolphins beat the Jets twice last season -- but they did so by Nov. 1. The two rivals did not play after that, which was well before the Jets and rookie Mark Sanchez meshed late and formed their true identity, winning seven of eight games to get to the AFC Championship game.
The Jets may still have trouble stopping Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams this season, but no team is better equipped to handle Marshall than the Jets.
Instead of flipping the finger at rowdy Dolphins fans, Ryan can point them and the Dolphins in the direction of Revis Island. Ryan possesses the best lockdown corner in the business, Darrelle Revis, to check the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history. Marshall -- who agreed to a four-year, $47.5 million extension -- can ask Andre Johnson, Moss, Steve Smith, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and several other top-flight wide receivers just how good Revis is. Revis shut down all those wideouts last season.
Now we'll not only get to see the Dolphins and Jets spar in their annual hate-fest reunions, but we get Revis versus Marshall twice a season.
It's a good bet Revis will soon begin preparing on how to cover Marshall. Revis loves studying opposing wide receivers and he probably will be calling good friend and mentor Ty Law, if he hasn't already, to get added inside info on Marshall. Law -- who, like Revis, grew up in Aliquippa, Pa. -- played for the Broncos last season.
The fearless Revis chimed in on the Marshall trade Wednesday morning on his Twitter page, praising the Dolphins' move but sounding confident, like he always does.
"What's up everyone," Revis tweeted. "Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins huh. That's a good look for them."
Marshall can rack up catches like no one else. The prolific receiver has 101 or more receptions in each of the past three seasons. He set the NFL record for most receptions in a game with 21 against the Colts last season.
At 6-4, 230, the physically imposing Marshall is much bigger than the 5-11, 198-pound Revis and is downright deadly with the ball after the catch. But during the season opener last year against Houston, Revis held the 6-3, 225-pound Johnson to four receptions for 35 yards.
With Antonio Cromartie covering the other side for the Jets, Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne will not have an easy time throwing on Ryan's secondary. Henne has shown great promise, but he'll have to throw on Revis just to get Marshall the ball -- and that's a dangerous proposition for a young, developing quarterback entering his second year as a starter.
He certainly showed no fear when he connected on a 53-yard touchdown bomb with Ted Ginn Jr. against Revis -- a rare occasion when Revis was burned -- during the Dolphins' 31-27 victory over the Jets on Oct. 12.
But knowing Revis, he wants payback and probably is already getting ready for Marshall. And that's why Ryan probably is smiling after the Dolphins' big move.
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the NFL for ESPNNewYork.com.