If the Jets roll out their version of the Wildcat, and no one tweets about it, did it actually happen?
After not running their version of the Wildcat on Friday night in their preseason opening loss at Cincinnati, the Jets unveiled new parts of the package on Monday to great excitement — and secrecy. Media covering the Jets were not allowed to tweet about the package or the specifics involved.
In their first two seasons under head coach Rex Ryan, the Jets utilized the Wildcat with Brad Smith running the package. The former Missouri quarterback was certainly athletic enough for the role but lacked the arm strength and — snickers aside — accuracy of Tebow. The Wildcat wasn’t used in the preseason loss to the Bengals and likely won’t be used at all before Week 1, or at the very least will be rolled out in a limited fashion.
“Some of it was the first time; some of it we’ve done bits and pieces before. Some of our new play action stuff we’ve done before so we’re still putting in some of the install,” Tebow said. “Some of that stuff was new out there today for us. But some of it we’ve gone over once or twice. But overall, I felt with everything, we executed pretty well. I think it was a good day offensively.”
Tebow of course is more famed for his ability with his feet than his arm.
During his rookie season, Tebow ran for more touchdowns (six) than he threw for (five). Last year with Denver, he was the second-leading rusher on the Broncos and led the team in rushing touchdowns, again with six. So running out of the Wildcat and being able to make plays with his feet is something not unfamiliar to the Jets backup quarterback.
“Well, it’s something that I’ve had so many reps and gone through that so many times, especially at the University of Florida and even in high school too,” Tebow said. “So it’s something I’m very comfortable with and obviously, that’s why most of the time I am under center and doing things that I haven’t done as much— play-action drops, seven-step drops, five-step drops. Getting in the gun and doing that stuff has always been a little easier for me.”
The Dolphins helped bring the Wildcat into the NFL, utilizing the package as a complement to Chad Henne and the traditional offense. Twice a year the Jets would play the Dolphins and would struggle against not only the Wildcat but also the offense when Henne was under center.
New York would devote so much time in the week leading up to playing Miami in practicing against the Wildcat that they didn’t have as much time to learn about the traditional offense.
“I just think it’s an effective weapon. It’s a change of pace, but also it takes up a lot of preparation time, and you guys know how I feel about it. You can feel good about it, all of a sudden that hits you. A perfect example is when we played Miami. We struggled. The first time we ever played Miami we struggled stopping the Wildcat. Then at the end of the day we couldn’t stop anything,” head coach Rex Ryan said.
“It’s just one of those things. It’s a body blow. You’re trying to stop it, you’re working on it, you’re working on it and then something else goes wrong. So hopefully that will be the case here.”
“Getting to the line of scrimmage we had certain checks verse the looks and [we’re] just trying to get in and out of those checks as fast as possible, as clean as possible and as crisp as possible,” Tebow said. “So with whatever is called, that’s what we’re going to do is execute and have a fast tempo and play fast, but you can do that in the [shot] gun, under center, whatever, based on the play.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.