Patriots-Dolphins matchup of the day: Tuesday

Posted Sept. 28, 2010 @ 2:51 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a look at a key matchup heading into Monday night's Week Four game between the Patriots and Dolphins.

Patriots defense vs. "Wildcat" formation

While the Dolphins have had some struggles in their "Wildcat" formation this season, it is still one of their go-to strategies inside the red zone. The Pats saw the "Wildcat" once last Sunday when Bills RB C.J. Spiller ran for nine yards. New England's rush defense is better than their pass defense, but that's not saying much, as they gave up 134 yards on the ground to the Bills and 136 to the Jets. Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano doesn't see a change in the "Wildcat" any time soon, so they will likely run out of the formation at least five times on Monday night, depending on how successful it is. When the Jets shut down the "Wildcat" on two drives in Week Three, the Dolphins had to settle for field goals, so the Patriots need to be ready for it to keep the 'Fins out of the endzone.

The Pats' front seven needs to handle the extra blocker with Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown taking the direct snap and not fall for any trickery. Brown attempted one pass in Week Three that fell incomplete, and RB Patrick Cobbs and WR Brandon Marshall both received handoffs from the "Wildcat." With enough penetration from NT Vince Wilfork, the Patriots can stop the "Wildcat" before it gets started, but the OLBs (Jermaine Cunningham, Rob Ninkovich and Gary Guyton) will need to be ready on the edge in case of a reverse.