Tuesday, August 18, 2009

NFL Wildcat Mania, Cont'd: Don't Overthink

I spend a lot of time at TimTeblog.com covering Tebow's NFL future, which seems intrinsically tied to the development of the Wildcat formation and its various variations going forward.

Yesterday, I was reading this terrific post about the Wildcat by Smart Football (which just re-launched and had a bevy of brilliant posts yesterday -- the site is a must-read).

Jon Gruden thinks there is a Wildcat "wave" coming. It has been top of the news since Mike Vick got to Philadelphia, where it is presumed he will run some form of the Wildcat for the Eagles.

Here is a quote that caught my attention:
"What the league hasn’t seen yet is the Wildcat with a true passing threat there," said Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who spent 7 years as the head coach at William Tennent and North Penn high schools. "Because if you have both, whether it’s a Vick or a Pat White, the key is whether he can withstand the punishment of basically playing tailback as well [as quarterback]. How long will they be able to withstand the pounding of it?"
So that got me thinking:

Not to be harsh, but who cares if Pat White logs serious Wildcat time in his first two seasons, then is pounded out of the NFL because of the punishment he took?

(1) White was never going to be a full-time franchise QB anyway; he was always going to be some sort of specialist.

(2) We never talk about running backs like that -- instead, we talk about how amazing it is that new RBs emerge when the two-season wonders eventually get pounded into oblivion.

(3) With the increase of dual-threat QBs in college running variations of the spread, there will be an increasing pipeline of players coming out to replace the beaten-down cast-offs.

What's the point of letting Brad Smith run the Wildcat 10 times in a season, and otherwise having him fill out a roster spot?

Why not have him run in 10 times a game, get absolutely punished for a season or two, then do what every coach does with the physically exhausted players when the season is over: Cut them and draft a replacement. Again: The talent pipeline is set up to do just that.

It seems to me that the secret to getting around the "But what kind of QB can take that kind of punishment over a 10-year career?" is to not have your franchise QB run the Wildcat.

Here is a good rule of thumb: Do not use a particularly high draft pick on a player you see as disposable after a few seasons, and don't pay them like a freaking franchise QB.

I think Gruden is right about the coming single-wing revolution, and it will take a mindset shift:

That you are not letting your "franchise QB of the future" get pulverized; you are letting your "4th RB/6th WR, who happens to have QB skills" get pulverized.

It sounds a little harsh, but it is the reality in the NFL -- and the reality of the talent pipeline in college football, as it relates to feeding the expansion of the single-wing in the NFL.

-- D.S.

1 comment:

Tina Cisar said...

Don't hire a "franchise" player to run it and then only have him run it part time. Very doable. 11 on 11 football at its finest, we love the Single Wing.