While the Miami Dolphins have been enjoying their last real hiatus before the grind of the season starts, Dwyane Wade frenzy has taken all of the local media attention. However while the South Florida airwaves were hijacked with NBA free-agency talk some Dolphin Fans were able to sneak a few Phin’s related questions in on local Talk Radio. While there were very few good topics brought up, one that continues to drive me a little crazy is whether the Dolphins will scrap the very successful, but frequently criticized Wildcat offense. The simple answer to this question….. NO WAY!
Everyone thinks the Wildcat was used to make up for a lack of playmakers on the Dolphin’s roster. Now the most popular reasoning people have as to why they think the Phin’s will dump the Wildcat, is because of the addition of WR Brandon Marshall. One of the reasons the Wildcat helped the Phin’s so much was due to the fact that other teams were forced to dedicate 2-3 entire days of practice during any particular game week to try and stop the Wildcat. Do you really think that Sparano and Company want to take away the Wildcat so the opposing defense can spend those days searching for more weaknesses or ways to stifle Brandon Marshall. I think not!
As the Wildcat evolved during the 2009 Season, it got away from the gimmicky offense it became at times during 2008. The Dolphin’s managed to use the Wildcat as a very successful Power Running Formation in ’09. The Wildcat is very similar to a Goal Line or Double Tight End I-Formation, except for the fact that it allows the Phin’s to have more weapons on the field. This means in the Wildcat Formation the Dolphins can line up with the likes of Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Patrick Cobbs, Anthony Fasano, either a second Tight End or a Wide Receiver such as Brandon Marshall or Davone Bess, and still keep Chad Henne on the field if they want the added threat. This offers a myriad of match up advantages over the more common Power Running Formations.
As for the Cold Hard Facts which are also known as Stats lets take a look at the 2009 Season. Since the Phin’s all but trashed the Wildcat after the Ronnie Brown injury last season lets compare the 8.5 games played in ’09 with the Wildcat to the 7.5 played after the Ronnie Brown injury. During the first 8.5 games of ’09 the Dolphins Running Game ranked in the top of the league. 164 yards per game, 1.5 TD per game, 4.59 yards per carry, 22 carries per TD. In the 7.5 games without the Wildcat; 112 yards per game, 1 TD per game, 4.08 yards per carry, and 35 carries per TD. That equates to nearly 50 yards per game, 0.5 TD per game, 0.51 yards per carry, and 13 carries per TD. Those are game…. no, no, no SEASON changing statistics, and just another reason why the Wildcat isn’t going anywhere Phin Phans.
So is the Wildcat, or as it’s better known in South Florida “El Gato Loco”, a fad? Is it a gimmick that won’t last? Is it “disrespectful to all Defenses” as Warren Sapp claimed on Showtime’s Inside the NFL? As far as the Miami Dolphins are concerned the answer is an emphatic NO, and I’m sure that Sparano and Company will show that when they head up to Buffalo on September 12th.