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Sparano has big plans in Oakland, but doesn’t want to say “Wildcat”

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Tony Sparano was the head coach who showed the NFL how successful the Wildcat offense can be with the Dolphins, then was the offensive coordinator who showed the NFL how dismal a failure the Wildcat offense can be with the Jets. Now Sparano is the assistant head coach and offensive line coach of the Raiders, and he doesn’t want to talk about the Wildcat.

Sparano talked on Wednesday about how excited he is about what the Raiders’ offense can do with running back Darren McFadden. Specifically, Sparano noted that when he was the head coach of the Dolphins, his quarterbacks coach was David Lee — who was the offensive coordinator at Arkansas when the Razorbacks used to use McFadden in the Wildcat. But Sparano stopped short of saying he thinks that’s what the Raiders will do this year.

“I’ve known of McFadden for a long time,” Sparano told reporters. “My quarterback coach at the time in Miami was a fella by the name of David Lee. And David Lee was at the time the coordinator at Arkansas when they were out there and they were running McFadden and Felix [Jones] and that group of guys, doing some different things with them. I don’t want to say that word, you’ll bring it up soon enough. They were doing some different things with him obviously, I got a chance to watch him and study him and get a chance to learn.”

It’s not surprising that Sparano doesn’t want to use the word “Wildcat.” After the disaster that was the Jets trading for Tim Tebow last year, allegedly because he could run the Wildcat in Sparano’s offense, Sparano probably views the Wildcat as a millstone around his neck.

But before the Wildcat became a millstone in New York, it was cited as an example of the creative way that Sparano got the most out of his offense in Miami. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Sparano help the Raiders draw up some plays in which McFadden takes the snap. Just as long as it’s clear that McFadden is more like Ronnie Brown than Tim Tebow.

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67 Responses to “Sparano has big plans in Oakland, but doesn’t want to say “Wildcat””
  1. hehateme2 says: Feb 14, 2013 9:41 AM

    It’s hard to blame that hot mess going on in NJ all on Sparano.

    Let’s see how he does working with some talent.

  2. coltzfan166 says: Feb 14, 2013 9:43 AM

    Terrelle Pryor is gonna be the starting QB, perhaps?

  3. ilivincin says: Feb 14, 2013 9:44 AM

    Why run a Wildcat when you have a QB that runs a 4.3 40? Give him a chance. As a Bengals fan, thank you for taking Carson Palmer out of retirement!

  4. ukraiders says: Feb 14, 2013 9:49 AM

    just kill the wildcat already. All it is, is a read option using a running back. Just use Terrelle Pryor. He better just focus on OL and let Olsen call the plays.

  5. nflofficeadmin says: Feb 14, 2013 9:50 AM

    You don’t need any gimmicks. Just the power running game.

  6. jjpt4540 says: Feb 14, 2013 9:51 AM

    He has big player everywhere he goes and then get fired.

  7. superputman says: Feb 14, 2013 9:52 AM

    I don’t see this ending well for Oakland fans.

  8. sportsmeccabi says: Feb 14, 2013 9:52 AM

    Sometimes it’s easy to forget what a monster McFadden was in college.
    He almost single handedly took down LSU.

  9. sod61 says: Feb 14, 2013 9:52 AM

    Thanks for this article this morning, I needed a good laugh to start the day.

  10. mogogo1 says: Feb 14, 2013 9:54 AM

    Exciting offense when it’s going well and it’s fun to see teams trying something different. But I do find it amusing how quickly teams dive into “the next big thing.” And it seems the teams quickest to jump are usually the ones that never mastered “the last big thing.”

  11. nyjad says: Feb 14, 2013 9:54 AM

    Let’s clear this up now. Fistpumps Sparano is a meathead who doesn’t jack about the wildcat. David Lee is the guy who installed and ran it for him. It was a total disaster in NY with meathead in charge.

  12. maniakalol says: Feb 14, 2013 10:00 AM

    Be like Ronnie Brown as in run sideways and fall down if you make it back to the line of scrimmage?

  13. bigbluenationdb says: Feb 14, 2013 10:11 AM

    This guy is a joke as an offensive coordinator. How does he keep getting jobs. The Wildcat is a thing of the past. From watching this guy call plays in Miami and NY he was terrible.

    He was only good in Dallas because of Parcells and Garrett.

