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Dolphins' passing game comes alive, but 'Wildcat' stumbles

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Posted Sept. 27, 2010 @ 2:33 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

The Dolphins' 31-23 loss to the Jets in Week Three might be known as the game the Dolphins finally unveiled their new passing attack with WR Brandon Marshall.

It also could go down as a game that makes head coach Tony Sparano and offensive coordinator Dan Henning rethink the "Wildcat."

Henne threw for a career-high 363 yards and two TDs. Marshall had 10 catches for a season-high 166 yards receiving with a TD, but it wasn't enough to topple the Jets. While the Dolphins' defense had some breakdowns covering Jets WR Braylon Edwards and TE Dustin Keller, their offense was good enough to get them to 3-0.

The offense stalled when the "Wildcat" was used. In seven plays out of the "Wildcat" formation, the Dolphins ran for six yards and had one incomplete pass.

The PFW Spin

Last week, I mentioned how the scary part of the Dolphins' 2-0 start was that we had yet to see them live up to their potential on offense. We finally got to see the passing game in Week Three, but the Dolphins are 2-1, not 3-0.

After a shaky opening possession, Henne got into a rhythm, hitting his star Marshall and finding slot receivers Brian Hartline and Davone Bess often. Henne was an impressive 9-for-14 for 123 yards and a TD on third down.

But the Dolphins had two drives stall and they had to settle for field goals because of failed attempts using the "Wildcat" on first down. In fact, the Jets seemed to have much more success with the "Wildcat" (25 yards on three carries).

The "Wildcat" is designed to be used in the red zone and give RB Ronnie Brown an extra blocker. On one drive, Brown did have back-to-back productive carries out of the "Wildcat" that led to a Henne-to-Marshall TD pass, but those were two of just three carries out of the formation that gained positive yards.

With a seemingly ineffective "Wildcat" on Sunday night but a potent passing game, the Dolphins may want to rethink how they try to get points in the red zone. Henne has plenty of weapons, and the Dolphins also could simply hand the ball off to Brown and Ricky Williams. It may not be flashy, but this might be the year it is more effective.

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