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  • The Wildcat

    As you all know there is new offensive formation in the NFL. The Wildcat offense, similar to that of run-option formations at the college level, actually used by Arkansas, brought into the NFL by Head Coach Tony Sparano of the Miami Dolphins, who got the idea from Quarterbacks coach, David Lee. In it's first year, it was an unexpected formation that caught defenses off guard. It was very successful, but now is it a fluke or is it here to stay?

    Let's start off by explaining what it is, for those who don't already know. The Wildcat is an offensive formation that focuses on changes at the skill positions thusly: The quarterback lines up as a flanker (aka wide receiver), the halfback lines up as the quarterback, and there is a fullback or other tailback in motion from a split out position just before the play begins. The wildcat is confusing to a defense because so many things can happen as the play unfolds: You can hand the ball to the guy in motion, or that guy can go to the weak side and throw a block. The quarterback (at receiver) himself may throw a block or go out for a pass. It also very effective due to the blocking matchups. Miami is running it with an unbalanced offensive line (which Cleveland runs alot out of most formations.) That unbalanced line takes the left tackle and plays him on the right side inside of the tight end. This fortifies the other side of the line so as to make the play asymmetrical as the motion begins with the split-wide halfback left to right. (Or the same scenario only right to left and you have two tackles on the left side instead, etc.) (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...6171615AAjBZ1S)


    Some people say it is a fad that will be gone by next year, and that defensive coordinators have already figured it out. I have to respectfully disagree. Not only will offensive coordinators add new plays to this offense, defenses still haven't proved able to stop the original 4 plays in the offense. These 4 plays look exactly alike, and it is almost impossible to make a pre-snap read on what exactly is going to happen, each with 4 different options. As seen here...


    HB Dive: Similar to what Darren McFadden was called upon to do occasionally at Arkansas.


    Fake HB Dive RB Sweep: This play confuses defenses, not knowing which RB to go after.


    Play-Action Pass: Ronnie Brown has a decent ability to throw, but with someone like a Michael Vick or Pat White this play is deadly.


    HB Pass: Same as the last one.

    These are just the four original Wildcat plays, and only one wildcat formation, no doubt not only are their more formations, that there are also coordinators all-over the league coming up with new ideas for this system. The Wildcat was highly successful almost every time it was used here is an example of the Wildcat at work.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72bbonONvlw
    The Vid embed does not work for me so if it doesn't for you here is the link.

    The Wildcat is not a gimmick and it is an offense that is here to stay. It will slowly be developed, and it may never be a full-fledged offense, like the west coast offense, spread, etc. it will be a highly effective formation that will give DCs fits. If the Dolphins spent a 2nd rounder on Pat White to be a part of their Wildcat offense, I am fairly certain they are confident in that offense to continue on its success in the NFL. Toward the end of the year many other teams began experimenting with it, with some pretty good results.


    A link to the first of a series of successful Wildcat plays

    All you require to run the offense is some athleticism at the QB position, or at least a RB who can throw the ball. As seen with Ronnie Brown, who caught everyone off guard when he revealed he was a lefty. Top candidates are athletic QBs like Michael Vick, Pat White, Vince Young, etc. who are perfect for the Wildcat offense



    As for this upcoming year, I think the Wildcat will be used even more with more plays, with better results, and by a wider array of teams. Pat White will give the Dolphins an opportunity to be very creative on offense, and this can be very deadly. Now defenses have planned against it, but I believe there is enough variation for the Wildcat to remain effective. Even if the D-Coordinators figure it out there are at least 7 different options on almost every play, run the ball left, run right, handoff underneath, throw it to four different available targets, or run it straight up the gut. The Wildcat is here to stay. Thoughts, agreements, disagreements... all welcome!


    Bone Krusher, the best

  • #2
    I think that the wildcat can only be run effectivelty 5-10 times a game max. The beauty of it, like any trick play or formation, is that it catches the defense off gaurd. Sometimes it may just be one guy who guesses wrong but that's all it takes. One misstep by a backer or safety and you got yourself a problem. However, I really think defenses are going to get the better of the wildcat this year and I'm glad Zorn has decided not to use it but I can't wait to see what Miami is going to do with it now that they have Pat White.


