Friday, October 16, 2009

Miami's Wildcat - More Than a Gimmick

The New York Jets entered week five's Monday Night Football game with all the necessary tools to stop Miami's run game and, most importantly, the Wildcat. The Jets were allowing under 100 rushing yards per game, were ranked in the top 10 in rush defense and had Rex Ryan (last season's Wildcat stopper in Baltimore) as their head coach. All those factors would lead many NFL analysts and football enthusiasts to believe that the Wildcat would not be as effective as usual.

As we know now, that wasn't the case.

The Dolphins recorded 151 yards on the ground with over 100 of those yards coming from the Wildcat formation, which was run 19 times throughout the game. Rex Ryan did not have the answer for Miami's dynamic formation this time around, perhaps because two particular defensive studs by the name of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were not part of his arsenal. Whatever the case may have been, the Dolphins not only executed it successfully, they literally won the game with it.

So is the Wildcat really a gimmick or is it becoming a legitimate part of NFL offensive playbooks? The debate is quickly shifting towards the idea of legitimacy in the league.

There is a reason why Miami is ranked number one in rushing offense - the Wildcat. The concept of gimmick suggests that the Wildcat is a short-term solution that is only effective because of how "new" it is. Well, Miami has now used the Wildcat for an entire season and is continuing to execute it in 2009, meaning that it has become a long-term solution and is no longer a surprise to opposing teams.

Given that, it's difficult to apply the term gimmick to the Wildcat anymore.

Even with all of the skepticism it received from New York Jets coaches and players, the Jets themselves executed two direct snaps and a fake punt in the Monday Night game.

Since those plays were used sparingly and were not a part of their general offensive strategy, they could be deemed gimmicks in the purest sense of it.

Now that the Wildcat has broken loose on two Monday Night Football games in front of national audiences, maybe the skeptics will become more accepting of the reality that it is here to stay. Don't expect Miami to stop lining up Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams at QB any time soon.

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