  14. gibbyfan says: Feb 14, 2013 10:13 AM

    No matter what is done it probably won’t matter for another couple of years or so. AL Davis effectively poisoned the organization –recovery is going to take some time–even the 49 er management would not have been able to fix things right away –the mess can be summed up very simply –up against the cap with consistently horrible performance –those two things should be mutually exclusive to some extent—just have to bide our time for a couple more years and hope Reg gets it right—

  15. raiderapologist says: Feb 14, 2013 10:16 AM

    Are they going to have Saunders as the passing game coordinator, Sparano as the running game coordinator, and Olson as the offensive coordinator? Sounds like a cluster to me. After watching that mess last year, it seems to me they should just focus on the basics. Pass completions, positive runs, scoring, stuff like that.

  16. marima07 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:24 AM

    I still can’t fathom how Tony Sparano was able to get another coaching job in the NFL.

  17. desertrace21 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:32 AM

    McFadden is nothing like Tebow. McFadden is a much more accurate passer.

    TP6 and DMC with the read option might be the creative way to get this offense going.. Would be nice to see some focus on the defense. The offense put up enough points to be competitive in over half of their losses.

  18. tooz72 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:34 AM

    39 years i’ve been a fan but if Pryor starts, i’ll be watching college football only

  19. raiderlyfe510 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:36 AM

    Dennis Allen should have been fired for installing a system that McFadden-the most dangerous RB in the NFL, was historically ineffective in because he believes in the Zone blocking scheme. The whole purpose of a running scheme is to get production, and we already had a system in place that McFadden was tearing up the league in….It was a complete waste of a season. There was absolutely nothing gained, nothing to build on from last season. If any coach should have been fired after one year it was Dennis Allen.

    I like Sparano as a running game coordinator, even though Bob Wylie- the O line coach who has proven to know how to use McFadden should have been given the job. So Im lightweight excited. If Sparano gets McFadden going then its instant offense.

  20. simmsmatic says: Feb 14, 2013 10:41 AM

    Just stop it. You’re wildcat had it’s glory days. It’s over now. Do not ruin Terrelle Pryor bringing that Wildcat mix to Oakland.

    Believe it or not, Terrelle Pryor has the chance to be a successful NFL QB.

    He’s mobile, 6’6, 230 pounds, and is fairly accurate. He’s what the Raiders were praying JeMarcus Russell was going to be.

    I’m not saying we have the new Cam Newton or Colin Kaepernick, but give Terrelle Pryor 2 years of experience in a Zone-Read Offense just like the Redskins or 49ers. And you will have a respectable offense.

    If Darren McFadden can stay healthy; Terrelle Pryor, Mike Goodson, and Darren McFadden can make some noise.

    Not to mention with all of the Ferrari fast receivers like Heyward-Bey and Ford, the play action that the pistol brings could make the Raiders a respectable team.

  21. dvnelson72 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:46 AM

    Sporano was dragged kicking and screaming into the wildcat era.

    The dolphins started with a 4 game losing streak during Sporano’s first season in Miami.

    The story goes that on the plane ride home the coaches convinced him to let them try something different.

    It worked for a while, so he decided to overuse it and rely on it.

    Now, he’s riding it to the grave like he invented and ran the damn offense.

  22. brassknuckles47 says: Feb 14, 2013 11:01 AM

    Sparano: IN
    Wildcat: In
    Wildcat: OUT
    Sparano: OUT

  23. thraiderskin says: Feb 14, 2013 11:14 AM

    This has got to be a joke… Come on a Raiders, you can’t think Sparano will help the team.

  24. mogogo1 says: Feb 14, 2013 11:17 AM

    So, they’re going to give Pryor a shot AND they’re also going to go with the Wildcat? How many gimmicks does a single team need? I like the idea of one or the other as a change of pace, but you’ve only got so much time to perfect plays and prepare. I’m thinking of all the time Sparano obviously wasted with the Jets last year putting in plays for Tebow that never got used. If they’re going to put all this stuff in for Pryor and McFadden, they better be committed to actually utilizing them.

  25. EJ says: Feb 14, 2013 11:34 AM

    If Sparano really wants to achieve greatness in Oakland, he needs to start Pryor over Palmer. Imagine the plays that could be drawn up with a Quarterback that has the ability to get outside the pocket and run? I believe with a very good pre-season/training camp Terelle Pryor can be the QB they need now, instead of the QB of the future. Al Davis would have paid millions to see the speed that would be on the field with that Offense. Do it up Sparano!

  26. rudy5618 says: Feb 14, 2013 11:39 AM

    The thing about the Wildcat is that it is suppose to be a surprise attack. Rex Ryan spent so much time boasting about how successful it would be that teams put the time into preparing for it every week. To make matters worse Sparano only ran one Wildcat play with Tebow which was him taking a direct snap and running forward behind a poor offensive line. And, it was never at the right time of the game in a short yardage 2nd and 2 type situation always 2nd and 12 situations. It was all too predictable when you are suppose to be trying to catch a defense off guard. If you are going to run the Wildcat you have to make it look like any other play and it would work best if it is with a full time QB that runs or a QB that at the last second clears out to the WR position and lets the RB take the snap.

