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'There's a Time and a Place for the Wildcat'

Posted Aug 10, 2014

Jets QBs Geno Smith, Michael Vick See the Benefits of Having the 'Cat in the Offense

With two dual-threat quarterbacks on the roster in Geno Smith and Michael Vick, there’s been plenty of talk about how the Jets plan to use them in games.

Smith was listed as the No. 1 QB and Vick right behind him in the first official depth chart released last week. At Saturday’s practice, the offense devoted a whole period to running the Wildcat and the read-option.

The formations are nothing new to the Jets. The trend started for the Green & White in 2006 with former Missouri QB and Jets WR Brad Smith and RB Leon Washington taking some snaps from under center.

Even during the 2004 season, the Jets had one play that looked similar to a Wildcat formation. QB Chad Pennington was split out wide and RB LaMont Jordan took a direct snap and rushed for 33 yards.

Last season they unofficially ran 38 Wildcat plays in 11 different games. They used five different Wildcat quarterbacks in 2013: RBs Bilal Powell, Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson and WRs Jeremy Kerley and Josh Cribbs all getting a turn under center. And especially late in the season, Geno Smith would keep the ball and run, amassing six touchdowns to tie for the NFL lead among quarterbacks.

Vick has experience being a change-of-pace QB as he was just that in his first year with Philadelphia. The key to changing the pace, Vick said, is all about the timing of when it is used.

“That’s what we kind of learned with it. There’s just a time and a place for it,” said Vick, who threw one touchdown and ran for two more in that role for Donovan McNabb in 2009. “I think you mix it in and you disrupt things defensively with the opposition and just try to make it work like that.”

The Jets tried the change-of-pace quarterback with Tim Tebow in 2012, using him in 47 of the team’s 53 plays out of the Wildcat formation.

For Smith, he’s taking a wait-and-see approach before making any comments about how effective the plays can be this year.

“I think we’ll have to see once we do it, if we do it. That comes down to the coaches and their decision-making,” he said. “If we do, I think it’ll have some benefits and maybe some disadvantages but we won’t know until we get on the field and have an opportunity to rep the plays.”

A concern that is often raised about subbing out quarterbacks in certain packages is that it may disrupt the rhythm of the starter. Smith, however, said he wasn’t too concerned with that last year.

“I never even really thought about that, to tell you the truth. I didn’t think so,” he said of the Wildcat. “I think it helped us out. It kept us on schedule many times and it was something we used quite frequently if I can remember. I think it was pretty successful.”

Vick remains adamant that subbing quarterbacks comes down to the timing of the switch, meaning the situation of the game or the rhythm the starter.

“You just don’t want to disrupt the timing of the game,” he said. “Guys get in rhythms and you want to continue with that rhythm, but there’s a time and a place for it, whether it’s third down, short yardage or the red zone. There’s a time when you can do it and when it can be effective.”

Head coach Rex Ryan was noncommittal Saturday when asked about using Vick in certain packages under center. Ultimately, he said, the decision will come down to what helps the team.

“You’re trying to win the game,” he said at his news conference. “And if you think that’s the best thing for your team, then absolutely you’ll consider it.”

Vick said he expects to be inserted at some points during games, but wouldn’t say during which situations. That, he said, is the team’s business and no one else’s.

“We won’t say when it’s going to happen, it’s just going to happen. That’s our little secret,” he said. “We’ll keep that amongst us girls and make that work.”


 

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