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Tim Tebow: The Master Plan

#1 User is offline   bigrob142 Icon

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 12:41 PM

TIM TEBOW: THE MASTERPLAN?
http://sportsgeekguy...the-masterplan/

October 18, 2012 · by SportsGeek33 · in New York Jets
The talk of the town in New York has been the same for some time now, and for month-upon-month one question has hung heavily over the skyline like smog over Los Angeles: “What’s the big idea with Tim Tebow?”

To arrive at an understanding of how that question might best be answered by saying: “The idea is for him to change football as we know it,” let’s take a moment to head down south to Florida where we’ll find an oddly compelling story involving a High School mascot, Bill Parcells, Tony Sparano, and last but not least, a now all-but forgotten QB called Pat White.

But before we get into that particular tale, let’s first take a quick refresher course on what the Wildcat is and why it was ever designed in the first place.


Tebow and Sparano: Planning to revolutionize the Wildcat?
The key thing to understand when looking at the Wildcat (which is named after the mascot of La Centre High School in Washington state – its birthplace in 1998) is that in regular defensive schemes no defender is ever assigned to cover the QB. This simple fact gives a numerical edge to the defense in that it can normally use its 11 men to outnumber the opposition’s 10-plus-the-QB. Or to put it in very basic terms, under normal circumstances the defense always has a “spare man.”

Generally speaking, defense is all about math, and until a few years ago all defensive coordinators built their gameplans around the assumption that they would have the “spare man” at their disposal. By way of example, nobody would have expected a defense to consistently stop the run by having each defender beat his blocker – instead it would be more likely that the defense might walk a safety up to the line of scrimmage, thereby putting eight players in the box so as to gain a numerical advantage.

The sole purpose of the Wildcat was to wipe out this advantage by forcing the defense to assign a man to cover the QB, and this was achieved by simply having him and a WR swap places.


Hugh Wyatt – the pioneering former coach of the La Center High Wildcats
Immediately this gives the defense a headache – for example, if the CB who is covering the WR follows him as he lines up where the QB should be, there is now nobody out wide to cover the QB (who has effectively become a WR) and he will be literally wide open for a simple 8 to 10+ yard lob-and-catch on each down. But if the defender stays where he is, then not only is the recently moved WR unaccounted for, but the defense is also effectively wasting the CB by having him cover a ‘receiver’ who is really no threat at all!

Eventually defensive coordinators cottoned onto the idea that although it would never be possible to regain the numerical advantage, they could effectively counter the Wildcat by taking advantage of its predictability (because it prevents the defense from putting eight men in the box, it is a run-oriented offense) while also ensuring they subbed in the right players at the right time by carefully watching which personnel the offense was putting onto the field during any given play.

Another weakness in the system was identified by former Jets QB Chad Pennington. When he was playing in Miami, Pennington was asked how he felt about the prospect of lining up at WR in the Wildcat. He responded by briefly talking about how much defenders love having a chance to hit QB’s really hard and then added: “I don’t think you would last very long.”

All of which leads us neatly on to the ill-fated story of ex-Dolphins Wildcat guru (now present-day Jets offensive coordinator) Tony Sparano, and former West Virginia QB Pat White.

When the Dolphins announced that they were using the 48th overall pick of the 2009 draft to acquire White, eyebrows were raised right across the country. Sure, he was a decent QB who had enjoyed a reasonable career at college level, but to most people that was exactly the kind of prospect that he was – a reasonable one. Additionally it was felt that White was physically ill-equipped to handle life as an NFL QB, and as such he was expected to be taken long after the second round had been and gone.


Former Dolphins “quarterback” Pat White officially quit the game before the 2011 season began.
But what the world at large didn’t know at the time was that when Sparano (who was then in charge of the Dolphins offense) looked at Pat White, what he saw was a vision that many observers believe has since become an obsession: White, he felt, was the missing ingredient that would make the Dolphins Wildcat completely unstoppable.

Before drafting White, Sparano (who first introduced the NFL to the Wildcat back in 2008) had been running the system with RB Ronnie Brown at the helm. But despite its early promise, teams soon began to realise that Brown’s throwing ability was limited at best, and so defenses began to key on the run with considerable success.

The obvious solution to this problem was to replace Brown with a genuine QB who could also be taught how to catch the ball, thereby creating a Wildcat package that was a threat both in the air and on the ground at one and the same time. White seemed to be the ideal man for the job.

Unfortunately for Sparano, things didn’t quite pan out that way. In order for this version of the Wildcat to succeed, the Dolphins needed their regular QB Pennington to be on the field at the same time as White and so when he went down with an injury, that was just the beginning of the problems.

Former Dolphins VP of Football Operations Bill Parcells explained in 2011: “At the time, we were thinking we could expand the Wildcat, you know. But it turns out he [White] wasn’t accurate enough and didn’t throw it well enough. We learned from that.”

The last part of that statement seems particularly relevant to present-day Jets fans. Exactly what did Sparano learn from the Pat White fiasco? Did he give up on the idea of revolutionizing the Wildcat, or has he just been waiting for the right player to come along? So far this season the Wildcat offense has been conspicuous by its absence from the gameplan. Yes, it’s been seen on the odd occasion, yet in the grand scheme of things it’s hardly been displayed at all. But why?

There are obviously many potential answers, but perhaps the most tantalizing one can be found by revisiting the seemingly comical moment earlier this season when – against the Dolphins of all teams – Sanchez aimed a pass at Tebow only to see it bounce off the back of his helmet.


Tebow looks to haul in the pass from Sanchez against the Dolphins in Week 3.
In light of what we now know about Sparano and Pat White, maybe we should reconsider that moment from a slightly more serious perspective and ask if it might just be possible that by calling that play in a “live” situation, Sparano was slowly and cautiously taking the first step towards implementing the lessons that he learned during his time in Miami.

If it is, then the football world had better prepare itself for an offensive revolution of the first order, because if Sparano and his receiving coach Sanjay Lal can turn Tebow into a throwing, running, and receiving triple-threat Wildcat freak, then the game as we know it will soon be changed forever.

Indeed, behind the closed doors of the Jets’ Florham Park training facility, it may well be the case that it already has.

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#2 User is offline   JSOTF Icon

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 04:59 PM

Very interesting article. I wonder how long a team would practice a 'Wildcat' Senario before implementing it in a game?

I am not a huge believer of the 'Wildcat', but Tebow has converted 4 First Downs from the punt formation. Sporano's idea or Westoff?
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