IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER, THE WILDCAT IS HERE TO STAY

                                                                               Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

It’s been a topic of discussion since the Miami Dolphins unveiled the “Wildcat” last season and surprised (and easily defeated) the New England Patriots:  is the Wildcat just a gimmick?; is it a fad that will go away quickly?; or, is it a new (but, some would say, very old single wing-like) offense that will change the way offenses play and cause defenses to adjust.

Well, it seemed like an open question, especially later last year when, in their second meeting, the Patriots, obviously (now) well-prepared, shut down the Dolphins and the Wildcat.  The element of surprise, so crucial in their first meeting, disappeared in their second meeting.

JETS-DOLPHINS SHOWS YOU THE FUTURE OF THE WILDCAT

If you were one of many who thought that the Wildcat (or whatever name you want to give it) was just a fad, all you have to do is watch a tape of last week’s Jets-Dolphins game.  Coming in with the best defense in football (at least through the first four games of this season), Rex Ryan had turned the Jets into immediate contenders for the playoffs and beyond.

But when running back Ronnie Brown took the snap and ran left and threw a 21-yard completion on the second offensive play of the game out of the Wildcat (another new wrinkle), you could immediately tell that something had changed in the approach and implementation of the Wildcat.  The Dolphins proceeded to march down the field like it was a high school team they were playing against.  The Dolphins also seemed to effortlessly turn the corner on the Jets defense out of the Wildcat.  You could feel, during this game, that something vastly different was happening to the Dolphins offense – and maybe to the NFL.

TOO MELODRAMATIC?

I don’t think so.  The Dolphins, even with strong-armed (but young and inexperienced) Chad Henne at the helm, haven’t really struck anyone as an offensive juggernaut last year or this year.  But with the stunning talents of Ronnie Brown and a revitalized Ricky Williams, the Wildcat is an offense that fits the Dolphins to a tee.  And, remember, the Dolphins dominated a defense viewed to be one of the best in the NFL (the Jets essentially shut down the vaunted Saints offense the week before).

Rex Ryan couldn’t believe what he saw and certainly acted like a rookie coach during and after the game.  It will be fascinating to see what the Jets do when they play the Dolphins a second time this season in a few weeks.  Unlike the Patriots of a year ago, the Jets had to know that the Dolphins were going to run something out of the Wildcat.  Yet they were helpless trying to stop it.

DOLPHINS AHEAD OF THE PACK WITH THE WILDCAT

While many teams are running some variation of the Wildcat, the Dolphins are ahead of the pack in terms of its execution.  Indeed, the Dolphins are already a team that seems to be drafting with the Wildcat in mind.  They drafted Pat White, the QB from West Virginia, and even had him take a few snaps out of the Wildcat late in the Jets game to further confuse the Jets. 

Once other teams start to regularly draft for the Wildcat (and that may or may not happen), defenses will have to react accordingly.  Watching the Jets try and stop the Dolphins, it seems, at a minimum, defenses will have to get even more athletic to stop guys like Brown, Williams and Pat White.

WHERE DOES ALL OF THIS LEAVE THE QUARTERBACK IN THE WILDCAT?

An interesting question.  We saw Chad Pennington split wide last year as the Dolphins ran their offense.  It seems that would be quite dangerous as, at some point, the other team’s defense is going to go out of its way to hammer the quarterback.  The QB, a protected species in the pocket or when he slides, will become a marked man as a wide receiver over time if the Wildcat is shredding a defense.  Frankly, the future of the Wildcat, it says here, won’t have a QB as wide receiver (unless he’s a great pass catcher).  The QB will either be on the bench or, you’ll have QBs like Pat White or (dare I say it, even though he doesn’t want to hear it) Michael Vick.       

THE FUTURE IS NOW FOR THE WILDCAT

All in all, there was a transformation in NFL offense last week in Miami.  After shocking the vaunted Patriots last year, the Dolphins revised the Wildcat this year to improve it and make it very problematic for defenses (even good ones) to defend.  The eternal chess match between offense and defense took an offensive turn last week.  We’ll see where it’s headed.

But the Wildcat, in one form or another, is here to stay.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.

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