Is White the Dolphins’ new playmaker?

It seems that Pat White just became a bigger part of the Dolphins’ game plan.

And now it’s time to see if all the hype about the Miami rookie is for real — because the loss of Ronnie Brown (which is huge for this offense) gives White an opportunity. And I think we’ll see exactly how talented he can be for the Dolphins tonight against the Panthers.

We’ve talked about it before, and it’s still obvious that the Dolphins are unconventional as an offense, but White hasn’t had the impact we all thought he would when he was drafted last spring. Sure, we’ve seen glimpses of him running the spread option at times, but this offense was designed around the legs and downhill running styles of Brown and fellow running back Ricky Williams.

But that will have to change now that Brown is out of the lineup for the remainder of the ’09 season after suffering a foot injury. What made Brown so good lining up in the wildcat was his ability to show patience with the ball after the snap, let the play develop, and then come downhill with speed and power — hitting the second level of the defense and producing.

It looked creative, and it sounds creative, but the play that Brown made a living on turned out to be the No.1 off-tackle running play in the NFL — the Power O — disguised by a fake handoff and an extra blocker because of the scheme.

Yes, Ricky can still run that play, but the other reason it was successful was because of his presence as the player coming in motion and occasionally taking the handoff from Brown. It was an added dimension that caused game plan nightmares for defensive coordinators across the league.

However, Miami can start to incorporate White, the former West Virginia QB, into the mix, get more creative and use him not only in the spread option but also in the passing game. I don’t expect it to be a lead call for this team because of starting QB Chad Henne, but it’s an option — and those options are still the reason the Dolphins are so tough to prepare for.

Especially on a short week.

Unconventional teams like Miami cause major issues for defensive coordinators, primarily for teams such as the Panthers that aren’t a common opponent. In a regular game week, plenty of practice time and meeting room time would be spent watching Miami’s opponents scheme the wildcat and coming up with a game plan that plays to the personnel of your team.

In a short week, however, this time is cut in half -- and now the Dolphins have a major advantage because of White.

Studying Brown and the Power O in a short week could have been managed to some degree with film, but with White, no one really knows what to expect tonight in Charlotte.

Will there be more of an option attack when he’s in the gun? What can we expect in terms of the passing game? Is there a tape we can watch? A lot of questions and not many answers after playing Sunday and hosting a game four days later — a huge game for Carolina if it wants to stay in the NFC wild card discussion.

My guess is that the Panthers will resort to their Tampa 2 seven-man front when White comes into the game because it’s designed on basic schematic principals with all seven players in the back end taught to face the line of scrimmage at all times. At least then the Panthers know they can read their keys — and react to whatever White brings out of the huddle.

Regardless, this is a game where White can and should be used as an unconventional weapon by the Dolphins. Losing Brown for the season is big, but the way this team plays as an offense, don’t be surprised to see White become the next in line when it comes to offensive schemes that we don’t see outside of the SEC.

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Check out the Miami Dolphins team page at the NFP.

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