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Eye-popping focus on Miami Dolphins Wildcat

Born on Sept. 21, 2008, the Miami Dolphins' Wildcat Package is celebrating its first notable milestone this weekend: The Dolphins for the first time will use it against an opponent who has seen it used by Miami previously.

So Wildcat will be under the microscope Sunday because not only are the Patriots seeing it for the second time, but their coach is Bill Belichick and everyone knows he's a genius. (Particularly when he films the other team's signals).

I figured this would be a good time to look at what Wildcat has done for the Dolphins so far. We know they run it between 4 and 12 times a game and we know it's been good, but that does not truly come into focus until we study the eye-popping numbers.

The Dolphins have run Wildcat a total of 59 times this season. They have rushed 55 of those times, passed twice and been sacked twice. Miami averages 7.1 yards per play in Wildcat. It averages 5.6 yards per play outside of Wildcat.

Out of the 55 rushes, the Dolphins have gained 356 yards. They have scored six rushing touchdowns out of Wildcat. They have averaged 6.4 yards per carry out of Wildcat.

The base offense production pales by comparison. The Dolphins have rushed 225 rushes for 819 yards out of the base set. That is a 3.6 yards per carry average, about 44 percent less than what they average in Wildcat. The Dolphins have scored eight of their rushing TDs out of the base offense which means Wildcat has almost equaled the point production on runs despite being used on 170 fewer running plays.

Am I the only one who thinks these numbers are staggering?

The passing numbers also show a big advantage in Wildcat but I would say there really isn't a big enough sample size here to declare Wildcat better than the base offense on pass plays.

The Dolphins have thrown 2 passes out of Wildcat. They have completed both, meaning their completion percent is ... 100 percent! The amazing thing is both the completions scored touchdowns -- a 53-yarder from Chad Pennington to Patrick Cobbs and a 19-yard score from Ronnie Brown to Anthony Fasano.

The Dolphins have gained 72 passing yards and have suffered two sacks out of Wildcat. There have obviously been zero interceptions.

Miami's pass offense outside of Wildcat completes 66.5 percent of its 311 passes. The Dolphins have gained 2,388 passing yards and have suffered 18 sacks outside of Wildcat.

But it is in the payoff that Wildcat stands apart from the rest of Miami's pass offense. While both Wildcat tosses went for scores, averaging 36 yards per scoring pass, Miami has thrown only 7 TD passes with 5 interceptions otherwise -- not terrible but also not very impressive.

The point is Wildcat has been a rousing success in giving the Dolphins offense a spark. It has given the unit a big-play ability it lacks otherwise. It has been consistent. It has put opposing defenses on, well, on the defensive.

The question we will have answered Sunday is whether Wildcat can work against an opponent in a rematch game. And if the answer is affirmative, one might wonder if the Dolphins should use the Wildcat package more often?


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Dude, that is some major numbers crunching you did Mando. Great, great job.


Great job and, as always, I think you made some great points. But I am curious what those numbers would look like if you took out the game against the Pats. Especially, the rushing statistics. I don't know this for sure, but from watching the games since the NE game, it doesn't appear that the Dolphins are running all over people with the wildcat. I would just be curious to see if the numbers were still impressive.

those numbers are crazy! i was actually getting a bit tired of seeing the wildcat but im not getting tired of seeing W's. keep it coming team tuna, i'll just sit back and keep my mouth shut.

Great post Mando. Love it. and I love the WildCat formation. The only team to truly stop it this season was the Ravens. We had no success against them, but everyone else it has been a huge boost to our offense. Keep working it boys. LETS GO PHINS!!!!!!!!1

AK hits the nail on the head.
Ronnie Borown scored 4 rushing td's 1st game using wildcard and threw the td to Fasano in that game.
It's back-door football.
Chad p is playing like a man these days.
Let's stick with manly straight-up play and see how far we can go.

finfan makes an obvious point that I'm sure Bill Belli-Jerk is not gonna miss. The Ravens did have success against the Wildcat, and I'm sure Billy watched that game atleast 100 times since Thursday. I just hope that what Sparano said is true. When they played the Patsies the first time they only had 4 plays out of the Wildcat package. Now they have abot 12 or 15. I would like to see some new wrinkles, or else I see the Wildcat getting shut down.

