Shanoff's WUC: Dolphins' Wildcat, Phils in 4

Today's Calls: Ronnie Brown vs. Braylon Edwards, Brad Lidge vs. Huston Street, LDS vs. LCS, Mark Ingram vs. Heisman voters, Kevin Durant vs. Plus-Minus, Rasheed Wallace vs. the '96 Bulls and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: The Wildcat still rules. ↵

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↵There has been plenty of talk that the Wildcat was a one-year wonder -- a fad. That NFL defensive coordinators had "solved" it. More teams have adopted a couple of Wildcat-ish plays, but it hasn't been a staple ... except in Miami, naturally. ↵

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↵Nearly as stunning as the Dolphins' debut of the formation a year ago was -- a year later -- the reaffirmation of its strategic and tactical value, as the Dolphins deployed it to steamroll the Jets. ↵

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↵That creates a bookend of two defensive geniuses foiled by the Wildcat: Bill Belichick in September 2008 and, last night, Rex Ryan -- the hottest defensive mind in the league. Ryan even knew it was coming -- and still couldn't stop it. ↵

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↵The Dolphins got 110 yards out of the Wildcat, and it had a key role in three Dolphins TD drives -- including the game-winning TD with just seconds to play in the game. Of the 13-play, 70-yard final drive, the 'Cat accounted for 25 yards on four plays. On 3rd-and-goal at the 2-yard-line with 10 seconds to go, the Wildcat play call was obvious -- and the Jets still couldn't stop it. ↵

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↵Ryan can insist that his defense simply didn't play well (postgame, he continued to deride the Wildcat a "gimmick") -- but that would diminish the role of the Wildcat in forcing itself on his previously impervious D. ↵

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↵The question remains: Why haven't other teams -- particularly the bad teams, with nothing to lose -- adopted the Wildcat more aggressively? ↵

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↵Braylon Edwards: Solid debut. Don't blame Braylon because the Jets' D couldn't stop the Wildcat. The new WR had a solid debut, with five catches, including one for a TD. N.Y.'s passing game would have been terrible -- rather than simply mediocre -- without him. ↵

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↵Phillies advance past Rockies: I don't know what was more impressive -- Philly's 2-out, 3-run rally in the top of the 9th or Brad Lidge closing out the game (and the series) in the bottom of the 9th without any of his standard psychodrama. ↵

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↵So: What's the point of the LDS round? This was the fourth season in a row that no series in the LDS extended all the way to five games. This feels less like a "round" and more like a formality. I'm all for fast series -- compare the LDS to the interminable first round of the NBA playoffs -- but it's a fine line between brief and lame. Fortunately, these LDS had a couple of dramatic game endings -- that helps. ↵

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↵Heisman Watch: Mark Ingram. He is the best RB in the nation and the pivotal player for Alabama. Why isn't he getting more love as a contender? It's gotten to the point where most voters seem to have forgotten it's not just an award for QBs. ↵

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↵CFB Must-Read: Brian Cook's Week in Schadenfreude, starring ... Mark Richt, who doesn't care for your criticism. ↵

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↵Kevin Durant vs. Plus-Minus: Instead of being defiantly ignorant, maybe Durant finally figured out what "plus/minus" -- perhaps THE most meaningful stat in basketball -- means. Last night, he had 30 in a Thunder win, including a plus-24 plus/minus. Keep it up, KD. ↵

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↵SN NBA Countdown: No. 16 Sixers. Wow, Shoals is NOT a fan of Elton Brand -- at least on this team of athletic positionless youngsters. ↵

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↵CBB: Decade's most defining moment? Here's DeCourcy's list, by year. For me, it had to be George Mason making the Final Four, which redefined the label "Cinderella" in the sport that invented it. (Runner-up: Florida's stars agreeing to return, setting up the decade's only back-to-back champ.) ↵

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↵NFL Coaching Hot Seats: Fox insists he isn't on one. Zorn's players think he shouldn't be on one. And Del Rio should be on one. ↵

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↵Apology Watch: Dre Bly is a moron -- given his post-game reaction to his showboating (he was unrepentant), I think his next-day apology was forced and insincere, done more for appearances than actual remorse. He's sorry alright: Sorry you couldn't handle his awesome. ↵

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↵Business: Al Sharpton's got a point, but he didn't need to say anything -- the league understands the PR nightmare if it lets Rush become a team owner. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "Me personally, I think we can get that Bulls record. You know we have the talent for it. We have the will for it and ... I think we have the defense for it." -- Rasheed Wallace, on the Celtics' chances of winning 72 games. (Yeah: Sure.) ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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