This has to be the big game because it's the game for which the Jaguars spent much of last spring's OTA's preparing.
Yeah, they did. I stood there on the sideline day after day and watched the Jaguars defense practice against the "Wildcat" formation, as though the whole league was about to adopt the "Wildcat" as its base offense. It was happening around the league. Coaches were living in fear of it. Media and fans were charmed by it. Three-quarters of a season later, however, the "Wildcat" fad appears to be fading.
The hype began last year when the Dolphins featured it and used it to ravage the Patriots in a high-profile game. It was barely mentioned, however, that Baltimore blew it up twice, both times in Miami and the second time in the playoffs.
Hey, the media had something novel about which it could report and it trumpeted, diagrammed, dissected and analyzed the "Wildcat" ad nauseum. The revolutionary offensive formation was such a hit with fans and media alike that it literally, and I do mean literally, made Pat White the star of last February's scouting combine.
It was written over and over that White would take the "Wildcat" to new heights. Through 12 games, however, White has thrown but three passes, completing none of them, and has 50 yards rushing on 14 tries. He has yet to catch a pass.
Jack Del Rio, doing his due diligence as a head coach, visited two college programs to acquire information about the "Wildcat." Clearly, based on the time the Jaguars spent on the "Wildcat" in OTAs, Del Rio possessed respect and intrigue for it.
"I made a few trips this past spring because I wanted to learn it and be prepared to handle it. It hasn't become as wide spread," Del Rio said this week.
Wide spread? I've asked several coaches, players and administrative people if they can remember a "Wildcat" play being run against the Jaguars this year. Most of those I asked said no. One guy said Kansas City used it. There you go.
It's now become clear the "Wildcat's" success in Miami wasn't so much about its design as it was about Ronnie Brown, who was lost for the season a few weeks ago. Since then, Miami's use of the "Wildcat" has withered. They didn't use it once last week in defeating the Patriots, the same Patriots they ravaged with the "Wildcat" a year ago.
"It's something we expect to see. Losing a Ronnie Brown doesn't help, but Ricky (Williams) can run it," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars should certainly be prepared for it, should Williams run the "Wildcat."
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Dolphins.
* **Just win, baby—**An "Ask Vic" reader requested that I make this number one. It's a good suggestion because we've reached the point in the season that it doesn't matter how you win, just win. *
Smack 'em in the mouth—This is per the request of my radio buddy Jeff Lageman. I, too, think smacking them in the mouth, so to speak, is a good idea. *
Run the ball—This is my favorite. Number four vs. number seven: May the best running team win. *
Stop the run—This is another one of my favorites, especially in December. May the best run-defense win. *
Win at quarterback—Unfortunately, you can't run the ball on every play; you have to pass sometimes, too. When that happens, David Garrard must outperform Chad Henne, as a veteran quarterback should outperform a first-year starter at the crunch-time point in the season. *
Establish play-action—The Dolphins like to walk a safety up to the line to become that eighth man in the box. *
Know what this means—This is the big game. This is more important than any remaining game on the Jaguars schedule. *
Use the tight end—Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter loves the tight end and it would seem Garrard does, too. *
Respect Henne's arm—He's got a cannon and he can reach spots on the field most quarterbacks can't. Don't quit on coverage. *
Live in the moment—There must be no thoughts of the Colts game.