What if the Jets won’t be using the Wildcat at all?

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The Jets have made it widely known that they’ll be using the Wildcat this year.  But what if they actually won’t be using it at all?

They’ve hired former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, who four years ago bedeviled the Patriots with the surprise unveiling of the NFL’s version of the alternative attack, which works best when the players in the base offense remain on the field.  In September 2008, the Dolphins slapped it together in the week preceding a game in New England — and they scored four touchdowns on six plays with Ronnie Brown taking the snap in shotgun formation, Ricky Williams lining up as a flanker who would come in motion and either get the ball on a handoff or (in that specific game) not get the ball on a handoff, and quarterback Chad Pennington split wide as a receiver.

Since then, it’s been used by several other teams, even though there has been a sense in more recent seasons that the Wildcat has run its course.  In other incarnations, the Wildcat entailed actually removing the starting quarterback from the field and using a different signal-caller.   The Eagles did it with Mike Vick (to the chagrin of Donovan McNabb).  The Jets did it with Brad Smith.  Even the Dolphins did it with Pat White, a second-round draft bust taken only months after Miami’s starting-quarterback-stays-on-the-field Wildcat wowed the league.

Tebow has worked with a similar, but different, approach during his two seasons in Denver, lining up in shotgun with a tailback to his side.  The base play is a simple read-option, with the ball going to the running back if the defensive end on the side of the tailback comes wide or staying in Tebow’s hands, with the quarterback running to where the defensive end was if he bites on the handoff and crashes toward what would have been the point of attack.

From that basic look, Tebow can also pass after faking the handoff, as he did on the only play from scrimmage in overtime against the Steelers in January.

If that’s what the Jets will be using, it’s not the Wildcat.  So what will the Jets be using?

There’s a reason, in our view, for the Jets to be so secretive about their practices entailing what they’re calling the “Wildcat.”  There’s a reason, in our view, for the Jets to have not even broken out the Wildcat (or, as the case may be, the “TeBone”) in preseason games.  And there’s a reason, in our view, for the Jets to be spending so much time talking about how preparing for the Wildcat will suck time away from preparing for the base offense.

We (and, really, for something potentially as harebrained as this I should say, “I”) think that, when the Jets host the Bills on September 9, what they use as the “Wildcat” package will neither be the Wildcat nor the Tebow read-option base offense.

Consider this.  The Bills new quarterbacks coach is David Lee.  He’s the same David Lee who was the quarterbacks coach in Miami in (yep) 2008.  Though Sparano gets the credit for the Miami version of the Wildcat, his offensive coordinator (Dan Henning) called the attack that accounted for 28 points in the 38-13 thrashing of the Pats “the David Lee Special.”  (That’s straight from Tim Layden’s Blood, Sweat and Chalk, easily the best modern compendium of football analysis.)  It was Lee who had pitched the “Wild Hog” offense he’d used at Arkansas with Darren McFadden to Henning on the flight home from a 31-10 loss at Arizona only a week earlier.

And it’s Lee who now is working for the team the Jets will face in Week One and Week 17.

Chances are that David Lee knows how to stop the David Lee Special.  Chances are that the Jets won’t be using it.

Last year, Pats coach Bill Belichick showed not once but twice that he knows how to shut down the Broncos TeBone offense.  And, as always, the Jets play the Pats twice.  Chances are that the Jets won’t be using the attack Tebow ran in Denver.

Then there are the Dolphins, who have plenty of guys on defense who were on the team when Sparano ran the show and Lee coached the quarterbacks and the Dolphins used both the true Wildcat and the short-lived and ill-fated Pat White version of the read-option.  Since the Jets also will face Miami twice per year, chances are that the Jets won’t be giving the Dolphins any looks that they may have seen in practice over the past few seasons.

So if it’s not the Wildcat or the TeBone per se, what will the Jets be using?  Maybe it’ll be the true single wing, a shell-game of an offense with a direct snap to Tebow and guys like Shonn Greene as the tailback and John Conner assuming the role of what was/is the “quarterback” in the offense, lined up not far behind the gap in the two tackles of the unbalanced line — and ready to blow up whomever stands between Tebow or Greene and the secondary.

Throw in Santonio Holmes as the single wingback in the “single wing,” and Holmes can play the role of Demaryius Thomas getting single coverage, if/when Tebow fakes a handoff and musters a reasonably accurate throw.

