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News » Dolphins look to reverse running game at Denver


Dolphins look to reverse running game at Denver


Dolphins look to reverse running game at Denver
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) - An old golfing buddy of Dan Henning once gave him a simple but unorthodox tip that has stayed with the Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator: swing as hard as you can.


And when it comes to the Dolphins' struggling running game, Henning has been hammering away all season.

Remember the Wildcat?

The deceptive, single-wing formation that snaps the ball directly to the running back has been used sparingly of late, and without it, Miami's running game has been inept. But Henning said Thursday he won't be afraid to use the Wildcat and other tricks to get the ground game going when the team plays Sunday at Denver, which ranks 30th against the run.

"We are doing whatever it takes," Henning said. "Design wise, study wise, practice wise and motivationally wise to try and get (the running game) done."

Lately, though, almost everything has missed.

Miami started the Wildcat in Week 3 against New England, turning quarterback Chad Pennington into a wideout, with Brown taking a direct snap. The Dolphins scored four touchdowns in the scheme to upset the Patriots.

But since then, the use of the formation has slowly dwindled. And defenses, although not always stopping the Wildcat, have started to adjust to the tricks.

"It does seem kind of gimmicky," offensive tackle Vernon Carey said.

Miami has gained only 73 yards rushing per game this year. And it's been four weeks since either Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams have had a 100-yard game.

The team ran the Wildcat just six times for 35 yards against Buffalo, including new wrinkles that snapped the ball to Williams. But neither have been able to breakout for big gains, no matter what the formation.

Changing that trend is at the top of the to-do-list against Denver.

"We're going to try this week," center Samson Satele said. "We gotta. We gotta. We gotta make them get over 100. At least one of them. We gotta."

The one-two punch of Brown and Williams was supposed to be the Dolphins strength this season. But the duo has struggled to gain traction, with neither getting the 20-plus carries per game they have seen throughout their careers. Miami ranks 21st in yards rushing.

The running game also has been limited, in part, because opponents have been playing eight players up or near the line of scrimmage to force Miami to throw - and the Dolphins have been surprisingly efficient in the passing game.

Pennington was 22-for-30 for 314 yards with no interceptions Sunday against Buffalo, earning AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. And Ted Ginn Jr. had a career-high 175 yards receiving in the game.

Although frustrated with few carries, Brown doesn't mind if it translates wins. Still, he admits he's had trouble adjusting to his new role.

"I think I need to work on some things," Brown said. "But for the most part it's just the way that people have been defending us. We haven't been able to run like we wanted to.

"The only good thing about that is it shows what we're capable of doing in the passing game. Ted Ginn had a good game. I think that was a good sign and hopefully we can get the running game on the right track."

And that might mean digging deep in the playbook against Denver.

The Dolphins haven't been afraid to use a variety of formations this season. And even in the Wildcat, Miami has run more than a dozen plays, with both Williams and Brown taking direct snaps.

Of course, rushing between the tackles is still Miami's preferred method. But if it doesn't work, Henning said he won't be afraid to do something unconventional.

"We are swinging as hard as we can," Henning said.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 30, 2008

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Will Allen Name: Will Allen
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