Does this ‘Cat still have claws?


The Patriots were the original victim of the Dolphins’ Wildcat attack, so it’s easy to see why Bill Belichick is staying on guard this week. He doesn’t see this facet of Miami’s varied offense going away on Monday night.

“They use it every week. It’s a part of their offense,” the coach said during his morning news conference. “They have a different version of it each week, they change the formation or the look. They give you a different look on it. … I think it’s still there, and every team’s gonna see it…(how much is determined) probably by how well they do or don’t do against it.”

There are plenty of tricks up the Dolphins’ sleeve beyond just that (Brandon Marshall playing tailback on a toss-sweep against the Jets, for example) for the Patriots to get ready for.

But if you want to focus on the Wildcat itself — a modernized single-wing set — then you will see its effectiveness isn’t quite what it once was. Here are the numbers, thanks to the Dolphins PR folks, produced by triggerman Ronnie Brown out of the look this year …

at Buffalo: 3 rushes, 10 yards, 0 TD
at Minnesota: 3 rushes, 1 yard, 0 TD
vs. Jets: 4 rushes, 13 yards, 0 TD
Total: 10 rushes, 24 yards (2.4-yard avg.), 0 TD

… Before this season, Brown had run 92 times of the ‘Cat for 604 yards (6.6-yard avg.) and seven touchdowns. That’s a marked decline, but as Belichick said, it’s a part of what the Dolphins do, and it’s not always Brown running it (Ricky Williams takes turns, too). So you can expect to see it Monday night. Whether it’ll be humming like it has in the past is another question.

“It doesn’t mean they can’t be efficient this game,” said safety Patrick Chung of the Wildcat’s slowdown. “We just have to be prepared for everything.  Like I said, they run a lot of stuff and have a lot of good players and they can do a lot of good things.”

A major point lies in Chung’s words — This is one of the many things that Miami coordinator Dan Henning makes a defense to prepare for. Which makes this a particularly tough week for New England defenders from a preparation standpoint.


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