NFL REPORT

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Time will tell how much the wildcat offense is used this season but with last year’s success, expect more teams to try it.
The Miami Dolphins, who shocked the New England Patriots 38-13 in week 3 last season, did so with the use of the wildcat, a play in which the running back usually takes a direct snap. The Dolphins scored four touchdowns off the play, which they utilized six times for 119 yards.
Miami, which enjoyed the most success in the NFL with the wildcat in 2008, ran 90 wildcat plays for 580 yards and eight TDs during the season. The Dolphins didn’t get much of a chance to use it in this year’s season-opener, as they were whipped by Atlanta. But expect the Dolphins, and others, to put the wildcat to good use throughout the season.
Last year, about half of the teams in the NFL incorporated wildcat plays into their offenses. Arizona’s Anquan Boldin gained 31 yards on one play in week 8. Baltimore’s Troy Smith hit quarterback Joe Flacco for a 43-yard pass in another contest. Oakland’s Darren McFadden averaged five yards per carry running the wildcat. Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester took a couple of direct snaps in 2008, as did Kansas City running back Larry Johnson. Teams worked on the play, both how to run it and stop it, during preseason camp.
What makes the wildcat so dangerous is its unpredictability. It’s difficult to know if the “quarterback” will run, hand off or pass. A running back or wide receiver might take the direct snap. The quarterback becomes a runner, or a blocker. And it’s hard for a defensive player to know who to block.
The question about the wildcat offense will be how long it will stick around in the NFL. Until every team figures out how to stop it. As long as it’s used sparingly, kind of like a pitcher’s change up, it’s bound to have a long shelf life.

Cowboys Stadium
At a cost of $1.2 billion, Cowboys Stadium is one of the most extravagant sports venues ever built. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wanted it that way. Some of the interesting things about it and what the Cowboys are offering include:

  • A gigantic video board that extends between each 20 yard-line, and one that punters will likely kick the ball into from time to time, like Tennessee’s A.J. Trapasso did in the pre-season.
  • Players enter the field through a bar with fans surrounding them.
  • A glass wall on one end of the stadium is inverted at a 14-degree angle.
  • The Cowboys offer a Party Pass for $29 that is for standing room, for 20,000 fans.

Week 1 Awards

  • Best comeback: Tom Brady led New England on two scoring drives in the last 2:06 to beat Buffalo 25-24. He hit Benjamin Watson on an 18-yard touchdown pass, then connected with Watson again on a 16-yarder for the game-winner.
  • Worst debut with team: Jay Cutler threw four interceptions in Chicago’s loss at Green Bay.
  • Most helpful to an old quarterback: Adrian Peterson took most of the pressure off 39-year old Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre by running for 180 yards and three TDs.
  • Longest domination over one team: The San Diego Chargers have won 12 consecutive games over the Raiders, and the Patriots have beaten Buffalo 12 straight times to tie for the longest active streak.
  • Best rookie debut: Former USC star Mark Sanchez went 18 of 31 for 272 yards and a TD in the Jets 24-7 victory at Houston.
  • Top brothers rushing performance: Thomas Jones of the Jets ran for 107 yards, two TDs, and his brother Julius Jones ran for 117 yards with a TD for Seattle. It’s the fourth time that they each ran for 100 yards on the same day.
  • Best six-pack: Saints QB Drew Brees tied a team record by throwing for six touchdowns.
  • Incredible weight lifted off his shoulders: Tony Romo, who doesn’t have to deal with the whining of Terrell Owens any longer, had the highest QB rating in week 1 at 140.6. He went 16-for-27 for 353 yards, three TDs and no interceptions.
  • For bringing your fans back down to Earth: The Detroit Lions, who made some of their fans giddy with a 3-1 pre-season record, lost their 18th straight regular-season game.
  • Most miraculous play: Kyle Orton’s 87-yard, deflected and caught a touchdown pass by Brandon Stokley with 11 seconds left to give Denver a 12-7 win over Cincinnati.

Copyright © 2009 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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