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Defense prepares for “wild” day

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Casey Pearce
    Posted Sep 24, 2009

    The Chargers’ defense devoted a lot of time this offseason in preparation for the “Wildcat” offense, and they hope their work pays off Sunday when the Miami Dolphins come to town.

    Over the course of the last several months, the Chargers have spent time preparing to face the “Wildcat” offense that took the NFL by storm last fall. This week the Miami Dolphins bring the Wildcat to San Diego and Head Coach Norv Turner is glad his defense got a head start.

    “Just watching the way we prepared today, if we hadn’t done it, there’s no way you could get ready in three days,” Turner said. “I was pleased with the way our guys identified what was happening, the way they were prepared and the focus they had in getting in position to handle what they see. After that, it’s a physical game and they’re going to have to do a great job of tackling.”

    Linebacker Shaun Phillips[​IMG] believes the latter part of Turner’s words are the biggest key to shutting down Miami’s unique approach, one through which they gained 49 yards on 11 such plays against the Chargers, including a five-yard touchdown run, in a Week 5 meeting between the two teams last season.

    “It’s about being physical,” Phillips said. “You’ve got to attack and dictate. The key to stopping it is beating the guy in front of you. The same rules have always been applied to football that’s see ball and go get ball.”

    Miami’s Week 5 win over the Chargers last season marked just the second time they’d unveiled their now popular tool. The Wildcat, which featured running back Ronnie Brown taking a direct snap, became a staple of their offense throughout their AFC East title run a year ago.

    The Dolphins used the Wildcat just once in their Week 1 loss at Atlanta two weeks ago, but Monday they had it roaring against the Colts. They gained 107 yards on 12 plays out of the formation versus Indianapolis with Brown keeping the ball himself or handing it to fellow backs Ricky Williams and Patrick Cobbs.

    Last season, Brown occasionally threw out of the Wildcat and often improvised on run plays. Miami ran a reverse pass with quarterback Chad Pennington lined up as a receiver, and the Dolphins drafted quarterback Pat White in the second round this spring to give them a new wrinkle, although White has been utilized little.

    “There are so many things you can do out of it,” linebacker Shawne Merriman[​IMG] said. “It’s about doing your job and being where you’re supposed to be. Nobody has really found a very successful way to shut it down.”

    When the Dolphins rolled out the Wildcat last season, some called it a fad and wondered how long it would last. Turner sees it as an effective way to keep defenses on their toes.

    “I don’t see it as a gimmick,” Turner said. “They run very basic football plays and they do it with different people. The key to any system, any offense or any defense, is that you’re putting your best players in a position where they can do what they do. That’s what they do with their running backs, particularly with Brown. Sometimes he runs the play that’s designed and sometimes he freelances, but it gives him a chance to use his athletic ability. It’s very well coached and very well conceived.”

    As teams have had a whole offseason to prepare for Miami’s unique attack, Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano and his staff have worked hard to keep things fresh and stay ahead of the curve.

    “I think you’re challenged by the fact that every team in the league has done their homework,” Sparano said. “You know that as coaches. We know that every team in the league has broke down all of our plays and either tried to use it or tried to stop it. You’re challenged in that when you’re in the game, the different looks that are presented to you, you have to be prepared to adjust to and you’re also challenged by your practices during the week and maybe how you can go ahead and prepare.”

    Sparano said his only objective in adopting the Wildcat was to get each of his talented backs on the field more often. The fact that Miami rushed for 239 yards against the Colts last week and 167 in last year’s meeting with the Chargers speaks to the skill Sparano has in his backfield.

    Unique scheme or not, those players along with Miami’s big, physical offensive line have the attention of the Chargers this week. San Diego allowed 148 rushing yards in their opener and 130 last week to the Ravens, something Phillips sees as uncharacteristic of the Chargers’ defense.

    “Our mindset going into every game is to stop the run,” Phillips said. “We haven’t done a great job of that the first two weeks, but that’s our focus. If we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win any football game, we’ve got to start with stopping the run. We’ve got to do a better job of anchoring and being more stout at the point of attack. We don’t make excuses but our mindset this week is to do a great job against the run.”

  2. G-ForceSage

    G-ForceSage BoltTalker

    Sep 24, 2009
    In the wildcat, the RBs have to be shadowed. If Ronnis Brown is on the field, a D-man has to stay with him. Just like defending the option in college.

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