The Wildcat isn't working very well anymore, folks. At least it wasn't working against the Jets to the point it seemed misplaced within Miami's play-calling.
But coach Tony Sparano today defended the use of the scheme that two years ago led to an improbable upset of the New England Patriots and last night seemed to contribute to Miami's downfall.
Sparano said the Wildcat's production was "average," and then he was asked if he believes the package was at any time a hinderance to the flow of the offense?
"No," Sparano said succinctly.
"I would tell you we ran reverse that was a minus play. We probably ran two or three others that were four-yard plays, which is what we're looking for," Sparano said. "I mean, we're not looking for 40-yard plays out of the thing. It's an efficient run. Ronnie had two or three efficient runs out of the thing. He threw a pass out of one of them that, to be quite honest with you, we threw down the field to Brandon, but if we threw the wheel route, it might have been a 30-yard gain. I ain't all stuck on that. Not at all."
The official game book didn't paint quite as rosy a picture of the Wildcat as Sparano did, however. Bottom line, the Dolphins ran out of Wildcat eight times by my count. It gained seven total yards. It accounted for one incomplete pass. Of the eight plays, four accounted for no gain or a loss of yardage.
The plays according to the game book:
First and 10 from the Jets 18 yard line:Ronnie Brown loses one yard.
Second and 11 from the Jets 19 yard line: Brown gains four yards.
Second-and-15 from the Jets 35 yard line. Brown has no gain.
Two plays later on first-and-10 from the Jets 20: Brown gains 5 yards.
On second-and-five from the Jets 15: Brown gains four yards.
On the next possession:
First and goal from the Jets 7 yard line: Brown gains one yard.
On the following possession:
First and 10 from the Miami 24 yard line: Brown throws incomplete to Marshall.
First and 10 from the Jets 36: Cobbs on the end around loses six yards.
It should be noted Brown gained 14 yards on five Wildcat carries. His carries out of the base formation accounted for 40 yards on six carries.
So that seems to build a case against Wildcat. But you must remember, the Dolphins lately are using the Wildcat package to even the odds on run plays. Seems most teams on early downs are stacking the box against the Dolphins on run downs. That means Miami is always at a one-man disadvantage in that with the QB under center, the defense always has one more defender than Miami has either blocking or running.
With the QB out of the way in the wildcat package, the Dolphins even the odds. So,yes, Wildcat is a downhill running offense.
Of course, that begs the question, why the reverses to Cobbs or Marshall.
By the way. The Dolphins seem to like Wildcat. Still. They get the only votes on the matter. Everyone else is kinda out-voted.
Sparano was asked the reason cornerback Jason Allen was on receiver Braylon Edwards much of the night -- a matchup that Allen lost -- rather than using superior cornerback Vontae Davis on Edwards. Coach said it was because coaches thought Allen's size made it possible for him to compete better with Edwards.
That didn't excuse Allen's tough outing.
"Jason would tell you he needs to do better," Sparano said.
Jason, by the way, doesn't need to tell me. I saw it. He needs to to much, much, much better to stick Randy Moss or Wes Welker or Brandon Tate next Monday night.
Ah, hidden yardage was no friend of the Dolphins Sunday.
Sparano said the Dolphins yielded 140 yards on special teams. That is the equivalent to a touchdown and then some.
Ricky Williams fumbled once (officially) but had another moment in which he also lost his grip on the ball early enough that it was ruled a fumble before being overturned. Williams has three such losses of the ball in two weeks, although the ball has actually changed possession only once.
That's is enough for Sparano.
"Yes, it concerns me," he said.
Williams needs to keep both hands on the ball unless he is fine with not playing in the fourth quarter of games as he did Sunday night.