I would say definately use the Wildcat, it gives the opposing Def something to worry about. The more different type of plays we use gives us an advantage, the harder it is for DEfs to predict. Miami will use the Wildcat, it may not produce the same as the first game but if we can get half of that, that is about 17 points. The bottom line is, we will wear them down. We are the more physical team. I dont see the Pats beating us, we have the better matchups.

Master, you're dumb. "backdoor football" who cares as long as it works?
This team needs something OTHER than "straight up as you say. They lost the 1st two games and needed something other than straight-up plays. They just aren't there yet and will need to use "gimmics" and whatever else they can to WIN. This is great coaching! Isn't that the point? Glad you have no say in anything or this team would have maybe 2-3 wins moron.

The Wildcat is to compliment the base offense. It gives opposing defenses something extra to prepare for during the up coming week and it also takes time away for them to prepare for the base offense. Even when its not effective it gives defenses something extra to think about. I think it shows that Sparano has what it takes to become a great coach. I mean it takes a lot of balls to take a high school play and run it in the NFL. If the wildcat did not work like it did the 1st time around against the Pats he would have been forever mocked.

yeah...the analysis is good, but there is a clear outlier. I'm not gonna take the time to calculate yardage, but in touchdowns, removing that one game removes over 50% of the the TD production. We've used the wildcat in 8 games since! Therefore, it is not as productive as these statistics seem to show. Additionally, with the overwhelming number of plays being runs, it should increasingly become easier to scheme against for D coaches. Though i don't see the wildcat getting more effective, the strength lies in the threat of using the wildcat. Forcing other teams to practice against it & stay on their toes during the game. For this epic match-up this sunday, i hope they aren't too reliant on the formation & instead waste their preparation by just cramming it down their throats in base formation.

Dear jets sux,
First of all you suck!
I've never seen you posting here before so don't try jumping on the bandwagon now.
Being a winning team means being able to win like men.
I believe in the Dolphins and I believe they can and should win like men.
They don't need to continue to resort to faggy back-door football.

Dan Henning will come up with a nice game plan, you will see, Billichek will not have an answer. I predict Camirillo, Brown, and TEs will have a nice day. Porter with a couple of sacks, and at least one INT. This will seal the game for us.

Diminishing return, you use it you lose it. The idea is the the "Wild Cat" would remain a big play threat. This is possible by limiting the number of time a defense sees it. By running it more often teams will be more prepared with personel and correct adjustments. By running it on a very limited basis an opposing defense can be cut off-guard and then well "big play".

What I would like to see is... (I've been screaming it for weeks)

Lets see here... start off with that new wing 3 backs. Next play no huddle into a 3 wide out set Shotgun. Davis Martin goes outside, Tedd plays the slot, Greggs on the other end. Rick and Ronnie provide protection or a check-down. Next play you know it "Wild Cat". If they've moved an extra DB in guest what mismatch. If they never did then a LB was covering Tedd Ginn on the previous play. Do you see where I'm going here.

MANDO!!! what do you think, my plan not my grammer!

How often I post here makes no difference when you're wrong master baiter... you need to have you're head checked, you're dumb.
BTW, don't call me "dear"

Hell yeah, but since the TUNA doesnt do 2 things twice, and fish dont like cat this weekend he will unveil the new Wildfish formation- appropiate for the dolphins managed by the Tuna-

We should think of a fishy nickname for Tony, wadda you think

"Being a winning team means being able to win like men?"
What the heck is that supposed to mean? Like men? Dude, you need help!!

