Five Plays That Worked For the Dolphins in 2008
The Miami Dolphins implemented the "Wildcat" formation in 2008 to take advantage of tailbacks Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams on the same play.
Both players were on the field in various sets with Brown often times taking the snap in a shotgun formation with quarterback Chad Pennington usually off the field.
When Brown would take the snap, Williams usually ran towards Brown either taking the hand-off or being a decoy on the play. Brown was the key to the whole play as he was forced to make quick reads on the defense watching the linebackers in pursuit while paying close attention to the defensive ends off the edge.
The formation was very successful and first debuted against New England, the defending AFC champs and winners of 21 straight regular season games.
Following a loss to Arizona, Miami head coach Tony Sparano met with quarterbacks coach David Lee, who used the formation while as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas with Darren McFadden. Against New England, Brown lined up at quarterback six times scoring three touchdowns and throwing another.
"We had trouble with a lot of things," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in his post-game press conference. "That was one of them. We had trouble a lot."
Brown finished the season with 916 yards and 10 touchdowns. Williams added 659 yards and four scores.
#2 Play-Action Pass in Various Formations
Chad Pennington's strength as a quarterback is his accuracy.
So offensive coordinator Dan Henning put Pennington is positive situations for him to succeed especially using the play-action pass.
At times, the Dolphins would line up in an I-Formation to run the play-action pass. But there success would not stop there. Sometimes, the team would come out in a three or four wide receiver set with a lone back and run the play-action pass.
The reason why it was successful was because Pennington was very good at disguising the play and hiding the ball. The running backs--Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams--were used frequently and had success so teams had to respect their abilities.
Also, Pennington's accuracy and quickness in delivering the ball allowed him to find open receivers quickly after the play-action, usually in 1-on-1 situations.
It was common to see Pennington run the play-action pass effectively and it was instrumental in his success.
#3 Anthony Fasano in the Red Zone
Tight end Anthony Fasano scored one touchdown in his first two seasons in the NFL.
In 2008, he had seven.
Fasano, a former star at Notre Dame, was a very valuable piece of the Miami Dolphins success last season.
He had more receptions (34), yards (454) and touchdowns (7) in 2008 than he did in his first two years in the NFL combined. It was a banner year for Fasano, who excelled as the main red zone target for Chad Pennington.
Fasano, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 255 pounds, led all Dolphins in touchdown receptions with fellow tight end David Martin finishing second with three.
Both Fasano and Martin were used in tight goal-line situations and got open for Pennington, who delivered key strikes to the pair of unknowns.
#4 Short Passes to Ted Ginn, Greg Camarillo, and Davone Bess
Dolphins receivers Ted Ginn, Greg Camarillo, and Davone Bess are not the biggest trio in the NFL.
In fact, they may be the smallest.
Ginn (5-11, 180), Camarillo (6-1, 190), and Bess (5-10, 190) were very effective in catching short passes thrown by Chad Pennington often times in three-wide receiver sets with Bess in the slot.
Ginn led the Dolphins with 56 receptions for 790 yards. Camarillo added 55 catches for 613 yards and Bess, an undrafted rookie free agent, came on strong catching 54 passes for 554 yards.
All three players took advantage of their opportunities in 2008 and did a nice job despite not being considered as one of the team's strengths.
#5 Inside Runs
The Dolphins did a good job running the ball up the middle especially during key situations picking up key first downs.
Leading rusher Ronnie Brown paved the way and has shown the ability to run the ball up the middle efficiently during his four-year career. He averaged 4.3 yards on 214 carries to give up 916 yards with 10 touchdowns in 2008.
Veteran Ricky Williams has always been an effective runner in between the tackles during his productive career. Williams bounced back from playing in just one game in the previous two seasons to rush for 659 yards last year.
One of the bright spots in the running game was fullback Lousaka Polite, whose first year in Miami was a success.
The 6-foot, 242-pound fourth-year player proved to be instrumental in Miami's running game as a key blocker. Polite set up a number of key plays for Brown and Williams.