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Saturday, April 25, 2009

It begins: Pat White to Dolphins -- "A wildcat that can throw"

Pat White was selected by the Dolphins, and, at the risk of getting overexcited, there might be real ramifications to this.

As Jon Gruden just said, and I do my best to recollect his words from memory: "I've been studying the spread offense all last season, and it gives you a player advantage. Defenses were dropping extra guys into the box for the wildcat -- well here's a wildcat that can throw."

Implicit in what Gruden said is that what the Dolphins can do is go beyond to wildcat to simply the spread itself: the quarterback as dual threat, which puts the defense -- and specifically the safeties -- in an incredible bind. I have much discussed these ideas previously. Keep in mind too that Gruden knows what he's talking about on this point: he just returned from the University of Florida clinic where he lectured and talked with and learned from Bill Belichick and Urban Meyer -- and Meyer's offense was a particularly important subject, particularly the bind that a true dual threat quarterback provides.

Now, I'm not predicting White as rookie of the year, or that he will displace Chad Pennington, but this is an important pick because he goes to a team that knows what they are doing with this stuff. David Lee and Dan Henning obviously brought in the Wildcat series last season -- which relies on the same spread offense principles seen throughout college -- but did so without a true passing threat except as a gimmick. White should play about a series or two a game, and it will be fascinating to see how it plays out. (Note too it also eliminates all the injury fears common to going full-spread-to-run in the pros: if White got hurt they still have their starting quarterback.) Video below on the wildcat. Now add the passing element.

It begins.


Anonymous said...

Why does a "Spread" dual Threat QB give you an advantage vs. a non spread dual threat qb? Isn't it the dual threat of the qb itself the thing that puts the defense in the bind and not whether there are lets say two TE and 2 Wides vs. 4 wides (or whatever you'd like)?

wheaton4prez said...

Hey! Looks like there's a chance that this is going to happen sooner than I expected, if perhaps incrementally.

Anonymous, I don't think the QB coming from a spread offense offers an advantage individually. It's just that the spread maximizes the advantage a dual threat brings.

A dual threat QB in pro is easier to account for because there is less ground for defenders to cover, while staying in position to make a play on the ball.

Anonymous said...

wheaton4prez, I don't follow exactly. How does the spread maximizes the advantage? I guess it would quality personel for attacking downfield, where you would want a saftey. Rather than TE's or running backs who are not as much of a downfield threat?

Even in this example however its simply a tradeoff because your threats might not be as accomplished reciever but the bigger tE's/Rb's are better Biggger blockers forcing you to play with bigger stronger runstoppers, who inturn are less skilled in pass coverage.

And how is there less ground to cover in the pro(something to do with hashmarks)?

Anonymous said...


Regarding the spread debate and the NFL -- You might want to point out the utility of cost/benefit analysis in making decisions about offensive and defensive philosophy.

So much of the discussion about whether any particular strategy will "work" should be dependent on properly identifying the goal. Is the goal to win a championship or is it to enable a less-talented team to be more competitive?

A blitz happy defense may well get destroyed by the best team in the league. But it may well provide a better chance for an upset against a mediocre team. Randle-El may be the best choice to QB Indiana where broken plays may provide the best chance for a big play. Probably not for USC.

Some NFL teams may need a mobile QB to be effective and see the risk of injury as worthwhile. I doubt the Colts or Patriots are looking for ways to get their QBs more rushing attempts (other than kneeldowns).


wheaton4prez said...


Sorry for not being clear. I was meaning the pro-set formation rather than "the pros." Of course, the field is the same size in the pros. :)

I think Chris has already explained the advantages of the spread better than I can, in other posts. In general, by putting more receivers out toward the sidelines, you are forcing more defensive players to have to account for those areas of the field, away from where the QB is. In the pro-set, the offense is more bunched together. So, it's easier for a defender to be assigned to the QB and also remain in position to make a play against other runs/passes.

In short, the spread forces a defender to be more dedicated to the QB than they would need to be against a pro-set dual-threat QB.

Anonymous said...

How much greater is the injury risk, really? It seems to me that most of the recent NFL QB injuries, like Tom Brady's, came when they were standing in a traditional pocket.

As a runner, an NFL QB can use the slide rule to avoid injury. The rules protect QB's in so many ways that I think the conventional wisdom about injury risks needs to be re-examined.

(But I'm just a fan, not a coach at any level.)

Tom said...

I've begun to wonder myself if some coach and GM will see the light in the near future and start to implement more spread-to-run components in the future. With great QBs so hard to find and athletic guys who can play QB a bit becoming more and more common, why not use that money that some would spend on a franchise QB and spread it among 2-3 spread QBs and rotate them in and out like receivers. Granted, roster space is limited but most teams carry at least 2 QBs anyways and these players could double as receivers like Seneca Wallace or Pat White.

Fact is, QBs are getting hurt anyways and usually from blindside hits from pass rushers. At least this way, risk would be divvied up amongst several players and they wouldn't simply be sitting ducks for the DL. It seems ridiculous to me how so many teams throw gobs of money at QBs who obviously aren't upper echelon anyways.

Coach Hoover said...

I see the Pat White and the Wildcat as being a tremendous 4 Minute Offense this year as well as a great change of pace for the Dolphins. Pat White could start a new trend: the "closer / relief pitcher" in football.

Ted Seay said...

Chris: You realize, of course, that Homer Smith predicted the rise of the dual-threat QB years ago...