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The Wildcat: The NFL's Latest Fad
Authored by Randolph Charlotin - 25th October, 2008 - 10:12 am

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There are a couple of truisms in the NFL: Gimmicks will work for only so long, and it?s a copycat league.

Gadget plays will only work until teams figure out a solution for them, but that won?t stop teams from trying it out for themselves.

This season the Miami Dolphins introduced the league to their "Wildcat" offensive set. Running back Ronnie Brown lines up under center in the shotgun formation while quarterback Chad Pennington splits out wide.

From this look, the Dolphins can either run or pass in several ways. So far this package of plays has often been productive for the 'Fins.

That is why the Cleveland Browns used the formation against the New York Giants a few weeks ago. Not to be left out, the New York Jets tried it on the Oakland Raiders as well.

They probably won?t be the only teams borrowing the "Wildcat."

While copying is the sincerest form of flattery, the least teams can do is give their gadget offense a unique name. While some teams have tried or will try their own form of Miami?s fad, some teams aren?t sold on the new attack:

New Openings ? New England lacks healthy running backs. Laurence Maroney is on injured reserve, LaMont Jordan is injured frequently, and now Sammy Morris is on the shelf. The Patriots backfield is accepting applications.

Sideshow ? If the New York Jets are willing to trade for one year of quarterback Brett Favre as a way to sell tickets, then adding some trickery to the offense should attract more paying customers.

Wild Hogs ? It?s a way to pay homage to the Washington Redskins' offensive-lines of the past, while establishing themselves as the next great unit of road-graders.

Wildcat, Smildcat ? When you have the top rushing offense in the league, like the New York Giants, you don?t need gimmicks.

One-Ball ? As in one ball for Terrell Owens, Roy Williams, Jason Witten, Marion Barber, and Felix Jones to share on one Dallas Cowboys offense. Owens wants to change it to I-Ball, as in the ball is mine.

Lame Cat ? Wildcat? Please! Pittsburgh has been running funky gadget plays for years. The Steelers aren?t impressed.

Hands-Free ? With six staph infections since 2005, it?s best for the Cleveland Browns to keep their hands to themselves and reduce the chances of the bacteria spreading. Every ball exchange will be a toss.

Silver Screen ? Maybe Goldie Hawn can coach either the Cincinnati Bengals or the Detroit Lions to a win. She did it in the movie "Wildcats."

Barbaro ? The Indianapolis Colts look no better than the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner that broke his leg during the Preakness.

Wildcat ? For goodness sakes, they?re called the Houston Texans. Like they are going to get creative now.

Stealth ? The Tennessee Titans have quietly gone undefeated after seven weeks. Has anyone noticed? That will change with a win on Monday night.

The Davis or The Kiffin ? Depends on the success of the plays for the Oakland Raiders. If it works great, Al Davis names it after himself. If it is a complete failure, he blames former coach Lane Kiffin.

Last Resort ? The Kansas City Chiefs have placed two quarterbacks on IR this season (Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard). They have no choice, but to snap the ball to a running back.

Tiger ? In the mind of head coach Mike Shanahan, the runner doesn?t matter. The ball carrier must fit the Denver Broncos' scheme. In other words, you can?t change a tiger's stripes.

Crouching Tiger ? They?ve been dormant all year, but the St. Louis Rams have pounced into action with two straight wins.


For more by Randolph Charlotin, check out his blog at http://www.newenglandpatriotsnews.com/randolphc/weblog/. He can be contacted at lordrc@netzero.net.