Heck you could even put Ginn in Ricky's spot and run no huddle from our base offense to the wild cat. It is that simple!

Please cut the following players:


W. Allen
J. Allen

Thank you!

Wildcat or no Wildcat the Phins have improved and will continue to do so... IF the Phins win I see another heart attack game 19-17 only because I still think Cassell is a JOKE and a product of the system not his skill set

Call it the "Naked Wild Cat",... no huddle!

Thanks, mR742 you prove that these blogs are worth no bodys time.

The TD rate is skewed, because the Fins are using the Wildcat more inside the 10 yard line... albeit for good reason.

And the passing data is equally meaningless simply due to the very few attempts. The Wildcat pass is better considered a rare gimmick play than a regular offense play. That's fine, as it can have great results if deployed judiciously.

The rushing stats are very encouraging. The key is mixing it up to keep defenses off balance.

They ought to just announce Sparano as Coach of the Year now.

Thanks for the stats, Armando.

Eye-popping figures, yes. It shouldn't matter whether the opponent has already faced it, by now everyone has seen it and prepared for it. Everyone in the SEC knew that Arkansas was going to run it too but not many could stop McFadden and Felix Jones once they got going.

It all comes down to execution and the Pats defense just isn't what it was last season without Rodney Harrison. Wildcat or not, I like Ricky and Ronnie's chances of running all over them.

However what they should do long term is to pass more to keep defenses from selling out. Last week the corners completely ignored Pennington after the snap and auto-blitzed. If teams have no respect for the passing game out of the formation and play a Bears 46 blitz type defense against it, that will eventually lead to its downfall.

It's time to unveil Shot-Ginn formation, with a run-throw option. Cobbs on the wheel route. Safeties bite on Ginn's run action and the linebacker can't cover Cobbs. Safeties stay back and Ginn tucks it and goes, like a kick return. And Charlie Anderson can't hold on the play, because he doesn't play offense. :)


While I don't agree with calling you out for your opinion, your idea of manly football vs faggy football is not only idiotic, it's pathetic. What makes a trick play faggy? Because you think so? What a crock.. I will argue that winning is manly and losing is faggy. Since we broke out the Wildcat we have won 6 and lost 2. Playing "manly" football we were 0 wins and 2 losses. You do the math!

If the Wildcat is back door football, why is everyone else doing it.. Since you clearly lack the ability to grasp the obvious I'll tell you.... BECAUSE IT WORKS.. Did you read Armando's blog? Did you understand the significance of the stats he shared.. Obviously not!

I will argue that trick plays are genius, not faggy.. You are out thinking the opposition.. Manly football is only played if you run base offense?? Dude, you need to think before you post something so you don't end up looking so ridiculous..

By the way, I may not post as often as you, but I've been on this band wagon all year so don't use that lame card..

That is a 3.6 yards per carry average, about 80 percent less than what they average in Wildcat.

I don't know how Mando does his math, but the last time I checked 80% less would mean we average 18 yrds per rush in the wildcat.

Nice comment in your blog about Belichick taping signals, jerk. He just learned from his old mentor, Parcells. Checked the sidelines in Miami recently? That's probably why the Fins are winning this year. Pats destroy the gimmicky Fins this weekend. Squish the fish.

The funny thing about Master calling it 'back door football' is that teams in this league will do ANYTHING within the rules to win. ANYTHING! There is no such thing as backdoor football. Have you watched any Pats games. They have tried it 4 or 5 times themselves with ZERO success. So what about 'back door football' can't they execute properly? They don't have Ricky, Ronnie, and P. Cobbs in the backfield. The reason we are so successful with it is our players..and using your players is not back-door.

its not a trick play when we say we are gonna run it..they know we are gonna run it...they prepare for it...its part of our game plan its not a trick anymore...what is backdoor footbal? So if u win the Super bowl playing "backdoor footbakk" it doesnt really count? PLEASE
Play action was considered backdoor footbal 20 years ago

They should continue doing the Wildcat until the Pats can stop it, which they haven't done yet! We should throw out of the formation a few times, so that it will open up the run for Ronnie and Ricky. Go Miami! 7-4!

