Wednesday, November 04, 2009
DEFENDING AGAINST THE WILDCAT
The Patriots host the Dolphins this Sunday, and you know what that means. The Wildcat offense will once again be overhyped.
I'd actually like to give credit to some people who haven't gotten any in the National Sports Media: the Dolphins offensive line. The whole Wildcat scheme gets too much credit, the guy carrying the ball gets too much credit, Bill Parcells gets too much credit. Nobody gives any credit to Miami's O-Line. And just watch for successful Wildcat plays, then look at the huge holes opened up by their line. Look for how they tie up defensive ends and OLBs, preventing them from making plays on the backside's of runs.
The key to defeating the Wildcat is to defeat Miami's line in the trenches. It's that simple.
Another key is to score points. If Brady and Co. continue to put up touchdowns, it puts a lot of pressure on the Dolphins to throw the ball with Chad Henne. That just makes my mouth water. But the lead has to be two scores at least. Miami used their Wildcat in a 4 minute drill against the Jets down by a TD, and it worked beautifully.
A consistent running offense would be a nice thing to have in order to drain the clock and put pressure on the Dolphins to pass. But oh well, you can't have everything.
I don't think you want just pure speed against a Wildcat. Many of the bigger plays come from the middle, eventually busting to the outside once the carrier gets to the 2nd level. This is where the afore-mentioned O-Line plays a big part.
I think you want size in the middle, in order to maintain the line of scrimmage. I don't know how Ron Brace has looked in practice, but a guy as big as him, tag-teaming with Vince Wilfork, and supported by Jerod Mayo; can really dominate the middle.
If you clog up the center, you force the plays to go outside. That's where you want them to go. The more they run horizontally, the less they run vertically. This is where your speedsters and sure tacklers enter the equation.
Brandon Meriweather and Curtis McGowan will be leaned on heavily to make open field tackles on the outside. But you can't cheat and start them out there, they have to play the middle first, in case anything gets through your Wall of Wilfork-Brace/Pryor-Mayo.
The Patriots DBs aren't outstanding in coverage, but they can tackle. They learned the hard way how to tackle, by making mistakes on coverage.
I think the Patriots are well situated to stop the Wildcat. That's not the Dolphins' only bullet in their gun, but it's one that really hurt last season when these teams first played.
Prediction for Sunday's game: Patriots 31, Dolphins 21