Earlier this year I shared with you how Dave Wannstedt, former Dolphins coach and current Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator, had not changed a lot with age.
His scheme is still the 4-3.
He still wants his cornerbacks to press.
He still believes in playing a very unsophisticated system that doesn't do much in the way of disguises or blitzes or, well, changing from game to game.
This approach, which worked great at the University of Miami in the 1980s and with the Dallas Cowboys in the early 1990s, is probably a good way to go when it's backed up by superior talent. Ultimately, talent trumps everything.
You got it, you got it.
You don't, you beter figure something else out.
Well, as you know Wannstedt didn't have it to the degree he believed during his time with the Miami Dolphins. He certainly doesn't have it with the Bills.
And yet, his philosophy has. Not. Changed.
So much for adapting or evolving.
This philosophy was fine for a while with the Dolphins but as with most things in the NFL, somebody eventually studies the problem and solves it. The Dolphins' defense got solved eventually.
That's why Wannstedt won the AFC East his first season and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs. They made the playoffs again his second year and then they missed the playoffs three consecutive years, eventually falling to 4-12 in 2004 and quitting before the season ended as he was going to be fired anyway.
Folks figured out the Dolphins defense. Players complained about it. I wrote about it extensively at the time. And Wannstedt did very little to correct the issue.
The most obvious proof this was happening? The Dolphins typically started fast but swooned as the seasons closed. Why? It wasn't the change in weather. It was the lack of change and in a defense that was apparently too easy to figure out.
Nowhere was this more obvious than in AFC East play. As the teams played each other twice, it gave opponents a second chance to figure Miami's defense out. And they did.
The Dolphins had a 10-7 record in first annual meetings against AFC East opponents during Wannstedt's time. They had a 6-9 record in the second annual meetings against those same opponents. (Wannsted left in October of 2004 which accounts for the 17 games on the first end but only 15 on the rematches).
So why is this history important?
Well, Wannstedt is basically the same coach only older in Buffalo. Earlier this year, the Bills didn't blitz, didn't change or disguise things on defense. They basically played their defense game after game and Wannstedt expected it to work.
When he was asked why he wasn't blitzing early on, he answered, "The front four has to get there."
And that brings me to this:
After all those years of being victimized by Wannstedt's unchanging approach, this week the Dolphins can benefit from that same stone age, unchanging approach.
Yes, the Bills beat Miami in the first meeting between the teams. But this week offers the Miami coaching staff, particularly the offensive coaches, another crack at the same looks, same scheme, same approach, for the second time.
This game is an opportunity for the Miami staff to show itself able to absorb information and solve the problem.
And they can do it with a degree of certainty that the Bills are not changing the variables as they prepare for the game because that's not how Wannstedt works.
What can I say? SMH.
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