- The Washington Times - Friday, October 10, 2008

POINT COUNTERPOINT

Each Friday, columnist Dan Daly and Redskins beat writer Ryan O’Halloran debate a football issue. This week: Have the Miami Dolphins started a trend with their single-wing formation featuring Ronnie Brown at quarterback?

Dan Daly: I hope it sticks around a while because I love that old-time stuff - like Doug Flutie drop-kicking an extra point. Any offense can work if you’ve got the right personnel for it, and Ronnie Brown seems to have some of the skills required of a tailback. He can throw a little. I’d like to see the Dolphins take the next step and figure out a way to get Tim Tebow. Now there’s a guy who could run a single wing.

Ryan O’Halloran: I think it’s cool because it’s outside the box. So often in the NFL, you see offenses that have very little originality, and it’s the same stuff every week with only a few variations. That’s why Miami should be applauded … and that’s why other teams would be stupid not to copy the formation if it fits their personnel. I’m guessing there are a whole bunch of college quarterbacks who are intrigued by the Wildcat formation and a whole lot of NFL running backs who are asking their coaches to let them throw downfield.

DD: It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes defensive coordinators to come up with ways of stopping it. Many of them, I get the impression, have little awareness of how football was played in the old days and are probably scratching their heads. With its unbalanced line and shotgun snap, the single wing must seem like the Offense From Another Planet. It’ll be interesting, too, to see if other teams start experimenting with the formation. I’ve got to believe it can be effective in goal-line and short-yardage situations. The problem with it, if you run it a lot, is that your tailback gets beat up - much more than the quarterback does in the T - because he’s as much a runner as a passer.



RO: You’re right that it can be effective in small doses because the first time a running back gets high-lowed and leaves the game or a quarterback has to become a blocker downfield and gets dinged, coordinators will have second thoughts. But I love the formation inside the 15-yard line. By spreading the formation, it gives a guy like Brown options to run or pass.

WEEKEND PICKS

REDSKINS THIS WEEK

RAMS (0-4) at REDSKINS (4-1)

Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: Chs. 5, 45

Line: Redskins by 13 1/2

Outlook: A classic “trap” game for the Redskins, who are coming off big wins at Dallas and Philadelphia. But don’t expect them to look ahead because they don’t have another division game until November. The Rams will play hard for interim coach Jim Haslett, but they simply don’t have the personnel.

The pick: Redskins 44-20

GAME OF THE WEEK

PATRIOTS (3-1) at CHARGERS (2-3)

Sunday, 8:15 p.m.

TV: ChS. 4, 11

Line: Chargers by 5 1/2

Outlook: A puzzling point spread considering the Pats have bounced San Diego from the last two postseasons. New England stayed on the West Coast after beating the 49ers so travel isn’t an issue. The Chargers are in deep trouble if they fall to 2-4 and continue to be battered defensively.

The pick: Patriots 30-23

UPSET WATCH

COWBOYS (4-1) at CARDINALS (3-2)

Sunday, 4:15 p.m.

Line: Cowboys by 5 1/2

Outlook: A great team would have rebounded from a home loss by flexing its muscles against an inferior opponent. Instead the Cowboys, after losing to Washington, struggled before pulling away from the Bengals. Arizona pulls the upset because it can pass, and Dallas can’t stop the pass.

The pick: Cardinals 37-34

THIS WEEK’S LOCK

GIANTS (4-0) at BROWNS (1-3)

Monday, 8:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN

Line: Giants by 7

Outlook: Cleveland is coming off a win and its bye so the Browns will be fired up for a rare Monday night appearance. But the Giants are rolling right now. The Giants are first in offense (431 yards per game) and third in defense (236 yards per game), moving them into the NFC East favorite role.

The pick: Giants 24-10

FRIDAY’S FIVE

Most unlikely individual league leaders through five weeks:

1. Brett Favre (passer rating) — Sure, he still has a strong arm, but he got to the Jets in August and had to pick up a new system. Yet he has a 110.8 rating.

2. Michael Turner (rushing yards) — All we knew about Turner before this year was that he was LaDainian Tomlinson’s backup in San Diego. Now the Falcons back has 543 yards.

3. Michael Griffin and Cortland Finnegan (interceptions) — Both players have four picks, and both play for Tennessee. Maybe that’s why the Titans are 5-0.

4. John Abraham (sacks) — The Falcons defensive end had 13 sacks … seven years ago. Through five games this year, he already has seven.

5. Reggie Bush (receptions) — He has 38 catches, which is 16 more than the next running back. But this is surprising only because it shows how quickly the Saints have given up on him as a runner.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

6-7 Record for teams that had better net punting averages. Detroit, Kansas City, San Diego, Buffalo, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia had better averages but lost their games. (Tennessee and Baltimore had identical 39-yard averages.)

INSIDE THE AFC

• Despite an 0-4 record, Texans owner Bob McNair has confidence in coach Gary Kubiak and his staff. Indianapolis rallied from a 17-point deficit in the last five minutes - the largest for a non-overtime NFL game. “I’m focusing on where we are right now and what we’re doing, and I’d say our coaching staff is doing a fine job,” McNair said. “The players were prepared. They executed well. They played hard. What could anybody else do?”

• One reason why Tennessee is 5-0 - it hasn’t allowed any sacks in the last three games. And that’s with veteran Kerry Collins at quarterback.

• Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis should show some Clinton Portis game film to Chris Perry. Portis has yet to fumble in a league-leading 115 carries; Perry already has five fumbles in 85 rushes.

• Things remain bizarre in Oakland, where quarterback JaMarcus Russell said former coach Lane Kiffin called him Monday night to talk about the New Orleans Saints defense. “He just called and talked to me about their defense, things he would do if he was here,” Russell told the San Jose Mercury News. “So, really, nothing has changed. … He has got a lot of time on his hands, so he would pay attention to the defense I would have to go up against. He leaves me a text message or a voice mail here or there.”

• Miami’s Wildcat formation, which features running back Ronnie Brown at quarterback, has been used 12 times for an average gain of 4.3 yards. The formation was hatched by quarterbacks coach David Lee, who was on the Arkansas staff last year, when Darren McFadden was used the same way.

INSIDE THE NFC

• Among the things falling apart in Green Bay is the rush defense. The Packers have allowed 100-yard runners in the last three games, all defeats. Last year, only three backs all season reached 100 yards.

• District native and former Maryland star Vernon Davis has only five catches for the 49ers. Play caller Mike Martz has never used tight ends in his passing game, but coach Mike Nolan defended the use of Davis. Nolan, however, was critical of Davis’ route running. “He has a responsibility to himself to run the correct routes,” Nolan said. cYou get the ball that way better, but by no stretch would I say he’s a bust. Like I said, he’s good at two out of the three [aspects — run blocking, pass protection].”

• The season is over for another former Terps player. Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson is out after undergoing surgery for dislocated left toes. Little brother Erin, a Minnesota rookie, missed practice Wednesday with a concussion.

• Philadelphia fans may be getting more than fed up with Andy Reid. After his quotes from Monday’s press conference were posted on the Web, one fan wrote: “This sounds like a recording. No emotion. No passion. No wonder the players have stopped listening to him!” The 2-3 Eagles face a must-win at San Francisco.

• Detroit has been outscored in the first quarter this year 38-0.

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