- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 22, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS | As the game clips on his Redskin Park office computer prove, Jim Zorn has performed his due diligence on the Wildcat formation.

Zorn’s conclusion? Don’t expect the Washington Redskins to expand their catalog of gadget plays. At least not on a regular basis.

Receiver Antwaan Randle El’s skills as a college quarterback on trick plays will remain part of the system, but Zorn won’t join the Wildcat movement. Still, the formation that the Miami Dolphins made trendy has some teams holding versatile offensive players at the combine in a different regard.

“If you use it, is it just a novelty or are you committed to it like the Dolphins, who have taken it to a higher degree?” Zorn said. “I’m not going to run it to look up and say, ‘Hey, we got it! Check this out! We’re smart, too!’ ”

Brought from the University of Arkansas to the Dolphins by quarterbacks coach David Lee, Miami debuted the Wildcat in Week 3 at New England. With Ronnie Brown serving as quarterback in the shotgun and fellow running back Ricky Williams at his side, Brown led the Dolphins to a 38-13 win. Miami gained 461 yards and Brown rushed 17 times for 113 yards and four touchdowns - two coming out of the Wildcat.

Brown had the option of running, handing off or passing on each play, and a phenomenon was born. Cleveland, the New York Jets, San Francisco, Kansas City and Oakland were among the many teams that dabbled with the Wildcat.

“I wish I had a dollar for every person who ran it,” Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. “I was surprised only because we knew, when we rolled it out during the New England week, we were taking a chance one way or the other. We also knew that this might be a two-play deal. We might go out there for two plays, and if it backfires or it doesn’t give us the look that we wanted, maybe we don’t see it anymore.”

Although Miami had success (Brown averaged 5.7 yards a carry from the formation), an inconsistency caught Zorn’s attention.

“Most teams want to try it and want to give it a go and you get a [big] play if they don’t know what’s coming and they’ve never defended it,” he said. “The next time you run it, it’s a 2-yard gain and for as much work as you’ve had to do [in practice] to get your running back to catch the direct snap, to fake an option and run - you could have just run [a regular play].”

Despite Zorn’s lack of interest in the Wildcat, several teams have come to the combine intrigued by versatile players like West Virginia’s Pat White. The three-time All-Big East quarterback isn’t a prototypical pocket passer, but he can specialize within a certain package of plays.

“Obviously, Pat White is an incredible athlete,” Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “I think [the Wildcat] will continue to bring players to the forefront that have some slash-ability where they can also throw the ball. … The Wildcat situation is something that a lot of us are trying to figure out what’s the best way to defend it, as well as what’s the best way to use it.”

The team White goes to - he’s a projected third- or fourth-round pick - will add a weapon, but it’s unlikely a team will run the Wildcat as much as Miami does.

“It’s going to be a part of our personality,” Sparano said. “I think our players like it, and I think our coaches feel like there’s some advantages there. There’s some things that we had to go back and look at and re-evaluate how to do it better. There was a lot left on the bone that we didn’t roll out there during the season for one reason or another. This offseason gives us a chance to push the envelope a little bit more.”

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