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Houston Texans

Texans game plan for "Wildcat"


Coach Gary Kubiak will look to defend against Miami's single-wing "Wildcat" formation.

The Texans don't have to peek into the Dolphins' playbook to know one call coach Tony Sparano will be making on Sunday. Sparano's version of the single-wing "Wildcat" formation has stunned Miami's last two opponents and helped the first-year head coach earn consecutive victories.

There is nothing new about the single-wing offense. In fact, Pop Warner invented the formation in 1907, calling for a shotgun snap to the running back, who would run, hand off or pass the ball behind the offensive line.

The formation used by the 2-2 Dolphins has featured running back Ronnie Brown lining up for a direct snap with quarterback Chad Pennington split out as a possible receiver and running back Ricky Williams going in motion from left to right. The play was designed to trick defenses rather than overpower them, and it's been doing just that.

"You've got to be really sharp and diagnose and identify formations and those types of things," coach Gary Kubiak said. "Normally, you've got one guy leading the defensive group, but you've got to have 11 guys watching how they break the huddle, who comes out and what's going on, so confusion is an issue."

In wins over New England and San Diego, the Dolphins scored five of their seven touchdowns from the "Wildcat" formation. Against the Chargers, Brown gained 49 of his 125 rushing yards on 11 direct snaps, including the game's deciding touchdown.

"I'm not surprised it works because he's a heck of a football player," Kubiak said of Brown. "He looks like he's totally healthy and he's had some nicks through the past couple of years, but man, he looks really good. Ricky looks really good. It's a scary thing what it (the "Wildcat") did to New England and San Diego, and now it's our turn."

{QUOTE}The Texans don't want to be the next victim. That's why they are drawing up a new set of defensive schemes.

"There are a lot of good things we can do," safety Will Demps said. "For example, there are other teams, New England and San Diego, they kind of showed us some good things for us to kind of attack it. I'm not going to give out the total keys of how to stop it, but we have a good plan going into it."

That plan probably will include shutting down Brown, who is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. With the tandem of Brown and Williams, Miami is gaining 126 yards rushing per game, which is good enough for 10th in the league.

"They are doing it well because they have two running backs that are real smart and can run the ball real hard," Demps said. "And they understand how to run that offense."

Kubiak also is game planning for Sparano to try to stay a step ahead of the Texans and throw a wrinkle or two into the formation.

"I'm sure we're going to see something that we haven't seen in the last couple of weeks," Kubiak said. "It looks like they're growing with it. There's something new every week. So we're going to have to really do a good job adjusting with it."

Variations of the single wing could include using Pennington as a receiver or getting Williams more involved. Regardless, the Texans are going to get ready for every form of trickeration coming their way.

"I don't think every week they show everything of their offense," Demps said. "Maybe they are going to show us something new this week with Chad Pennington on the outside as a receiver and maybe throw a flea flicker pass that way.

"You always have your hands full and you have to prepare yourself for every play that they can come at you with."

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