Clay A. Smith
"Trap Game"- an ostensibly winnable contest, usually following a physically and or emotionally taxing win, that has all the makings of a potential upset. The Saints are riding high after their 48-27 drubbing of the prematurely anointed New York Giants in the Super Dome this past Sunday. Suddenly, the NFL's perennial cellar dwellers have become marked men, with teams circling the Saints on their calendars instead of casually glancing over them.
Now media darlings, New Orleans is taking their number one ranked offense (averaging 38.4 points a game) and their ninth ranked defense (fifth against the run) into "Wild Cat" country. However, just as the teams before them, New Orleans will soon find out that the Dolphins' running game is a different animal altogether.
The architects of the Wild Cat offense, Miami has made the unconventional a staple in their overall offensive attack. Widely viewed as a "gimmick", most teams have adopted some variation of the Wild Cat, and it'd been reported that in preparation for Sunday's match up, the Saints have used Reggie Bush on their scout team to recreate it. But nobody does it like the boys from South Beach and they have the numbers to back it up.
Miami is the number one rushing team in the NFL (177 ypg) and held their own against some of the league's top tier teams. If the rule is "you're only as good as your record," than the 2-3 Dolphins are the exception. Of their three losses, which include at Atlanta , at home against Indianapolis , and at San Diego, only the under achieving Chargers have a losing record. Despite losing a close one to the undefeated Colts (27-23), the Dolphins used their ability to run the ball and stop the run to dominate time of possession. For the game, the Colts had the ball for less than a full quarter.
Sure Miami has their share of problems. They're not 2-3 for nothing. The Dolphins aren't very good against the pass (ranked 26th), which plays directly into the hands of Saints' head coach Sean Payton. And the inception of the Wild Cat in and of itself is symptomatic of Miami's inefficiency in their passing game. Still, at tenth in the league the Dolphin's the "D" is among the league's best when it comes to stopping the run (behind #1Arizona and #2 Pittsburgh). But what should be even more unsettling for the "Black and Gold" is the fact that they'll be visiting a Miami team that has had an entire week to game plan for them. If you don't think that that's a big deal, just ask the Giants. They know all about that.