Ronnie Brown and the Miami Dolphins: Why the Wildcat Is 'Wildflat'

T.J. MorrillCorrespondent ISeptember 28, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 19:  Ronnie Brown #23 of the Miami Dolphins carries the ball during the game against the Minnesota Vikings on September 19, 2010 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The wildcat just doesn't seem as electrifying and powerful as it has in the last two years, and it's hard to say why. You could argue that it's because teams are just used to it by now. And though that answer isn't out of the question, is it really the issue?

This time last year, teams were preparing for the wildcat whenever they played the Dolphins. In spite of that preparation, the Dolphins still used the formation effectively. The wildcat worked because it's a game of numbers: subtract the QB and there's an extra blocked and less time wasted giving a hand-off to the tailback.

Nobody is really fooled by the formation unless a pass is attempted, which isn't all that uncommon to really call it a "trick" play.

Why then, is this formation no longer working for the Dolphins? They've been the masters of the wildcat, after all. It's confusing that all of the sudden it just doesn't work.

Here's what I think: the Dolphins are simply not using the wildcat in the correct manner. Before, the wildcat was used as a momentum starter and a goal line-type set. Lately the wildcat has been a momentum-killer rather than a momentum-starter.

Instead of using the wildcat when the offense is sputtering and needs a spark, the Dolphins have been using it when the offense is in a groove. It goes back to the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.". When the conventional offense is moving the ball with ease down the field, there is no need to break out the wildcat.

Personel and offense changes throw Chad Henne and the WRs out of rythym and it throw Lousaka Polite out of rythym at the fullback position, as well. The concept of momentum and rythym isn't really tangible, but if you're a sports fan, you know what I'm talking about. And boy is it important. Basically the formation needs to be used to spark the offense, not when the offense is moving the ball effectively.

The wildcat is really more of a goal line set, though. The whole purpose is to add an extra blocker and take time out of the play to make it quick-hitting and almost impossible to stop for three or less yards.

Quick hitters need to be the base of the wildcat. Being physical and forceful is what running the ball is all about; it's what the Dolphins are good at, yet they refuse to do it.

The plays being called out of the wildcat just don't look good. The Dolphins are trying to be too cute with these slow developing end-arounds and reverses. I don't mind plays like that after a team has pounded the ball down a defense's throat and the defense is stacking the line, or if the offense is in a tailspin and needs a spark. 

It's annoying to watch a team move the ball effectively down the field with short passes and off-tackle runs and then see that same team take themselves out of field goal range and kill the drive by running a reverse that loses yardage.

The Dolphins' wildcat is not suffering because teams are used to it, or because Ronnie Brown isn't the same, or anything like that. The wildcat simply is not being used properly. The plays being called and the bad timing are what is causing the problem.