I am probably the only person that thinks the wildcat is a sign of weakness for the dolphins offense. We are 0-2 running out of the base formation,,, and 6-2 with the wildcat. Im just worried that once the teams figure out how to stop the wildcat we wont get anything done on offense.

we need more of....

1. More hurry-up offense, 2 minute offense,

2. More slants to Ted Ginn, thats where all his yac yards come from, esp. if u hit him in stride.

3. Ted Ginn at QB in the wildcat, he ran it at Ohio St. Use it in the red zone!

4. Get Fasano more involved he has shown good hands and an ability to find seams.

5. If u notice, it's the tweaks and wrinkles of the wildcat that are successful, keep changing the personnel and formation of the wildcat.

6. keep pennington throwing between the numbers where he is hall of fame like and not throwing into the flat wich is an almost guaranteed pick six the other way.

7. control the clock, we are 6-0 when winning TOP.

The forward pass wasn't considered "manly" in the days of Red Grange and Knute Rockne. Where would football be without the excitement of the passing game? Football teams win because of their ability to be innovative in all areas of the game. So, you have to credit the Dolphins for finding a scheme that works and using it at the right time.

The wild cat makes the dolphins harder to prepare for... the more material you have to learn for a test the harder it is to pass it.

So, you can call it backdoor, gimmicky w/e you want the fact is that it works. And versus the Patriots i would run it on the first play, they still havent proved they can stop it. San Fransico ran it on them and Gore picked up a first down. This is make or break for us we cant lose and think about the playoffs and neither can they.

I want SMASHMOUTH FOOTBALL from the Dolphins.

All of you h0mos can go blow each other.

I drink Wild turkey 101 straight: Like A Man.
I smoke Marlboro reds: Like a Man.
I drive an '99 F-150 4X4: Like A Man.
I lift barbells and dumb bells in my basement: Like A Man.
I bang my wife and girl friend hard: Like A Man.
I discipline my son by having him carry logs around my 3 acre property: Like A Man. (And he does it:like A Man.)
I want straight-up smash-mouth football: Like A Man.
Now the rest of you need to grow some balls and start acting Like A Man.
Say No To The Back Door: Like A Man!

Wow Master you are impressive.We all want to be like you.What a dumbass.

yo, you make ur kid carry logs around. atleast make him do something productive.

I don't care if they do the chicken leg 49 offense. Win the ball game.
The stats are great and it shows how tough the wildcat can be. But it also shows just how weak our standard offense appears.
I couldn't tell if they had of run a draw play with Ronnie if would have worked as well.
It is fun and they win so run it.
Just win baby.

Masterbaiter- you really seem to have a fascination with men, backdoors and logs. Have fun molesting your son hillbilly. Me, i'll stick to drinking brews and watching the dolphins WIN.

Thanks for the laugh Master!

Don't forget why the wildcat was first used in Miami. The simple idea of getting your best players on the filed and in a position to be successful. Ricky, Ronnie and Patrick Cobbs have all proved to be pretty good backs and the problem with having three good backs is how you get them all on the field at once, hence the Wilcat.

Should we use it? Hell yes! But remember why the Wildcat worked against NE the first time. We opened the game throwing intermediate passes on 1st and 2nd down. Sparano correctly predicted NE would bring 8 men in the box early to shut down the run. Once we got some completions behind the safety run support they had to loosen up. Once they loosened up we sprang the Wildcat on them. It was a brilliant game plan and worked to perfection.

NE won't get out coached again, at least not by the same game plan. I suspect Pennington will be given a pass/run option on 1st and 2nd down early and will make a check at the line based on the defense. Old Wiley Belichick will play disguise and walk the safety in but pull him out at the snap. Hopefully Pennington can recognize the safety key and make the right call.

