Before Ronnie Brown went down for the year, Pat White was on his way to being incorporated into the Dolphins' offense.
His workload ramped up when Miami came to Foxborough in Week 9, as the Dolphins used him out of the shotgun in a zone-read option package, and out of the pistol with the speed option. And the Patriots got killed by White in the first half of the game -- with the versatile rookie QB keying a five-play, 80-yard touchdown drive -- before adjusting to hold him in check in the second half.
So now that the Patriots have seen White, what more can the Dolphins throw at New England to keep them off-balance, as they have so many times?
Here's what: Have White throw. He's 0-for-3 passing on the season, but it's all together possible that Miami could line up with White, and the threat of the option, and expand on what he does in the passing game there to exploit a defense geared up to stop the run. White threw one pass against New England in Foxborough, airmailing that ball over the head of Greg Camarillo in the second quarter.
"He threw the ball in preseason. He played quarterback and we did a lot of work on him at West Virginia and we know he can throw the ball," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said this afternoon. "He was a good passer and is a good passer. I think the things that they did, and even in our game, weíd seen before -- we actually worked on them we just didnít do them very well in the first half and then kind of got better in the second half -- but thatís one of things they do. Thatís one of the hard things about playing Miami: they keep it moving on you.
"You work on one thing and they are working on something else. Sometimes they come back to it; sometimes they donít, so youíve got a lot of different bases to cover. They did a good job of keeping us off balance. They just keep pecking away and sooner or later they get you on something [where] you donít have quite the right placement or technique or distribution on, and you can be in trouble."
Now that Brown's gone for the year, it's tougher for Miami incorporate their Wildcat elements, though they have used Ricky Williams as the quarterback in that role some.
White's helped fill the void, and that means the challenge is different.
"Ronnieís not the passer Pat is and Patís not the runner that Ronnie is, but they both can do elements of both," Belichick said. "Thatís how they give you problems. Thatís why they use them the way they have. Thatís why theyíre effective. They both can run. They both can throw. They have their strengths and they have enough versatility to put pressure on the defense. "