    Stedman Bailey 2012 Stat Tracker:
    12 Games, 106 Rec, 1501 yards, 23 TD's

    Steddy Ambition!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOnISzeG2Ao

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    • #3
      id like to see the Jets give it a try. remember we have brad smith. him and leon could be deadly together. i remember last year we ran a couple options with those 2. not really the wild cat but still.
      Penn State University - Detroit Red Wings - New York Jets - Red Bull New York - Fulham FC

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      • #4
        Originally posted by 703SKINS202 View Post
        I think that the wildcat can only be run effectivelty 5-10 times a game max. The beauty of it, like any trick play or formation, is that it catches the defense off gaurd. Sometimes it may just be one guy who guesses wrong but that's all it takes. One misstep by a backer or safety and you got yourself a problem. However, I really think defenses are going to get the better of the wildcat this year and I'm glad Zorn has decided not to use it but I can't wait to see what Miami is going to do with it now that they have Pat White.
        Obviously defenses are much more prepared for it, but still like I said I am sure OCs are adding new dimensions to it, and even with a prepared defense, there are 7 different options at one time, its hard to predict which one is coming at you.

        Bone Krusher, the best

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        • #5
          You make a very convincing and well thought out arguement. However, I disagree. I feel like the success of the wildcat is on the downfall already.

          It's simply not dependable. Lets say you're running it in a big game, playoffs or superbowl, etc. The opponent is going to spend an entire week watching game tape and getting ready for everything. It's not dependable when it's 3rd and short, and you can't count on it for chain moving pass plays either. I'd take a big, bruising OL like the Giants over Mike Vick, Pat White and Ronnie Brown any day.

          Is the quarterback lining up at WR really productive?

          Maybe you can't pin down what play is coming when you look at the formation, but when you have an NFL speed defense where all 11 guys are doing their job, I don't see how it's going to change much. The DL pushes the gaps they are assigned and the linebackers flow to the play. At best, it's not much different from a WR reverse play.

          Do you really want a running back throwing multiple passes per game? The Wildcat will turn out to have a higher turnover rate than most any other offense, IMO. For this reason and because asking the RB to assess the defense, make calls at the line and take a shotgun snap every play. To me, that's an opportunity for a well coached and talented defensive unit to create all kinds of chaos.

          I certainly wouldn't build a team for this formation. But I understand why the Dolphins are going down that road. If you can use a couple 2nd day draft picks and your existing personnel, it could be a great 1st and 10, 2nd and 5 formation when you are losing and need a big play. I just don't see it being used in big games, crucial situations. It's not going to make an average team that much better, or bring a simply good team to the superbowl.
          Last edited by umphrey; 06-02-2009, 06:59 PM.

          Thanks to BK for the sig

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Malaka View Post
            Obviously defenses are much more prepared for it, but still like I said I am sure OCs are adding new dimensions to it, and even with a prepared defense, there are 7 different options at one time, its hard to predict which one is coming at you.
            With more responsibility and different schemes though that face defenses, it also causes the same problems on offense. Think of how many more things can go wrong on offense if you have a base playbook with God knows how many plays and then another 20 plays of Wildcat where like you said the ball can go 7 different ways. Maybe this is my skins homerism coming out because we are too dumb imo to run this formation and we would just blow it, but I think only a couple teams are going to be succesful with the Wildcat and how much even I am still skeptical on. Teams better be ready though because I think we will see a lot of surprise Wildcat formations from teams you wouldn't expect. (Thigpen scored his recieveing TD out of the wildcat if I'm not mistaken.)


            Stedman Bailey 2012 Stat Tracker:
            12 Games, 106 Rec, 1501 yards, 23 TD's

            Steddy Ambition!
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOnISzeG2Ao

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            • #7
              in my opinion, the wildcat will be something that will work well during the regular season, but will falter in big games in the playoffs.

              i have a theory to that. last year, the wildcat was so effective because of its element of surprise. Last year when the dolphins showcased it against the pats, it was something that was never seen. But the reason that it wont work against teams in the playoffs is because teams that make the playoffs do their homeworks during the week in film study. Teams that sit down and have coaches who can plan against the wildcat, will be successful in defeating it.


