In 2007, the New England Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season and lost the Super Bowl in the Final seconds of the game. They may have been the best team in NFL history. That same year the Miami Dolphins were on pace to be the worst team in NFL history posting a 1-15 record. When the two teams met September 21, 2008, the Dolphins shocked the world by blowing out the Patriots 38-13. The biggest shock was that Running Back Ronnie Brown lined up to take six snaps in the game in what is known as the introduction to the “Wildcat” formation. While other teams have used the formation sparingly, the Dolphins scored four times out of the package and totally caught the Patriots off gaurd.
Miami then used the formation during the season to revive the franchise. The 2008 Miami Dolphins and the 1999 Indianapolis Colts are the only two teams in NFL History to have a 10 win improvement from the previous season. The Dolphins finished 2008 11-5, winning the AFC East.
It was this turn around in Miami, that was led by Brown, that has the more and more coaches desperate to include more “wildcat” plays into their playbooks too.
The strength of the wildcat formation is that it evens the sides of play. When a quarterback hands the ball off, a lot of times he is standing idle watching his offense play 10 on 11. In the Wildcat, the direct snap to the back means the defense has to stay true to their assignments. When you mix in motion and the threat of a reverse, the offense can have advantages. Yet, better defenses in the league that are prepared for the wildcat, know how to eliminate it.
The wildcat will always be around in the NFL. It has been ran from time-to-time before the Dolphins popularized it. The teams that benifit from it the most, are the teams without a top level quarterback. This is why it makes no sense for the Chargers to be installing it into their offense. Yes, the Chargers have Ronnie Brown on their roster now, but this is Philip Rivers team, and the more chances Rivers has to make plays, the better chances San Diego has of winning games this year.
San Diego has several new players in camp this year fighting for starting positions at wide receiver. Why Norv Turner is wasting time getting those players familiar with Rivers and the Chargers “traditional” playbook. ["Image by Zruda via Flickr"]
[RB Ronnie Brown taking the snap from center in the wildcat formation]
SAN DIEGO — Norv Turner has never been a big fan of the wildcat formation.
The run-based alignment in which the ball is snapped directly to a running back has been used minimally by the Chargers' head coach and offensive play-caller, but the offseason acquisition of Ronnie Brown may have changed his attitude a bit.
The veteran back, who's perhaps the NFL's best at operating the wildcat, could prompt Turner to add the smallest of wrinkles to his playbook.
“It's a way to get some runs against a team that doesn't handle it well,” Turner said. “I could envision us running it if it helps us match up against a team that's not very good at it. There are people that believe it takes away from the quarterback, but if it's three or four plays over the course of a game, there's some good to be gained from it.”…More at CHARGERS NOTES: With Brown on board, Turner testing wildcat – North County Times
- Chargers' Robert Meachem wants more tossed his way – Los Angeles Times
- Mailbag: Who's behind Ryan Mathews? – ESPN (blog)
About Michael Bermant
Michael Bermant is an avid sports fan and former college football player that attends many sporting events and writes for many sports related websites.