  27. cmonelisha says: Feb 14, 2013 11:39 AM

    im fully convicned now sparano is a one trick pony kind of coordinator

  28. bowlax says: Feb 14, 2013 11:47 AM

    How about being accurate in your article? Sparano didn’t come up with the wildcat in Miami period! That was entirely down to Dan Henning. In fact once Henning was gone from Miami the wildcat failed spectacularly every time Sparano tried to use it. For the most part because the O line – Sparano’s ahem area of expertise – was rank! I like many others am astonished that Sparano has got yet another chance in the NFL. I like to be environmentally aware but this takes recycling a step to far!

  29. robonious says: Feb 14, 2013 11:49 AM

    Fist pumps for all. Well for all the other three teams in the AFC west. Sparano is a buffoon. And Pryor is terrible. Good luck with that.

  30. rolltide510 says: Feb 14, 2013 12:05 PM

    As somebody who remembers McFadden as the original Wildcat in college, I’m pretty sure he’s at least as good a passer as Pryor. Which says more about Pryor then McFadden, mind you.

  31. shmendal says: Feb 14, 2013 12:06 PM

    Just coach the offensive line and stop trying to be cute…

  32. cnyphinfan says: Feb 14, 2013 12:09 PM

    Sparano has the creative genius of a gnat. He has come up with nothing new except for various ways to celebrate a FG! Now there was some talent! This has already been explained but the Wildcat did not come from him and he never knew how to utilize it properly.

    I pity the Raiders for giving him a job – I hope he stays out of the gameplanning and focuses on getting 5 guys playing together on the offensive line.

  33. torturedraiderfan says: Feb 14, 2013 12:20 PM

    If Sparano shows some imagination and mixes up the play calling, the Raiders offense should improve (remember the bar is already set pretty low after last year). I don’t think it matters if Pryor or Palmer is the QB. Using McFadden in a way that fits his running style and isn’t so predicable is the key. Palmer wasn’t the real problem last year. The problem was an offensive line that didn’t have a clue how to run the zone blocking scheme and an OC that had absoluetly no idea how to mix up his plays.

  34. chromeraider says: Feb 14, 2013 12:22 PM

    What have we got to lose. We’ve been patient for so long we have some of the fastest guys on offense so the wildcat could be a threat if our o line is good enough. Just as long as we have Janikowski cause he’s been our best player for years.

  35. jc327 says: Feb 14, 2013 12:25 PM

    Isn’t it time to stop giving Sparano credit for the Wildcat? That came from QB coach David Lee. It was the only good thing he did in Miami, too.

  36. dirtdawg54 says: Feb 14, 2013 12:26 PM

    Yeah, that Wildcat offence was so good Sparano’s Dolphins were 21st, 15th, 30th and 20th in points scored in his four years as Head Coach.

  37. zenrooster says: Feb 14, 2013 12:32 PM

    He always has big plans, they never materialize.

  38. christopher525 says: Feb 14, 2013 12:35 PM

    I don’t want to say wildcat, I’ll just say it’s something we’re working on called the Feral Feline…

  39. slickster35 says: Feb 14, 2013 12:37 PM

    Thank god this dysfunctional franchise doesn’t have sense enough to use the only offensive mind they have on their entire staff, Al Saunders.

    BTW, in case no one was aware, McFadden is D-O-N-E done. Pure bust.

  40. paul82461 says: Feb 14, 2013 12:39 PM

    Sparano is Reggies scape goat, all eyes on him. Fire him in December..all is good.

  41. radrntn says: Feb 14, 2013 12:48 PM

    well with three chefs in the kitchen, they should be able to cook up some pretty good stuff…time will tell.

    Bottom line…wake me up from the knapp i took last year.

  42. stevincinci says: Feb 14, 2013 12:50 PM

    Is Palmer still under that huge contract in Oakland? If so, he’ll be starting or cut. Bengals still get a 2nd round pick this year from that trade. An early one at that because the Raiders stunk last year.

  43. annes22 says: Feb 14, 2013 1:07 PM

    Please, Sparano was no good with the Dolphins as head coach, useless with the Jets, so what does he have “up his sleeve” for the Raiders??? I can’t imagine what it could be, but more than likely another firing coming at the end of next season.
    He couldn’t deal with Tebow, what’s he going to do with McFadden?