The point is that the Jets are smart enough to know that the teams they’ll face in six out of 16 games are smart enough to know how to defend the Wildcat and/or the TeBone.  With Mark Sanchez leaving the field and Tebow entering from the sideline (unless the big secret is that the Jets plan to use Tebow as a fullback or tight end in the base offense), the Jets need a genuine element of surprise.

The surprise could be that, once Tebow enters the game, the offense that opposing defenses see will be nothing like what they expected to see.

32 responses to “What if the Jets won’t be using the Wildcat at all?

  1. One problem with your history. Henning actually ran the “Wildcat” the year before at Carolina. In the final game of the season the Panthers were down to I think Chris Weinke at QB. Rather than try and throw it, Henning installed a direct snap to Deangelo Williams who led the Panthers to victory.

  2. I reccomend they give Jim Zorn a call to run the swinging gate. The Jets are a punchline as it stands and one more chuckle would do us all well and that’s the bottomline causse Stone Cold said so.

  3. Who cares, the Jets suck, Teblow sucks, Sanchez sucks, I wish there was a media black-out of this team, and I hope they go 1-15.

  4. I think it’s reasonable that Miami ran a similar offense and could reasonably defend against it, but most teams last year that expected it still couldn’t defend it – including the NYJ under Rex Ryan. I think we’ll see all kinds of crazy things out of NY this year, and I for one am excited to see all of them!

  5. Does Rex intentionally want an undermanned, underperforming, non explosive offense to make his defense look good? The Jets might win 6 ugly games this season only because of the defense. Yuck! I won’t be watching. Snooze alert

  6. David Lee came up with the 3-rb package at Arkansas when he had Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hills and wanted to get them all on the field together.

    It was an act of desperation in Miami when they had nothing at qb or wr but three good tailbacks (Ricky, Ronnie and Patrick Cobbs) . Parcells was desperate and asked if anyone had ANYTHING so Lee spoke up, they gave it a shot and the gimmick worked.

    That’s all it was – a gimmick and an act of desperation. I really wish the media would stop talking about it as if it was some stroke of genius.

  7. The Jets will do something with Tebow. Whether it is wildcat or option, they will. They just arent going to show their hand just yet.

    The only thing that would stop them from using the wildcat or wild Tebow would be if their regular offense was enough to win games and keep opposing defenses busy preparing for them.

  8. It really is getting old hearing about Rex, Tebow or the Jets each and every freakin single day.
    The Jets have done nothing to warrant all the coverage. They are overrated and not good.

  9. The Jets offense better come up with something (like maybe a RT) because what I saw last night they are not going to win four games.

  10. It’s no more of a gimmick than play action pass or an end around. But the problem is you need the right backs to be able to execute it successfully. So far, Tebow is the only back they have capable of running that style of offense. Their other backs are no good and their line can’t seem to block, which is why they will fail if they try to run the Wildcat.

  11. The Buffalo Bills also did well against the Tebow-led Broncos, so you add them to the list of teams that don’t fear Tebow-led run offenses.

  12. The way Rex Ryan talks, does anybody really think it’s possible for him to keep a secret?!?

  13. why does coach sporano get credit for the wildcat when in fact it was his OC, Dan Henning who installed it? That goes back to Henning’s time in Carolina in 2006, when the Panthers were so bad off at QB, Chirs Weinke wasn’t trusted to pass at all that game. Wildcat… Get it? Panthers/Cat? Just saying.

  14. What if none of the other 31 fan bases cares? Oh wait… clearly that means nothing.

    Any other team – any other team – regularly plays as mediocre a brand of football as this one and we’d hear nothing about them. Ironically, it’s because of two very mediocre QB’s playing equally mediocre football on this mediocre team that we need to hear about them 24-7. A perfect storm of mediocrity renders… HEADLINES!!!

  15. delhommed says:
    Aug 19, 2012 3:18 PM
    why does coach sporano get credit for the wildcat when in fact it was his OC, Dan Henning who installed it? That goes back to Henning’s time in Carolina in 2006, when the Panthers were so bad off at QB, Chirs Weinke wasn’t trusted to pass at all that game. Wildcat… Get it? Panthers/Cat? Just saying.
    It’s called the Wildcat because the high school where Hugh Wyatt — the man credited with coming up with the formation — coached was called the Wildcats.