It's all about dictating to the defense and not playing from behind. We need to come out, jump on them early and never let up. If we fall behind early it will be a long day.

So Master, you don't call snapping the ball right to Ronnie Brown and having him bust up the gut for huge chunks of yards smashmouth? Maybe we shouldn't even pass the ball, lets just go SMASHMOUTH so we look cooler winning. Crap, half the time we run the wildcat its a hand off. WTF do you want?? I don't get this 'Back door' football crap. Because its not a formation you see often? Is that why its gay. Please explain.

I hope you all enjoy the game.

"I bang my wife and girl friend hard"...really? LMAO!!

Like they say, those who can, do, and those who can't, talk about it. You're voted off the island "backdoor man".

Wonder if it will be lung or liver cancer that does you in first? At least they can bury you in your pickup. But they will all say your manly. What a knob!

Sparano = the Big ciappino

Sparano = the Big ciappino


Lets watch brokeback mountain together LIKE MEN

Mando---you are turning into the Nate Silver/fivethirtyeight.com of football w/ this post (political junkie reference)

Armando, great article! The stats almost reinforce what I've said since we've seen the wildcat: The Dolphins should add this formation to the playbook--permanently. Hopefully this game will prove that the Wildcat should sit right in between "Shotgun" and "I-Form".

What surprises me most is the success rate for a team that lacks the supposed "big play" WR and game changing QB. This is why I have hope that this formation will stick for a long time. Think of the opportunities if the Dolphins have a big WR and QB. One thing I want to note though is this: the formation would not be as successful if even one coach on this team is removed. The coaching staff has done a wonderful job in making the Wildcat so successful, and I think they'll have plenty more success for them as they solidify the Dolphins in the future.

Based on the answers some of the players have given this week in interviews, I'm sure the fins will break out some new variations of the wildcat or other formations to confuse Belijerk again. They all seem very confident and tight lipped about the game plan. The best part of the first win against N.E. was seeing the stupid look on Belijerk's face when he couldn't figure out how to stop us. Let's do it again and really piss them off.

Go Fins!!!

Wildcat is a viable offensive weapon. No question about it. It's still a variation of the single wing with some wrinkles. It's worked at some time and it hasn't worked at other times.

But let it not be your only weapon. I liked the quick hitter up the middle with Patrick Cobbs when the Raiders were confused. The key to success in any running play involves our OL players getting in the first punch and finishing the blocks. That's what makes the Wildcat and any of our other running plays fun. At the same time the other team will adjust to Wildcat and our running plays by putting 8 or more in the box combined with run blitz packages. That's where our receivers and TE's must step up and get open so we can go over the top.

The Patriots are far better than the team we beat introducing Wildcat and preying on Matt Cassel's inexperience. He may not be Tom Brady, but he's stepped up and led their offense. They're hurting, but they're dangerous when they're hurt. We have to take away their running game on defense and keep their 3rd down conversion percentage to <30% by pressuring Cassel. Other guys besides Joey, Vonnie, and Will must step up in the sack department. Overall I'm a believer in winning the ball control battle especially in the 4th quarter. Being positive on turnovers will help too.

Our team has to be ready to play well all four quarters. This team will play well. We can't afford to have moments of complacency and slacking after having successful opening drives (let's keep that up). We got a big challenge but we can beat the Patriots too.

Thanks Mando for great post.I am still amazed that Wildcat still works as well as it does after all this time. While the numbers are not earth shattering; it does add up. Teams seem to have problems with formation even after all this time preparing for it. Wish we could throw more out of the wildcat because I think it could be very successful.

LOL!!! 100% passing completion out of the wildcat. That's great.... 2 whole passes.

I like how you fluffed up your piece Mando.

I think Master is just a master baiter. His stupid, inane comment has everyone going nuts in here. He is just a Patsy fan in disguise.

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