  44. 808raiderinparadise says: Feb 14, 2013 1:10 PM

    Misleading article … for those of you who clearly don’t know … Sparano is going to go back to the OL coach, NOT OFF CORD… OL is his strength, Olsen will be calling the plays in a power run scheme and pass attack game.

    I think he is a great addition to the OAK staff in the role he is taking on. HC terrible, Off coord. not good, O-line on the other hand, i think if thats his focus you can really get some good work from him.

  45. autumnwind999 says: Feb 14, 2013 1:15 PM

    The trouble is that, well, Wildcat was written in a kind of obsolete vernacular.

    Wildcat. Wild-cat. Poww. Chk-opowww.

    I’m gonna go.

  46. autumnwind999 says: Feb 14, 2013 1:19 PM

    stevincinci says:Feb 14, 2013 12:50 PM

    Is Palmer still under that huge contract in Oakland? If so, he’ll be starting or cut. Bengals still get a 2nd round pick this year from that trade. An early one at that because the Raiders stunk last year.

    ——————————-

    The 1st round pick the Bengals got last year from the Palmer trade had, I believe, 4 tackles last year while Palmer threw for more than 4,000 yards.

    Yup. Some heist.

    Draft’s important, but high picks are also vastly overrated. About 50% of first rounders are total busts.

  47. boogerhut says: Feb 14, 2013 1:21 PM

    raiderlyfe510 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:36 AM

    Dennis Allen should have been fired for installing a system that McFadden-the most dangerous RB in the NFL, was historically ineffective in because he believes in the Zone blocking scheme. The whole purpose of a running scheme is to get production, and we already had a system in place that McFadden was tearing up the league in….It was a complete waste of a season. There was absolutely nothing gained, nothing to build on from last season. If any coach should have been fired after one year it was Dennis Allen.

    I like Sparano as a running game coordinator, even though Bob Wylie- the O line coach who has proven to know how to use McFadden should have been given the job. So Im lightweight excited. If Sparano gets McFadden going then its instant offense.
    ———————————————————–
    So basically you think that a new coach and staff should just do exactly what the last one did? Keep the same players, schemes, and concepts that got the last staff fired? Why change coaches then? Because the team needs a change, that’s why. Just because the old coach was a 4-3 guy doesn’t mean that the new guy won’t switch to 3-4. It happens every year and it takes time to install the right players. You can’t just start drafting and acquiring players for your zone blocking techniques while running the old technique and then switch them in when you have all the pieces. It takes time.

  48. autumnwind999 says: Feb 14, 2013 1:56 PM

    Report comment

    boogerhut says:Feb 14, 2013 1:21 PM

    raiderlyfe510 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:36 AM

    Dennis Allen should have been fired for installing a system that McFadden-the most dangerous RB in the NFL, was historically ineffective in because he believes in the Zone blocking scheme. The whole purpose of a running scheme is to get production, and we already had a system in place that McFadden was tearing up the league in….It was a complete waste of a season. There was absolutely nothing gained, nothing to build on from last season. If any coach should have been fired after one year it was Dennis Allen.

    I like Sparano as a running game coordinator, even though Bob Wylie- the O line coach who has proven to know how to use McFadden should have been given the job. So Im lightweight excited. If Sparano gets McFadden going then its instant offense.
    ———————————————————–
    So basically you think that a new coach and staff should just do exactly what the last one did? Keep the same players, schemes, and concepts that got the last staff fired? Why change coaches then? Because the team needs a change, that’s why. Just because the old coach was a 4-3 guy doesn’t mean that the new guy won’t switch to 3-4. It happens every year and it takes time to install the right players. You can’t just start drafting and acquiring players for your zone blocking techniques while running the old technique and then switch them in when you have all the pieces. It takes time.

    ——————————

    FYI, they’ve already fired the offensive coordinator and abandoned the zone blocking scheme. It was an ill-advised move to begin with, as was firing Hue Jackson in the first place, but that’s neither here nor there.

  49. pooflingingmonkey says: Feb 14, 2013 1:57 PM

    Sparano later went on to add “Next year, when I’m OC in Cleveland, I’ll try something else that was successful for another team.”

  50. tdk24 says: Feb 14, 2013 2:00 PM

    “tooz72 says:
    Feb 14, 2013 10:34 AM
    39 years i’ve been a fan but if Pryor starts, i’ll be watching college football only”
    ___________________________

    Buh-Bye!

