|Dolphins vs. Raiders could be Wildcat showdown|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 13 November 2008 14:49|
``I remember the first week our guys put it in our offense, and it didn't work,'' defensive end Vonnie Holliday recalled. ``We were laughing, `That's not going to work.' Then we get to a game, and Ronnie goes off for four touchdowns.''
That was in mid-September, when the Dolphins sprung the single-wing-style plays on the New England Patriots and pulled off an upset victory.
Nearly two months later, the formation that revived a woebegone franchise is still getting the Dolphins to the end zone. The package nicknamed the Wildcat produced two touchdowns last week in a win over Seattle, and the Dolphins (5-4) are certain to use it Sunday against injury-plagued Oakland (2-7).
The Raiders may deploy it, too. Triggerman Darren McFadden hopes to play Sunday after missing the past three games with a toe injury.
has scored with the formation eight times, including plays of 62, 53 and 51 yards. The element of surprise has helped transform a team that went 1-15 last year into an improbable playoff contender.
``Most of us like the underdog role,'' running back Ricky Williams said. ``Now that we've proven we can play, that's going to go away, so as a team we're going to have to make an adjustment because other teams are going to take us seriously.''
Oakland is desperate for something to enliven its offense. The Raiders are last in the NFL with 113 points, and they've been outscored 70-16 while losing their past three games.
``We expect them to come out real tough,'' Miami receiver Greg Camarillo says. ``They say that when you back an animal into a corner they come out with aggression. That's probably the situation that they're in.''
The Wildcat might be the best bet to enliven the Raiders' offense. They used the formation occasionally early in the season, before McFadden hurt his toe Sept. 14. Oakland would get a further boost if quarterback JaMarcus Russell returns after missing last week's loss to Carolina because of a sore knee.
``I've got to manufacture some ways to score,'' said Tom Cable, who is 1-4 as interim coach and began calling the plays last week.
helved because his practice time has been limited.
``Without having the key ingredient to it, it's hard to do it,'' Cable said. ``We'll continue to put it in as Darren is healthy, comfortable and all that.''
The popularity of the package is spreading in the NFL, but the Dolphins have yet to face it in a game.
``We've practiced against it a bunch,'' coach Tony Sparano said. ``We're not searching for our answer. We know what it is. Now whether or not we execute it well enough, we'll see.''
The Wildcat is a big reason the Dolphins are tied for eighth in the league in offense after ranking 28th last year. They've scored eight touchdowns in 49 snaps from the formation - one every six plays. From other formations they're scoring once every 39 plays.
The Dolphins unveiled their latest Wildcat twist against Seattle, with Williams taking a straight-ahead handoff from Brown and bursting through an enormous hole for a 51-yard touchdown run.
``We've got some different little wrinkles, and we still have plenty more that we haven't shown,'' guard Justin Smiley said.
Brown and quarterback Chad Pennington have each thrown for a touchdown from the formation. Brown and Williams are each averaging more than 6 yards per carry from the set.
The Dolphins employ many other offensive schemes, as well, including a variation of the full-house T formation they introduced against Seattle.
ry atypical,'' said Pennington, a ninth-year pro. ``This is one of the first times I've seen in my career where so many people have been used and so many different things have been done on offense to create success.
``You're looking for an edge; you're looking for an advantage on Sunday to get you over the hump. That's what it's all about.''