The League

Matt Infante
Dolphins Blogger

Matt Infante

Matt Infante is the founder, editor, and lead blogger of The Phinsider, which is SB Nation's Miami Dolphins blog.

Wildcat's No Gimmick


One of the biggest misconceptions in the NFL right now is that the Wildcat offense, made famous by the Miami Dolphins and now being run in various forms by many teams across the league, is just a "gimmick" that will eventually flame out. But many of those who believe this are the same people who don't understand exactly what the 'Wildcat' is and why it is used.

Essentially, the Wildcat is simply a power running formation that allows the Dolphins the ability to get their two best offensive players - Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams - involved in the offense. It's no more "gimmicky" than the 'Power I' formation or any other run-heavy formation.

But, while there might not be a real passing threat out of the formation when a running back is taking the snap, what is being done is an evening out of the numbers. With a traditional quarterback under center, the defense has a one player advantage in terms of defenders to blockers. But in the Wildcat - even with the quarterback split out wide - the defense still has to account for him, which alleviates the number advantage the defense did have. And it also allows the back - in this case, Ronnie Brown - to get the ball in his hands faster and hit the correct gap faster before the defense has time to react.

Where the "gimmick" begins to come into play is when a guy like Pat White takes the snap out of the formation. But what you have there is not the Wildcat but rather the spread option. I think analysts and NFL purists see this but still label it the Wildcat even though it certainly is not.

A lot of people watched the Dolphins struggle running out the Wildcat against the Ravens last year in the playoffs, which resulted in many people writing and saying that the Wildcat was officially dead. But these people fail to realize that, like I said above, the Wildcat is just a power running formation. Most NFL teams couldn't run on the Ravens last year - they were third in the NFL in rush defense in 2008. So Wildcat or not, the Dolphins weren't running on the Ravens. The Dolphins couldn't run on the Ravens out of the 'I formation' either. Does that mean the 'I formation' is dead, too?

The Wildcat is here to stay, folks. Get used to it. It's now just part of the Miami Dolphins' offense. It's no different than any other formation they utilize on gameday. And just like any other formation and any other play, some games it will work well; other days not so much. But to claim it's a "gimmick" only makes you look naïve and ignorant.

By Matt Infante  |  September 30, 2009; 6:49 AM ET  | Category:  Miami Dolphins , NFL , Running Backs Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The Wildcat is a state of mind. It says to the defenses: "we are going to run the ball up the middle and kick your butt while we are doing it. You know it's coming and let's see if you have the testicular fortitude to stop us." It gives no quarter and takes no quarter. Mano a Mano baby!! Some in the league and media are having a problem with it.

Posted by: MiamiCuban | October 14, 2009 10:25 AM

I think the key to Miami's single wing is the main trigger man, Ronnie Brown. He has got to be one of the more intelligent runners in the NFL. One thing he lacks is break away speed, but he can pick up yards in chunks. On the game winning score in the NY game, watch his eyes as he waits patiently then darts towards daylight behind a pulling blocker and follows him in for the score. Simply genius.

Posted by: armandoaprado | October 14, 2009 8:17 PM

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