It wasn't that long ago that the Dolphins carved up our beloved defense with this offensive scheme. I personally thought it was cool to watch this thing in action even though they nearly beat the Colts using it. The effectiveness of it is almost mindblowing. Don't believe me? Here are the stats for the Dolphins in their first five games running the Wildcat courtesy Dave Hyde of SI.com:
As for the Dolphins, let's not rely on expert commentary. Let's talk cold, dry statistics. They've run 48 Wildcat plays in five games and average 6.6 yards per play. They average 4.7 yards a play out of their base offense.
That's 40 percent more yards per play out of the Wildcat.
The Wildcat makes traditional Power O running plays look like kids play.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that the last stat is a bit skewed. The Dolphins, outside of the Wildcat offense, are lacking in many areas. Their offensive yards per play statistic would probably be a lot better if Tedd Ginn knew how to catch a football. So obviously if the Dolphins were dynamic in any other way aside from the Wildcat it probably would appear to be as amazingly uber as it is. But I digress.
Regardless of the skewed stats, the Wildcat has proven to be one of the greatest running schemes this league has ever seen. Yes, even better than Denver's famed zone blocking scheme where even running backs like Joseph Addai could become a 1500+ yard rusher. What? You didn't actually think the Broncos were that good at picking running backs did you?
The question that should be asked is, why is the Wildcat so effective? More specifically, why are the Dolphins so damn good at running the Wildcat?
Explanation after the jump.
The reason the Dolphins are so good are utilizing the Wildcat is quite simple really: It is their offense.
No other team in the league has dedicated as much time and resources in making this scheme work. Does it really surprise you when teams like the Eagles, Jaguars, Cardinals, Jets, and the Browns fail miserably at this offense? I know what you are thinking, the Browns fail at life so it's no shock that they can't run the Wildcat either. I get it, but my point stands.
It's not surprising to me because when you run it only once or twice a game, it is considered a gimmick/gadget play, and those types of plays are coin flips. They could produce big gains and possibly even touchdowns, or they could become complete busts.
Practicing this type of scheme is one thing, but perfecting it is another. Fortunately for the Dolphins, they also have a pretty good coach in Steve Bush who used to run this type of offense as a college coach. Aside from that, they have the proper personnel to run it. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams provide this offense with a great 1-2 punch and their offensive line is much improved over last year.
The question still lingers though; could or even should the Colts run it? The answer is no.
It's really not a matter of whether the Colts could run it, because I think they could. Lose a guy here, add a guy there, and voila, you've got the personnel to run the WildColt. I also believe our coaching staff is smart enough to understand and coach this scheme. But would it be effective enough to warrant implementation? Would the Colts dedicate practice time to learning all of the nuances to this scheme and try to utilize it like the Dolphins do?
While those are good questions to be asking, they still don't address the problem with the Colts running it.
The problem is that it conflicts with how the Colts offense is configured at present time, thus making it useless.
To no one's surprise, the central figure in the Colts' offense is Peyton Manning. The way it's set now, every person on the offense was hand selected to fit this scheme. They all have to cater to Peyton's abilities, not the other way around. The WildColt would nullify the play-action passing game which has been a staple of this offense for years. The Colts' offense is clearly better in both the pass and run with Peyton on the field. When Peyton lines up under center, even on 3rd and a mile, the opposing defense never really knows whether it's going to be a run or a pass. More often than not it's the latter, but that shadow of doubt that clouds their mind is still a competitive advantage in favor of the Colts.
So again, technically the Colts could run this scheme. In the end however, I don't think it'd be nearly as successful as having Peyton on the field running the show. Or in layman's terms, Peyton > WildColt.
Tip to metal_militia for the inspiration to write this.