Dolphins Wildcat clips

I put this together for something I’m working on with Football Outsiders that is upcoming. The ‘Fins used a balanced, two tight-end set with their wildcat look. (And I think subbed in a runningback for the split receiver to the sweep side.) Note how on the jet sweep the fullback manages to crush the outside linebacker, Calvin Pace, thus springing Ricky Williams. On the second clip, the power play, watch how Jets linebacker Bart Scott is unblocked but nevertheless takes too wide of an angle, likely influenced by the jet sweep. The Dolphins get a great push, and Ronnie Brown is able to score. This clip is a nice follow-on to my recent NY Times blog post. For the game, the Dolphins used one form of the “wildcat” or another (I know the term is stupid) sixteen times for over seven yards per play.

  • Talk about a ‘paradigm shift’ in the NFL! – the last drive of the game was about as ‘out of the box’ as you could get! Four different players (Henne, Brown, Williams, and White) taking a snap in that drive, are you kidding me!? You don’t even see that in college or high school!

    With this performance by the Phins and the ‘wild horses’ Denver rolled out this week vs New England (very creative by Josh McDaniels)… things are looking very bullish for single wing, spread offense run first football in the NFL.

  • Mr.Murder

    The boss sweep, they’ve coached the guys on how long to maintain a hold, that was pretty clear cut at the point of attack that he was held to a point he couldn’t turn.

    What was more interesting is how intensely they pace practice to match each grouping and substitution wave so the players find actual rhythm at the passer position.

  • Mr.Murder

    The main item would be the consistency of the snap, are all shotgun targets the same depth? Does the center change tech from snaps for run plays or to running backs to what he does for the passer snaps?

  • OldSouth

    That was beautiful to watch last night. I thoroughly enjoyed that game. Haven’t enjoyed an NFL game like that in years, I don’t think.

  • Matthew Carden


    I think this game was also a representation of what the NFL old guard is fighting in the “Wildcat”.

    Name any other level of football where a wide receiver could join a team and be a factor in such a quick time. The NFL offense is done over and over and over.

    It’s why the Dolphins (the Wildcat moreso), the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams, the 90’s Run and Shoot offenses had so much fanfare.

  • Tim F.

    I’m glad you’re taking notice and great piece in the NYT. Last night forced me to expand the definition of “Wildcat” from the true formation described by you in the NYT because of the frequent almost-22 formation for Ronnie’s snaps. Balanced line, 2 TEs, no QB wide out, 4 RBs.

    Can’t wait to read how Miami is achieving the same advantage at the line as the unbalanced line, and can’t wait to see what the new (newish? Did we see it occasionally last year?) Wildcat has in store.

  • After watching the clips, again and again and again, it seems to me that missed tackles were the main reason that the Jets failed to stop the wildcat. Ie the gap discipline just wasnt there.

    Do you think this could be because:
    1. The jets are overconfident on the run?
    2. Ronnie and Ricky and the fish have the perfect personnel for this kind of offense?
    3. The JETS are still very new to Rex Ryans system and dont understand it well enough yet?
    4. It was the damn heat?
    5. Was the football hard to see with those damn orange jerseys?

    Its really weird because we saw lots of good players missing tackles … everyone from Bart Scott, Harris to Jim Leonhard. Everyone was making late reads on who had the ball.


  • stan

    Pro running games rarely have multiple threats. Defenses simply read and run to the ball. The Wildcat forces teams to play assignment football. That’s why Miami ripped the Colts so bad — Indy’s defense is the poster boy for a scheme based on speed and swarming to the ball. Make them stay at home and they can’t hold up at the point of attack.

    What I find amazing is that almost all the advantages of the Wildcat are available with a regular QB taking the snap. The wing-T incorporated the same misdirection, multiple running threat running game that the single wing had. Anyone can have running threats posed by RBs getting fakes in various directions while still having a legit passing threat at QB who can burn the defense with play action.

    A quality passer poses a more serious threat to a defense than an offense which substitutes an extra RB for that QB. Football had this debate 5 or 6 decades ago and the outcome was a rout in favor of the passer.

    Pro defenses will adjust to the Wildcat when they re-learn how to mirror the running game. Establish sufficient anchor points in the defensive line, mirror the backs with the LBs, overlap with the secondary. Don’t be surprised to see teams respond with personnel packages of 5 DL or 4 LBs to the run-oriented packages put in by the Dolphins.

  • Chris Hunt

    Is it just me, or does Ricky fake a fumble on the touchdown?

  • Disgustipate

    I have no idea what Williams is doing on that one. It looked like a cut block in some of the videos I’ve seen, but there is no one there at all.

  • DM

    I thought it was a fake fumble live too, but a replay from the far side of the field showed that he simply tripped over his own feet.

  • Tim F.

    Ricky injured his ankle earlier in the drive and had left the game. He came back in to play the sweep on the last and game-sealing Cat. You are seeing him give up the guise of health and a legitimate sweeping threat and falling down in pain, exhaustion, celebration. He continues to nurse the ankle injury.

  • Yep, turf monster and slight ankle sprain tripped Ricky up on the game winning TD… he still did the job of holding the perimeter defense. Ronnie Brown does a great job of ‘getting skinny, with power’ in the whole on those power plays, he’s a very gifted runner.