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?