A Look Inside the Tebow Wildcat Debut
By Alan Schechter
Sept. 9, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow (15) warms up before the game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
Heading into week one, a lot of talk surrounding the Jets was about the Wildcat. How was the Wildcat going to be used? Would they use it a lot? A little? What would it look like? Would Tim Tebow throw?
Well the returns are in, and the debut was a bit less than impressive.
The Wildcat ran 8 times for a grand total of 22 yards.
They didn’t have Tim Tebow throw the ball at all, which clearly shows that there is more in the bag of tricks for the Tebow package. And yes, just the fact that the plays are out there, and might be run, adds something for the defense to prepare for. That ultimately will help Mark Sanchez. But, at some point, the Wildcat is going to actually have to produce something positive. If the Wildcat proves time and time again to not be a threat for positive plays, the defense will need less and less time to prepare for it.
It seemed, in my opinion, that they were going back to the Wildcat plays, just for the sake of going to them. By the middle of the second quarter, they had gone to the well 4 times for around 10 yards. It clearly was not working. Whether it was the fact that the Bills had Brad Smith to practice with, David Lee (QB coach) that knows the Wildcat well, or whatever else, it wasn’t working. The offense under Sanchez was clicking. Don’t go to the Wildcat, just for the sake of doing it. Do it when you need to change the momentum.
Sept. 9, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) before the game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
Also, don’t underestimate the effect that the Wildcat can eventually have on this guy. Mark Sanchez. When you run the Wildcat based on a set schedule, you have to be careful. Taking Mark Sanchez out at a specific time, regardless of how the offense is going, can eventually affect his confidence. I am not saying that it will, I am saying that it could. It can come off as the coaches saying, “We don’t think you can complete this drive, so we need to change it up and help you out”. Again, I am not saying that is happening after one game, I am saying that it COULD if it keeps happening. Don’t misunderstand me and say I am talking about Mark being rattled already. I am just saying doing things this way, the Jets have to be careful.
The rhythm can be an issue as well. Some say it is overrated, and it seemed to be a non-issue on Sunday, but it can be an issue. For example, on the second drive of the game, Mark hit Jeremy Kerley for a 21 yard conversion on third down. That is the type of play that gets a quarterback heated up, and gets them on a hot streak. But what did the Jets do? Take Tebow out, and he ran a play that netted four yards. The Wildcat needs to be run when a change of pace is needed. A change of pace is not necessary after a big third down conversion.
Yes, it didn’t affect Mark’s rhythm on Sunday. But, they will be playing better teams than the Bills during 2012, starting next week in Pittsburgh. Defenses like that can affect your rhythm when you are in for every play at quarterback, they certainly can if you are coming out after completions.
There were some other occasions during the game when Tim came into the game after Mark completed a third down pass for a first down. We saw that it didn’t affect Mark’s rhythm, this week. The Jets will play against better defenses as I said before. It’s not a guarantee that this will throw him off his rhythm in the future, but it could. Wouldn’t it make more sense that if Sanchez is playing well, and completing big passes, to just leave him alone? Isn’t the theory “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”, a valid one?
It is a valid theory. Quarterbacks need to keep that feel they have in a game. They cannot just come out of a game when they have the hot hand, and it can alter the momentum dramatically. The Wildcat needs to be a change of pace, when the Jets actually “need” a change of pace, not just for the sake of changing the pace.
The Jets must handle the Wildcat carefully, that’s all. It was unsuccessful on Sunday, but it didn’t negatively affect the result of the game. But it could.