Why the Wildcat Formation Will Prove To Be Nothing More than a Fad

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Why the Wildcat Formation Will Prove To Be Nothing More than a Fad
(Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Let's start by saying that the wildcat formation, a formation which allows for a direct snap to the running back followed by an option to either run or pass the ball, could be here to stay.

It can be effective if the team has the right personnel to execute it and the Dolphins showed last season that just having the element of surprise can make it difficult to defend against.

That said, it's a formation that needs to be logged under the category of "gimmicky" and needs to go the way of the run-and-shoot; disappear.

NFL defenses may have to prepare longer to defend the wildcat but it is stoppable.

The Miami Dolphins were able to fool everyone on the first go-round, but by their second meeting with most teams, it was significantly less effective.

Some believe the addition of Pat White, the multi-tool quarterback drafted out of West Virginia this year, will be the difference. He is the guy who will bring legitimacy to the scheme as a staple of the Miami Dolphins offense. 

I disagree because Pat White is not built to take hits and will not be a consistent enough passer to be a true threat.

Say what you will about his toughness, work, ethic, and running ability, but the fact of the matter is, he will get hit hard.

Over the course of a full season, those hits will be too much for his 6'0'' 197 lbs. frame to handle and he will go down.

There goes your surprise element, what's next?

White may be mobile, but the NFL is not the Big East—he won't be able to run fast enough to avoid the big hit from a salivating defensive end or a menacing linebacker.

Further, despite the impression he made at the NFL Combine, White is not adept at making either the intermediate or the deep ball throw on a consistent basis when it is well-defended.

He has a decent arm, but he will have to make adjustments on the move; along with his inexperience at reading defenses; one could argue that his presence in Miami will be less boom, more bust.

Dolphin fans will likely disagree, but that's to be expected.

The wildcat has been used by most every NFL team in one capacity or another, but it's not something that should be utilized as a significant portion of any pro team's offense.

It's simply not practical and, unlike the college ranks, pro defenses are sophisticated enough to make in-game adjustments to stop it dead in it's tracks—even if they don't, once the cat is out of the bag, good luck fooling a defensive coordinator the second time around.

Plus, it's unlikely that you will find a head coach willing to sacrifice first-string level talent to implement the scheme. Truthfully, why would they need to?

The Atlanta Falcons have Jerious Norwood. He took some snaps last season but why use him in this way now that Matt Ryan has shown his level of comfort at the quarterback spot?

By and large, teams that have either a well-established quarterback or a solid running game, don't need the wildcat and don't use it.

It may be exciting and might lead to moderate success when used with the right personnel, but it also leaves a good player the target of punishing blows and, by extension, to injury

Consider the fact that injuries can happen minus the gadgetry and it's easy to understand the trepidation of most teams to employ this method on a regular basis.

No offense to Dan Henning, but this is a fad that will only require one massive, season-ending,  hit to a multi-million dollar player to find the chorus of "ditch-it"critics ascending.

In the meantime, those of us who find it to be an irritating annoyance will take great pleasure in the defenses that are able to stop it cold—of which there will be more than a few.

Until then, we shall likely see the copycats spring up—read a nice article about that, by Angel Navedo, here—some of whom will have success and others that won't.

However, at some point, most will see that this is nothing more than a temporary fake-out. And, as with most fakes, it is bound to be exposed at some point.

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