Ricky makes wildcat a non-factor

I loved watching Ricky Williams run the ball Thursday night.

To be honest, I was shocked that the Dolphins became a conventional football team, running the football downhill out of the Strong-I formation and leaning on the Power-O strong and the Lead Open weak.

The wildcat — the formation that has become synonymous with the Dolphins — became what it is for every other team in the NFL: a gimmick.

To my surprise, without Ronnie Brown in the lineup, the Dolphins used the wildcat sparingly. And when Miami needed a play, or needed to continue a drive, it was mostly Ricky running downhill, breaking tackles and looking like a workhorse feature back at the age of 32.

Williams finished with 119 yards on 22 carries and three TDs overall in a game the Dolphins desperately needed to get back to .500 and stay in the wild card race for the time being.

But what was more telling about Ricky’s performance was his ability to carry this offense. I’ll agree that Chad Henne and his receivers made some key plays on third downs, but the Dolphins were in manageable third-down situations for the most part because of Ricky’s ability to run the ball on first and second downs.

On his 46-yard TD run — which basically won this game for Miami — the Dolphins didn’t have to align in the wildcat, insert Pat White (whom I thought we’d see plenty of) or window dress their offense. The Dolphins called for your basic Lead Open (an off-tackle power play to the weak side) behind FB Lousaka Polite. But what made it special was Williams’ ability to make one cut — and then get down field fast with explosion. He read the block perfectly, picked a hole and was gone. A perfect example of the night Ricky had, because he ran hard whenever he got the ball and finished runs — hitting the second level and dragging Panthers defenders on several occasions.

Because of that run, and because of the night Ricky had, we didn’t hear much about the Dolphins’ feature back, Ronnie Brown, who is out for the season with a foot injury.

I don’t know if the Dolphins can ride Williams all the way to the postseason, but it’s obvious that if they want to be a conventional power-running football team, Ricky is more than capable of taking the ball and producing.

And he’s fun to watch.

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Check out the Miami Dolphins team page at the NFP.

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