What’s Behind The WildCat Secrecy?
By Sean Lester Durham
Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano may have something other than the traditional Wildcat up his sleeve this season.
Ever since Tim Tebow was traded to the Jets back in the spring, it has been debated and speculated to no end as to how the Jets would and should best utilize him and his strengths within their offense. The Jets have released annoying daily “How We will use Tebow” updates during camp and that has undoubtedly fueled the speculations. Jets eventually confirmed that Tebow will be their “Wildcat QB” but have decided to hide their Wildcat practices from the media and the world as if the Wildcat is some sort of mysterious ANCIENT SECRET that is undiscovered and they, the 2012 NY JETS will unveil it for the first time EVER this season and until then they need to keep it Top Secret. That’s certainly NOT the case but I do however believe that the Jets MIGHT have a legit reason for the secrecy surrounding the wildcat practices and my “reasoning” may sound more like a conspiracy or even wishful thinking but that’s what the Jets have forced everyone to do at this point, speculate utilizing our WILDEST imaginations. What do you expect us to do when you practice the Wildcat, a creative and different offensive formation that is anything BUT a SECRET in this league, a formation that the league has actually defended QUITE well since Tony Sparano’ s Dolphins reminded the league a couple of seasons ago just how effective it can be, in SECRECY? What else can one think except MAYBE you have a legit reason to do so? Well I believe the Jets reasoning for this secrecy behind the Wildcat plays is most likely due to some sort of experimental modification of the formation by OC Tony Sparano that will infuse the Wildcat and the Spread Option together while utilizing pre-snap deception and trickery.
Jets QB Tim Tebow's athleticism will be crucial in Tony Sparano's offense
Tin foil hat/big brother stuff right? Yeah I know, just stay with me.
I believe this offensive scheme will essentially call for both QBs to be on the field simultaneously in either a 3, 4 or 5 WR set, predicated on pre-snap motions that will call for Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow to alternate initial positions utilizing motions ultimately ending in a swap at QB under center or in the shotgun stance and calls for 1 or 2 WRs (depending on the WR set the offense is currently in) to most likely spread out to open up multiple vertical seams for both the running and passing game to exploit, as the defense is forced to spread itself thin across the field to cover everyone and having to decide to stay in their called defense or audible to defend the run or pass. It will look similar to what Tebow ran in Denver last season but with a TWIST and that “twist” is Mark Sanchez and the pro-style offense that I think Sparano will infuse with the Spread Option/Wildcat. Mark Sanchez and the pro-style offense will be the base offense that defenses MUST prepare for and what opposing defenses WILL see majority of the time on game day, something Denver’s opponents didn’t have to prepare for last season. Though the Broncos did win some games utilizing the spread option offense (granted ALOT of WEIRD things DID happen in order for the Broncos to actually WIN those games), it eventually caught up to them in the playoffs vs the Pats as Tebow and that offense was exploited by Bill Bellichick and the Patriots.
EX: Steelers DC Dick Lebeau prepared a game plan for the Broncos to stop the SPREAD OPTION but eventually paid for that mistake by getting beat by Tebow by way of TRADTIONAL PRO STYLE QB PASSES AND PLAYS. The 80+ yard TD pass to Demayrius Thomas in OT that won the game, was a pass out of the traditional pro-style set. Tebow and the Broncos utilize the traditional shotgun passing formation with one running back and three wide receivers and given that quarterback Tebow has a well-known predilection for running, the Steelers paid little mind to Denver’s receivers. It’s no doubt that leading up to the game, the Steelers defense practiced the entire week for Denver’s read option offense and it end up costing them the game. The issue that the Jets have is that as good as Tebow was that day vs. the Steelers and as great a pass as Tebow threw to Thomas in overtime, Tebow’s mechanics are probably NOT changing anytime soon and he’s just entirely too inconsistent, sporadic and erratic with his throws to be considered a reliable QB in a traditional pro-style offense but he’s way too talented to NOT be utilized within an offense.
Mark Sanchez's blocking skills will be just as important as his arm this season.
The Jets base offense WILL be a traditional pro-style offense headed by Mark Sanchez and an offense that Tim Tebow can make throws out of occasionally. This offense is the offense that opposing defenses WILL need to game plan for along with the traditional Wildcat but like Lebeau did leading up to the matchup with the Broncos, the defense will have to decide what to game plan on specifically during the week and this may ultimately end up proving to be a problem for opposing defenses. This hypothetical hybrid Wildcat/Spread Option offense won’t be utilized ad nauseam within the games but it will be utilized to keep opposing defenses on their toes and prevent them from getting comfortable with the Jets offense. It will be utilized on a case by case basis and to possibly change the tempo of the game or to incorporate within audibles and catch the defense in the wrong defensive package and either force them into a bad defensive position or force them to utilize their time outs so they can get the appropriate defense on the field. Simply put, It CAN be the winning piece in the ultimate chess match between Tony Sparano and opposing Defensive Coordinators. With Tebow on board, the Jets have the personnel to run this type of modified offense effectively if they can pick the appropriate times within the games to spring it on opposing defenses. Make no mistake about it; though execution WILL be vital, this will essentially fall on the shoulders of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano as he is responsible for creating plays for this modified scheme, selecting the adequate personnel to execute it and selecting the best time within games to spring this offense on opposing defense.
It will be interesting to see how many formations Sparano will be able to create for this “scheme” to prevent opposing teams from getting TOO familiar with the plays considering the majority of Sparano’s energy needs to be focused primarily on creating, implementing and coaching the Jets traditional base offense. Right now, the Jets are still trying to figure out who they are and what they want to do on offense and in the first pre-season game vs. the Bengals the Jets’ offense didn’t exactly lift off and considering the rash of injuries to key players on offense, I’d say the odds of the Jets having a vastly effective offense is pretty slim but since Rex Ryan began coaching and Mark Sanchez began quarterbacking the Jets, they have surely beaten the odds a time or two and there’s no reason why when it’s all said and done this season, the Jets won’t once AGAIN be in the ring with the odds, standing over them triumphantly while the odds lay flat out on the canvas.