Easterbrook “In Defense of the Wildcat”

From the usually-excellent Gregg Easterbrook:

In Defense of the Wildcat: Why is the Wildcat being called a gimmick? Nobody says it’s a gimmick when the Patriots run the shotgun spread. Nobody says it’s a gimmick when the Steelers or Packers go with an empty backfield. There’s a presumption that only a conventional set with a quarterback standing in the pocket counts as real offense. Offense is yards gained! On Sunday night against the Giants, the Cardinals put defensive back Antrel Rolle behind center in a Wildcat formation. Surely the Cardinals’ coaches thought Jersey/A would assume run, and be surprised when Rolle threw. This worked so well that Larry Fitzgerald even seemed surprised when the pass hit him right on the hands, and he dropped the ball. A penalty wiped Rolle’s attempt off the stat sheet. Had the play worked, that would have been yards gained, plus pretty entertaining. Probably various touts and former jocks in the sports media object to the Wildcat because they didn’t think of it first.If Miami’s receiving corps had not dropped five perfectly thrown passes in the second half against New Orleans, the Wildcat would have triumphed over the conventional offense of the league’s highest-scoring team bearing in mind that a shotgun formation with three wide receivers now counts as “conventional”. Two of the drops were by super-highly-paid high draft pick wide receiver Ted Ginn, who, considering he is super-highly-paid to be an NFL wide receiver, really at some point should learn how to catch a football. On the Marine Mammals’ only Wildcat throw, Anthony Fasano dropped a perfectly delivered deep pass from Ronnie Brown, which would have put the home team in Saints territory in the fourth quarter. Instead, Miami punted. The New Orleans offense performed well at Miami, but bear in mind that two of the visitor’s five second-half touchdowns came on interception returns. Both were passes intercepted when Miami was in a conventional offense; one hit Ginn squarely on the hands for what should have been a long gain, and instead caromed into the air for an interception and six New Orleans points. Indeed, if the super-highly-paid Ginn would simply catch the passes that hit his hands, Miami might be 4-2, rather than 2-4.

via Tuesday Morning Quarterback: Coaching is overrated – ESPN.

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