How Important Is “Wildcat” Formation for Dolphins' Future?

Enlai PensadoContributor IOctober 1, 2008

After a bye week that allow us to recover from the hangover caused from an amazing performance at Gillette Stadium, there comes interrogation about how serious are this Dolphins.

Starting with the fact that nobody in the league expected Ronnie Brown’s stats of 4 running TD and one TD pass for TE Anthony Fasano, most of that under the so-called “Wildcat” package.  This unorthodox scheme with direct snap for RB Ronnie while QB Chad Pennington plays as WR, translated into Dolphin domination of a David versus Goliath confrontation.  So Patriots defense was unable to adapt into this mold and Ricky Williams served as co-star, adding 98 yards, for a total 216 running yards. Also defense was outstanding, especially Joey Porter, returning into stellar standards and proved him right about his comments on Cassel not being Brady.

Passing game was less astonishing but effective. How effective? Well if we focus on the fact that Chad completed 17 of 20 pass for 226 yards, then it was amazing, moreover because he distributed the load using 8 different targets. But those offensive stats easily turn into fallacy; Miami scheme was based on short passes, and just a few of them lasted more than ten yards on air.

Now, if we read previous games’ stats, it’s like speaking of two different teams. While on one side, these ’08 Dolphins outscored Pats 38-13 and showed them as contenders, the other face of this group, suffering a 31-10 massacre at Arizona, showed no improvement over ’07 squad. So there are tons of doubts about which Dolphin team will show for the rest of the season.

How much of that excellent performance in Foxboro is product of innovation and the surprise factor? May this Wildcat package serve as solution? , and finally: Is this offense a well-coached and balanced attack?

It’s obvious that New England defense was unprepared for such an offensive variation, but also the talent required for these results is a big factor. There’s big credit on the excellent job of the entire offensive line, which looked as they’ve worked united for years. Also as Sparano pointed recently, even it won’t be as effective, this Wildcat package may add some variations that may confuse opponent defense or at least will make them work on that during training days. We may read between lines that his offensive minds are making it more complex step by step. Well If Sparano’s words are right; this Wildcat package will be part of his playbook, one that must include participation on young key players like Ted Ginn Jr.  

As today Ginn, as the rest of ’08 Dolphins receivers, has been almost invisible, in part because of preparation, where at least during the first 2 weeks our o-line showed totally out of synch. But also in part because there’s no timing between QB & WR, and seems to be some differences of styles among our current QB and our receivers. While Ted Ginn is a not-so-tall speeder, who may require a different scheme in order to excel, Chad Pennington has showed he’s fine within this offense. Also Ted Ginn has been expelled from his KR/PR role, creating some speculation on that decision, because, at least during preseason, he showed as the most dangerous option. Assuming this move is placed in order to better his WR skills, he got some improvement, catching 5 passes in Foxboro. That sounds too pour for a former first rounder, but there appears that nobody else among his comrades would become the next big thing at WR. His development may have been delayed because having a fragile o-line that caused that our RB were stopped while hurrying QB passes and leading opponents to be able to use even double coverage on Ginn.

Another point to consider is who is playing as 2nd WR, where Dolphins have an apparent hole, given that as today, the biggest failure of this new regime is named Ernest Wilford, an standout WR on Jacksonville, but who has showed as inconsistent as a late round rookie at Miami. In fact, Davone Bess, a rookie free agent has showed better than Wilford. Perhaps only his $6 million signing bonus is justifying keeping Ernest on the roster.

But a brighter story has been Anthony Fasano, who is solidified as that starting TE and leads Miami with 2 passing TD, 150 passing yards and is tied for first with 11 receptions. Also he has been fine while blocking and acting as a leader on this team.

Also, there’s Greg Camarillo, who as Sparano pointed, is QB friendly, always finding a way to lose his mark and catching almost everything on his route. But also, his role is very similar of having a TE who never blocks, because his routes have a tendency to be too short, which may become an issue when this offense gets hurried for points.

If we assume that o-line is fixed, then this seems to be a little unbalanced attack, with a powerful running unit and a regular passing. But that can be a nice mix when some smart tricky plays enter into game plan, making them joyful to watch.