August 14, 2012


Wildcat secrecy


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
The New York Jets prepare for the snap of the football during Monday’s camp session at SUNY Cortland.

Staff Writer

The New York Jets held their next-to-last closed session for training camp at SUNY Cortland Monday, but it was pretty much a closed practice to the news media as well.
While the press did get to watch the full morning workout, those scribes were prohibited from writing a word on the special offensive package installed by the Jets that took up a large chunk of practice time.
Yes, Aug. 13 was the day the Jets unveiled some of their Wildcat offensive package.
The media could report that simple fact, but team restrictions stated reporters were not allowed to relate any specifics of those drills.
“I trust (offensive coordinator Tony) Sparano with however he thinks the best way to use it is, and that’s what we’ll do,” starting quarterback Mark Sanchez said in his post-practice press conference. “I know the entire offense has full faith in him and we’re excited about the scheme.”
The addition of Tim Tebow to quarterback the Wildcat will hopefully energize the Jets offensively.
“It could help us a lot and hopefully it does,” said Sanchez, though the Wildcat will take away some of his snaps with the first team offense. “Like I said, (I) just keep reiterating that I know Coach Sparano has a good handle on that and he’ll put us in the right positions to win football games.”
Any other questions referring to the Wildcat were answered in a similar manner by Sanchez. “You’ll have to ask Coach Sparano,” he said.
It was like old times for Tebow.
“Well, it’s something that I’ve had so many reps (with) and gone through that so many times, especially at the University of Florida and even in high school,” 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.
“Well that’s the thing about Coach Sparano,” he continued in reference to Sparano’s version of the Wildcat. “He’s someone that is extremely creative, extremely passionate, and he’s (going to) do whatever it takes to win. It’s not same old same old with him. He’s continually talking about new things, looking at new things, and I think that’s the sign of a great coach.”
Here are some Wildcat numbers:
From the of Elias Sports Bureau: Sparano ran 238 Wildcat plays from 2008-11 as Miami’s coach, most in NFL. That represented 5.8 percent of the Dolphins’ offensive plays.
From ESPN Stats and Information: The Broncos called 84 designed rushes for Tebow last season, most among quarterbacks.
He averaged 4.3 yards per rush with five touchdowns.
From the Jets: The offense ran only 12 Wildcat plays last season (three going for first downs with no touchdowns scored) without Brad Smith on the roster. In 2010 when Smith was around, they ran 43 plays (11 first downs, two TDs).
QBs SHARPER: One thing that could be reported was the daily passing efforts. Sanchez was an accurate 11-for-12 in 7-on-7 drills, with the only incompletion a pass broken up by Darrelle Revis. Tebow went 4-for-5 in the same drill.
At one point, the two QBs threw 14 straight completions.
In 11-on-11 play, Sanchez went 4-for-12 with one interception and he was sacked twice. Tebow was 5-for-6 and was sacked twice as well.
SAL’s THOUGHTS: ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio had some very interesting thoughts and observations on Tebow between his days in Denver and training camp with the Jets.
“Jaws (Ron Jaworski) was here the first five days of camp with me,” Paolantonio said of his ESPN Match-Up mate. “We have both watched a lot of Tebow and he is a Tebow critic, but his ball has more velocity this year. You get velocity from driving the ball and spinning the ball. The spin is tighter and he is driving it better. He still has the elongated wind-up and delivery. Will that go away? I don’t know, but if he has more velocity on the ball that will make up for the elongated delivery. His mechanics have improved. He is becoming a quarterback.
“So have Sanchez’s mechanics,” he added. “Sanchez has added 12 pounds of upper body muscle and that has made him stronger throwing the football. His throwing the ball has been good too.”
Paolantonio said he does not expect Tebow to become the starter this season.
“They have 20 million reasons (dollars) to make Sanchez the starting quarterback,” he said. “I don’t think Sanchez will be supplanted as the starter unless he really falls on his face or gets injured. Mediocre won’t keep him from being the starter. Mediocre might get you more Tebow in wildcat, in third-and-short and more goal-line offense, but Sanchez will come out of the tunnel as starter for all 16 games unless he seriously fails or gets hurt. Tebow is going to make a significant contribution. Necessity is the mother of invention and this team needs something on offense. It needs some kind of a spark.
“You’ve seen (Antonio) Cromartie is passing drills on offense,” Paolantonio continued. “Sparano said he likes guy with swagger when Cromartie said he was the second best receiver. Cromartie might bring that to the huddle. Joe McKnight has said that Tebow does bring swagger when he’s in the huddle. With Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley not at wide receiver right now, you need something. There’s not one player, publicly or privately, who will say one back thing about Tebow. I’ve been here 19 straight days and I am really impressed with how well liked he (Tebow) is in the locker room.”
Jets head coach Rex Ryan agrees with Paolantonio as to who is the starting quarterback — Sanchez.
“Mark is our quarterback,” Ryan said in his Monday press conference. “As much as everybody is trying to make it a quarterback controversy, it’s not.”


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