              Go Ravens!

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              • #8
                If you look at the Maimi vs Baltimore game you can see the wildcat get thoroughly shut down. Baltimore had disciplined gap control and used blitzes to throw off the timing of the wildcat offense. I think in that game the Wildcat produced 4 yards and a false start in 5 attempts.


                Originally posted by Scott Wright
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by 703SKINS202 View Post
                  With more responsibility and different schemes though that face defenses, it also causes the same problems on offense. Think of how many more things can go wrong on offense if you have a base playbook with God knows how many plays and then another 20 plays of Wildcat where like you said the ball can go 7 different ways. Maybe this is my skins homerism coming out because we are too dumb imo to run this formation and we would just blow it, but I think only a couple teams are going to be succesful with the Wildcat and how much even I am still skeptical on. Teams better be ready though because I think we will see a lot of surprise Wildcat formations from teams you wouldn't expect. (Thigpen scored his recieveing TD out of the wildcat if I'm not mistaken.)
                  Obviously D-Coordinators plan against it, and of course it won't work every time, but like I said in my post O-Coordinators also have time to make adjustments and add more so the D-Coordinators must always be on task.

                  I also said in my post, that I think the Wildcat is here to stay but not necessarily as a base formation, I said that it will be used as a formation much like the spread/shotgun formation, maybe a team with the perfect personel can run it as full fledged offense, like the Patriots do with their spread like offense.

                  Bone Krusher, the best

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                  • #10
                    Not to interject because though you're correct with David Lee and Sparano implementing the offense in the NFL, Dan Henning played a fairly instrumental role.

                    When the Panthers had some QB issues with Chris Weinke filling in for Delhomme Henning dug deep into his playbook for some of the Wildcat plays we see being used in Miami for DeAngelo Williams (then a rookie) who was familiar with some of the packages due to some similar flavors of offense being used at memphis when a WR was forced to play QB for a period during his tenure there.

                    Henning is an often overlooked cog in that organisation and deserves at least some of the credit.

                    After re-reading this thread, I thought I might add, while the wildcat is "here to stay" and D-Coordinators haven't necessarily found the bane to it's existence we've seen a lot of examples of different offenses and defenses being developed to stop specific offenses, the WCO and the 34 immediately spring to mind.

                    Coordinators do adjust and there's no doubt in my mind that there's plenty of D coordinators dissecting film this year in preparation of facing the dolphins this coming season.
                    Last edited by BlindSite; 06-03-2009, 06:08 AM.

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                    • #11
                      I'd just like to point out that the "Wildcat" was not invented by any of these people, it was a mainstay of offenses in one of the earlier eras of the NFL.


                      The problem arises when people use statistics like a drunk uses a lamp post: for support instead of illumination.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Dam8610 View Post
                        I'd just like to point out that the "Wildcat" was not invented by any of these people, it was a mainstay of offenses in one of the earlier eras of the NFL.
                        Which is true I did read that somewhere. But there was a lot less passing in that old school offense which was more of a hard-nosed running offense.

                        Bone Krusher, the best

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                        • #13
                          I think the Wildcat may have already ran its course for now. And if the Dolphins drafted Pat White thinking they are going to run it even more than they did last year, they are going to be in for a rude awakening. The less you run it, the more effective it will be, if at all.

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                          • #14
                            I'd like to point out that the Browns have been using the wildcat or "flash" as we call it, for several years.


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                            • #15
                              Nice write up.


                              I agree it is here to stay and will be implemented by more teams this season and probably beyond. It won't be as a full time, base offense by any means, but it can be effective.


                              My thoughts on it are this: teams with stud QBs will not use it. There's just no sense in taking the ball out of a great QB's hands and asking a RB to make the correct decision, then make a good throw in passing situations. I love Kevin Faulk but I'm all set with him behind center while Brady lines up outside.

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