Has Practice Prepared Phins For Wild Cat?
By Brian Miller
The Oakland Raiders will likely give the Miami Dolphins a bit of their own medicine come Sunday in the form of the “Wild Cat” offense. Sure Darren McFadden is a question mark with a turf toe injury and let’s face it, he made the Arkansas formation what it was. So far this season the Raiders have been one of a handful of teams who have tried to copy the Dolphins success with the formation. So it begs the question, has the Dolphins practices with the WC been enough for the defense to learn to play against it?
The Dolphins success with the formation has subsided each and every week. While new wrinkles are surely available, and I predict we will see some in the New England game in two weeks, the Phins still use it with varying degrees of success. Of all the NFL teams, the Phins have had and continue to have the most success out of it.
Now they face a team that uses it and regardless of whether McFadden plays or not, the Phins are going to see the formation at least once or twice. Over the last few weeks the Phins have seen defenses stop the WC with some success so there is a model for it. In practices, the defense has been able to break it down almost on a daily basis. It was never enough for the offense to stand back and the coaches to laugh off the success against the defense, the coaches would rip the defense for not stopping it. The trick is to see through the disguise of the formation and follow some basic defensive rules.
The defense cannot bite on the WC. They have to stay the course and simply can play it as any other formation. With the LT switch to outside the RT, the Phins RDE will have to stay home and not feel as though he needs to cheat to the strong side. When the motion of the RB/FB/Slot WR takes place, the safety must follow.
Against the Raiders it should be easier since they have no real deep threat WR’s that have found success and barring a pass to Russell or whoever starts at QB, the RB’s will not likely have the arm strength to complete a long pass down-field. Staying home and supporting your side of the defensive scheme will be suffice against a team with limited options out of the formation.
The key to stopping the Raiders, should the run the WC is for the safety and corners not to bite on the run like many teams seem to do with Miami. The WC is one of those rare formations that bring a large amount of players into one location allowing the RB to bounce it outside and once across the line of scrimmage to see daylight. Ricky Williams found that against the Seahawks.
There has to be coverage on defense. With the RB taking the snap, the options are no different than if the QB did. He can throw it, hand it off, or take it himself. A solid push off the line can wreck the play as it starts, but the defense must maintain some discipline before they charge ahead.
That is the question of whether or not this team will find the WC an easy defense against. Has the practices prepared them enough to have that discipline? We will find out on Sunday, but my guess is that Sparano and Pasqualoni know exactly what they will be facing…the next question is, do the Raiders?