Check out Miami's four animated play variations and how to beat it.
In an era in which most teams run a two-back system, the Wildcat formation fits in nicely. Most teams have a power back and a speed back, which is a perfect duo for this package. To have this formation work to its full potential, teams don't want to put their speed back in the shotgun -- unless he has experience at quarterback or can throw. Teams want to put their power back in the shotgun because the first option in the Wildcat is to have the running back take the snap and run between the tackles. The speed back fits best in the slot where he can pick up speed as he runs across the formation, take the handoff and run to the edge.
Plus, a tight end who can stretch the seam and a left guard who pulls well will help execute this play better. Here are teams other than Miami who would benefit from using the Wildcat:
Playmakers: RB LaDainian Tomlinson (shotgun), RB Darren Sproles (slot), TE Antonio Gates and LG Kris Dielman
Why it would work: Tomlinson has a great combination of balance, explosion, power and pure speed, while Sproles is extremely quick with excellent elusiveness. Both backs are dangerous in space. One could argue that both are speed backs, but because Tomlinson has the ability to throw, he should line up in shotgun. Plus, Tomlinson is better at running between the tackles. Gates is very physical, can press the seam and put a lot of pressure on a defense. Plus, Dielman can short or long pull and is not a liability in space when getting to the linebacker level.
Playmakers: RB Darren McFadden (shotgun), RB Justin Fargas (slot), TE Zach Miller and LG Robert Gallery
Why it would work: McFadden is familiar with the Wildcat from his time at Arkansas where he ran it from the shotgun. He even showed the ability to throw the ball, which is always a bonus in this scheme. Fargas has excellent size along with premier straight-line speed. Miller has a good burst out of the break and has enough downfield speed to stretch the middle seam. Gallery is massive, light on his feet and shows good lateral range, which would help him attack the B-gap or seal off the outside edge.
Playmakers: RB Marion Barber (shotgun), RB Felix Jones (slot), TE Jason Witten and LG Cory Procter.
Why it would work: Barber has decent straight-line speed with a slashing running style. He is a powerful, tough between-the-tackles runner with a nose for the goal line, while Jones is familiar with the formation because of his time at Arkansas. He lined up in the slot, while McFadden played quarterback. Witten has good hands, runs good routes and has good concentration for making tough catches over the middle. However, Procter does not fit this scheme as well as Kyle Kosier, who he's filling in for. Kosier shows good quickness out of his stance and adequate body control to adjust on the run when pulling to his right. Until Kosier gets back, the Cowboys would struggle running Jones to the edge because Procter doesn't have the same quickness.
Playmakers: RB Adrian Peterson (shotgun or slot), RB Chester Taylor (slot or shotgun), TE Visanthe Shiancoe and LG Steve Hutchinson.
Why it would work: Peterson has great inline vision and run instincts along with the ability to make lateral cuts and make defenders miss in a confined area, which would work on the dive plays. But Taylor has already shown the ability to throw when he completed a touchdown pass in Week 5 on "Monday Night Football." Shiancoe is a good athlete who can threaten interior seams, while Hutchinson is a solid pulling guard who can get out on the perimeter and searchlight defenders.
Playmakers: RB Kevin Faulk (shotgun or slot), RB Laurence Maroney (slot or shotgun), TE Benjamin Watson and LG Logan Mankins.
Why it would work: The Patriots have already learned from watching the Dolphins because Faulk scored on a direct snap from two yards out versus San Francisco in Week 5. It was interesting to see Faulk lined up in the shotgun because Maroney is better between the tackles on a dive. Regardless, it worked. Ideally, Faulk would play the slot because he is quicker moer than fast and has elusiveness in space. Maroney can hit the hole hard with power coming downhill or bounce the ball outside effectively. Watson has good speed to stretch seams with enough quickness and agility to be an effective short and intermediate route-runner. Plus, Mankins is decent to pull and searchlight defenders.
Playmakers: RB Michael Robinson (shotgun), RB Frank Gore (slot), TE Vernon Davis and LG Adam Snyder
Why it would work: Robinson played quarterback at Penn State, so he would have no problem throwing the ball downfield, and he is big enough to run between the tackles. Gore runs with power and authority, lowering his pads to deliver blows with a good, short burst. Davis has rare downfield speed and can be explosive off the line, while Snyder has above-average initial quickness and does a good job of getting into position to make blocks.
Playmakers: WR Antwaan Randle El, RB Clinton Portis, TE Chris Cooley and LG Pete Kendall
Why it would work: Randle El can stop and start suddenly, has good quickness and body control to shake off defenders. He was also a quarterback at Indiana and has shown the ability to throw downfield. Portis accelerates quickly, has good vision to hit the hole and is fast enough to outrun angles at the corner. Cooley can stretch the field vertically as well as work effectively underneath, while Kendall has good quickness and athletic ability when pulling. Plus, he can turn the corner and adjust to the target in space.
Gary Horton, a pro scout for Scouts Inc., has been a football talent evaluator for more than 30 years. He spent 10 years in the NFL and 10 years at the college level before launching a private scouting firm, The War Room.