  16. The darlings of the
    E-astern S-eaboard P-ropaganda N-etwork!
    They are a pseudo Reality show with Sexy Rexy the star and Tebow the clueless bimbo that is used as relief. Why? What’s the point? The show needs to be canceled!

  17. Maybe the jets will use the fumblerewsky as well or the hook and ladder and possibly a immaculate reception recreation. Just saying

  18. That’s a fair amount of over analysis for a crappy team with a crappy offense.
    I’m not sure any of it matters…

  19. The Jags should have acquired Tebow, and just scrap their entire scheme and installed a Hybrid of Tebow’s Offense from Florida. You cant reinvent Tebow, he will never be a good conventional QB, but he is great at the read-option.

    IDK it was kinda of exciting last year having DENVER doing something totally different, compared to the rest of the league.

    Tebow should have gone to JAX, where they would have more open to showcasing his talents. If he does get opportunity to be starter in NYJ he will be running a conventional offense with some read-option, and he will fail. He needs to have his offense completely tailored to him for success, but with guys like Santonio Holmes on the team it will be a debacle when they start complaining about targets… etc

  20. Well, it makes sense…they have no ability to front an NFL passing game regardless of who’s behind C. ANyway the Wildcat’s big flaw, was that it didn’t work against a well disciplined D that could play man to man well. You simply assign 6 of your back 7 man to man on the 6 non OLineman, and stick the FS in centerfield. When your man stays in to block you pass rush or play zone depending on the situation. THis leaves the Dlineman to simply play a contain game where penetration is not wanted. Stay in your lane, stand your guy up at the LOS type of DLine play. And this is a similar way to how Belichick played the TeBone last year in the playoff win. But you have to be able to cover the WRs man up with single high help. And you can’t be missing tackles. But back to the article…it wouldn’t surprise me if they don’t have a Wildcat or similar offense at all to show anyone. I know it seems to make sense to keep it secret until regular season. But it doesn’t really. Unless you have a new type offense for Tebow, and nobody has seen it. Or you are blowing smoke and there is no alternate offense at all. That’s an advantage too. I know the Bengals practiced defending the WIldcat in practice before playing the Jets last week. Yet Rex claims there was an agreement to not use it. But you can look on Bengals.com, and find the last practice before the Jets game, we put rookie WR Sanu in the QB position and had him run Wildcat plays so our defenders could get looks at it. Seems odd if there was already a guarantee the Wildcat wouldn’t be used.

  21. If I were Rex and I really did have a wildcat package installed I think I’d be afraid to trot it out. If the fans see the wildcat package ALSO not working they’ll run him out of town on a rail.

    I don’t see where they have the tools to run a wildcat any more than they have the tools to run a conventional offense. One person (Tebow) doesn’t enable an offense. In fact the wildcat and other single-wing derivatives require expert blocking.

    The Jets do not currently have expert blocking.

  22. Stop crying Jet Fans, It takes time to learn Tony Sparano offense. This game doesn’t count. The Jets will not face the Giants in the season. The Jets dump Wayne Hunter

  23. David Lee did not come up with the Wild Hog in Arkansas; it was Gus Malzahn who is given credit for bringing it to prominence there. David Lee inherited it from Malzahn after Malzahn left and Lee became the OC and then Lee took it to the NFL and unleashed it on Belichick with Miami.

    The hallmark of the Wildcat or Wild Hog or Wild Rebel is an unbalanced line. Just because a RB gets a direct snap does not mean it is the same formation. You ask David Lee whether a direct snap to the RB is necessarily the Wildcat formation and I think he will give you a resounding no. Without the unbalanced line, you lose a key component of its advantage.

  24. You mean the Dolphins’ defense who got burned by the TeBone offense last year? Yeah, I’m sure *that* won’t happen again.

    Oh, and Sanchez will be eating hot dogs on the sideline inside week 6. Write it down.

  25. Quick search yielded the follwing top reasons to use the single-sing… Ya, this sounds like the Jets.

    •The single wing is an excellent ball control offense, which translates to less time on the field for your defense.
    •It’s an excellent formation for teams lacking a talented quarterback or feature halfback.
    •With an emphasis on team football, all players get a chance to contribute.
    •When opponents are trying to prepare for your team, their scout team will have a difficult time of accurately simulating the single wing.

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