Wilson: “They got behind me so quick, I didn’t really see their faces.”
Jakeem Grant is lined up next to Albert Wilson for only a couple of seconds before the biggest play of this young Miami Dolphins season begins to unfold, but it’s as if the world stops long enough to allow these two Miami Dolphins receivers to have this conversation:
“I looked at Albert and I told him, ‘oh-oh,’ and then he was like, ‘Let’s go,’ “ Grant said.
End of the discussion.
Grant shifts to a new spot behind Ryan Tannehill, who is under center. Running back Frank Gore is behind the quarterback and to his right. And then center Daniel Kilgore snaps the ball to Tannehill who does a 360-degree turn to hand the ball to Gore.
Gore, running left, then flips the football to Wilson, who is reversing back right.
Did you miss Grant? The Oakland Raiders did.
Grant leaked out of the backfield as soon as the ball was snapped and no Oakland defender covered him. And now Wilson is about to throw his first NFL pass to a wide open receiver.
Worried about an overthrow, Albert?
“Ah, no man,” Wilson said. “I’m a baller, man. You got to do things like that. And so when I get one of those calls, I’m pretty much going to execute.”
The execution includes Grant catching the pass and then breaking two tackles by Oakland’s Reggie Nelson and Marcus Gilchrist to get in the end zone. The execution means Wilson has just thrown his first TD pass since high school, a 52-yard strike to Grant.
The execution is a dagger in the heart of the Raiders victory hopes.
Dolphins 28, Raiders 20.
The Dolphins pulled this trick play out of coach Adam Gase’s playbook on Sunday and it gave the home team its winning points. But the guile, chicanery, subterfuge, craftiness, whatever you want to call it was not over.
Less than five minutes later the Dolphins run an end around Jet Sweep kind of play that has Tannehill flip the ball to Wilson who gets a block from Frank Gore and takes off on a 74-yard scoring run.
The moment is a highlight reel moment before Grant, floating into the picture from the other side of the field, accompanies Wilson into the end zone. The two men high-five around the 5 yard line -- where it was already obvious no one was going to catch them.
“Oh man it was very cool,” Grant said of that celebration. “Man, it was another explosive play right there. Once that happened we just kept on rolling.”
Be honest, when was the last time you recall the Dolphins pulling out plays that caught the opponent unaware?
Well, the Wildcat package made Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots look bad for one day a decade ago. It even featured trickery beyond the trickery -- like passes to tight ends -- that helped the Dolphins roll to a division title in 2008.
That’s a long time ago.
So this new deception was welcome. This was needed. This was, well, fun.
And, no, I’m not going to tell you the Dolphins have stumbled upon a new offensive mindset that will feature circus plays every week.
But I will say this team has both the willingness (from coaches) and the means (speed and players knowing their assignments) that test the boundaries of an opponent’s preparation. The Dolphins are fine planting seeds of doubt in opponents.
And most importantly, the Dolphins are willing to pull out a victory using freaky plays in a game the other team pretty much dominated for three-and-a-half quarters.
That deserves celebration. And applause.
Let us see more.
Gase was weird after this game. He came into his postgame press confernce and acted as if the trick plays were nothing. It’s not that he was being humble. It’s that he wanted to change the subject.
“Maybe a little bit,” Gase said.
You know why? My guess is because there’s more where that came from.
I asked Gase how many more deceptive plays he’s got available on his play sheet.
“A lot,” he answered.
And none of this suggests the Dolphins, which used these plays to get to 3-0, can make a living doing this. But in close games, in important games and situations, a nice little handoff-reverse-double-reserve-pass for a touchdown can’t hurt.
I remind you the Philadelphia Eagles had a great season in 2017 and were obviously the NFL’s best team. I also remind you they used the Philly Special -- a trick play -- to help win the Super Bowl.
So even a purist struggling to embrace a Miami team that couldn’t run the football on Sunday and had trouble getting off the field defensively has to admit a touchdown on a trick play is just fine.
So are a couple of touchdowns on trick plays.
The genesis of these plays comes from Mike Martz. The former offensive coordinator and head coach of the St. Louis Rams during their Greatest Show on Turf days, had all these plays in his coaching tool box.
And he shared them with Gase, who was something of a mentee to the elder coach.
“It was just straight thievery,” Gase said of how he acquired the plays. “I mean we stole it. It’s an old Martz play. It’s just nobody watches his old stuff. They might now.
“We’ve got all kinds of stuff of his and we kind of talked about some stuff when he was [visiting the Dolphins during training camp] and what we could do because we were really trying to expand Albert and Jakeem’s packages and just keep growing them. We’ve got guys that can do a lot of different things. They can throw it, they can run it. We have done a couple of things already this year that really has worked to our benefit.”
And now that you know the history, you should understand why it works: Because Wilson and Grant on Sunday were cold blooded.
Wilson was moving right when he looked downfield and saw a wide open Grant. Did he start to think about it? Or worry about overthrowing or underthrowing?
“You got to make those plays, man,” Wilson said. “It’s plays like that that change the game and when they call it, you have to execute.”
And by execute Wilson doesn’t mean not mess it up. He means nail it.
“Always on the money,” he said.
What goes through his mind when it’s called?
“Touchdown,” Wilson said.
Grant, meanwhile, is so open down the field he might have a second or two to think about dropping the ball. Or running before he catches it.
That doesn’t happen, either.
“I knew we were going to score on it,” Grant said. “It was a great connection. It was a great connection during practice. It was money at practice every single time and I knew it was going to be money in the game.”
The Dolphins have been practicing these plays for weeks. No one will tell you their name because, as Gase explained, they have other plays they haven’t shown that build off these plays, and letting the names get out might suggest to defenses what’s possible the next time.
“We’ve been running it for a long time,” Grant said. “And coach Gase, that’s what he has about him, he’s got all kind of tricks up his sleeve.”
Bring it on.