  51. ebr362 says: Feb 14, 2013 2:02 PM

    Good thing he didn’t waste them in Miami or NY…insert rolling of eyes

  52. crise40g says: Feb 14, 2013 2:08 PM

    Just going back to the PBS should do wonders. The season before last when they ran the PBS, they ranked in the top 10 in rushing.

  53. captainronmexico says: Feb 14, 2013 2:09 PM

    Sparano is the OFFENSIVE LINE COACH. “Assistant head coach” is nothing but an ego stroking title and a nod to his resume. So all this “will Sparano run the wildcat” is just nonsense and ignorance. He isn’t calling the plays or designing the philosophy. “What will Sparano do?” He’ll coach the line. Which he’s good at. Much ado over an o-line coach hire.

  54. promickey says: Feb 14, 2013 2:21 PM

    Tony would make an excellent high school coach!

  55. ajb3313 says: Feb 14, 2013 2:26 PM

    I agree with those frustrated at Sparano’s constant credit for the wildcat. It was, as this article mentions via a quote from Sparano himself, David Lee’s concept.

  56. ern215 says: Feb 14, 2013 2:29 PM

    some of these omments are so stupid!!!
    sparano is the OFFENSIVE LINE COACH not the o coordinator or the head coach

  57. raideralex99 says: Feb 14, 2013 3:23 PM

    It’s funny they had a top 10 offense with Hue Jackson … the problem was the defense.
    Fired Jackson and with the same players your offense goes south and the defense is still the problem … ouch.
    This proves Hue was the better coach and knows more about football than McKenzie and Allen. If Hue gets the Bengals running game in the top ten this year … McKenzie and Allen should be out the door.

  58. gridironczar says: Feb 14, 2013 4:22 PM

    Tony Sparano was bad in NY..He does not understand the passing game -well he might from the blocking perspective but not from a QB/WR presepective. He can’t install an offensive system or coordinate an offense. He is a good OL coach and that is his role in Oakland. Greg Olson is the OC. Tony is wrongly credited with the success of the “Wildcat” offense but he doesn’t even know it. Dan Henning, his OC in Miami, had David Lee install the Wildcat and they used it to confuse the Patriots…

  59. freedomispopular says: Feb 14, 2013 4:34 PM

    None of this matters at all if McFadden can’t stay on the field.

  60. raiderapologist says: Feb 14, 2013 4:51 PM

    slickster35 says: Feb 14, 2013 12:37 PM

    Thank god this dysfunctional franchise doesn’t have sense enough to use the only offensive mind they have on their entire staff, Al Saunders.

    BTW, in case no one was aware, McFadden is D-O-N-E done. Pure bust.
    ————
    Chief fans are real vocal from January through September, but then they remember that they’re Chief fans and they need to go find a place to hide until the next January. Nothing but trash talking front runners with no stones.

  61. docr8der says: Feb 14, 2013 4:53 PM

    If Hue Jackson had shut the hell up after the loss to SD in his coaching season, he might still be in Oakland.
    His mistake was dissing his players and not taking responsibility for the punk game plan against the Chargers, losing and allowing the donkeys to take division at 8-8.
    I have been with Oakland since ’66 and have weathered some serious doldrums, but also some serious highs. Honestly, I just don’t see any wind in their sails this season either. Allen and Mckenzie are not the solution. Not firing Knapp after the 3rd game had me SMH.

  62. nflhof says: Feb 14, 2013 4:56 PM

    Did he mention anything about the Tarp in the stands and does he know he’s coaching in Oakland and not Jacksonville?

  63. asyoulay69 says: Feb 14, 2013 5:26 PM

    Same ole same ole Raiders.

  64. csdaddy7777 says: Feb 14, 2013 7:44 PM

    thraiderskin says:
    Feb 14, 2013 11:14 AM
    This has got to be a joke… Come on a Raiders, you can’t think Sparano will help the team.
    ——————————————————–
    Relax. Everybody is blowing this article out of proportion. Sparano is the OFFENSIVE LINE COACH!!! He may give some opinions or suggest plays but he is not the offensive coordinator. He will do what he has done best coach the offensive line

  65. nomoreseasontix says: Feb 14, 2013 8:42 PM

    What on earth is everyone talking about?
    Sparano is the O line coach. He’s not going to be installing anything or calling plays.
    Get a grip. Pay attention.

  66. worleyboi says: Feb 18, 2013 5:00 AM

    Some forget that Sparano is a great O-line coach so lets lay off him and watch how beast the raiders line is.gonna b this year

  67. 916takeyawallet420 says: Feb 19, 2013 11:10 PM

    Some of you are to stupid to be allowed access to a computer. Raiders for life. F the wildcat. Pryor will be ESPN’s BFF by week 8.

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