Injury slows Pace/ Wildcat Offense( possible) for Jets- Cimini
Expect 'Wildcat' type offense from Jets against Raiders
BY RICH CIMINI
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Thursday, October 16th 2008, 9:50 PM
Leon Washington could benefit from the use of the 'Wildcat' offense.
The Dolphins are being hailed as outside-the-box thinkers for starting the "Wildcat" craze in the NFL, but the Jets actually dabbled with it a year ago. In separate games, running back Leon Washington scored on an 18-yard run and completed a 36-yard pass - both on direct snaps in shotgun formation.
When that was mentioned to him this week, Washington smiled.
"Thank you, I appreciate that," he said, glad that somebody remembered.
The Jets haven't used it this season, although Washington would love to dust off that page in their playbook, allowing him and Thomas Jones to line up in the same formation the way the Dolphins are utilizing Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
If the Jets don't break out the "Wildcat" Sunday in Oakland, they'd better be prepared to defend it. The Raiders (1-4) have used it three times with Darren McFadden, and now that the rookie running back has recovered from a turf-toe injury that hampered him for a month, it could be featured in their game plan.
THIS WEEK'S DAILY NEWS' NFL STAFF PICS
Interim coach Tom Cable said there's a "whole plan" for the versatile McFadden, noting the Raiders have "about half a playbook" for ways to get him the ball. McFadden grew up in the "Wildcat," except it was called the "Wild Hog" at Arkansas, where he became famous for his "quarterback" cameos. He passed for seven touchdowns in college, destroying defenses as a two-way threat.
"I love doing it," McFadden said on a conference call, hinting it could be part of the Raiders' package this week. "Growing up, I played quarterback a lot, so being able to go back and take a direct snap under center just makes you feel at home again."
The "Wildcat" or "Wild Hog" is a version of the old single wing, created by Pop Warner. A running back, in shotgun formation, gets the snap. He can run it himself, hand off to the other back (often in motion) or throw a pass. The quarterback is split wide as a receiver, and sometimes the offensive line is unbalanced.
The Dolphins got the idea from quarterbacks coach David Lee, formerly the offensive coordinator at Arkansas. Week after week, they've managed to surprise defenses with different plays out of the formation. In last week's loss to the Texans, former Jet Chad Pennington threw a long touchdown from the receiver position.
The idea is basic: Get the ball into the hands of your playmakers and create some deception.
"It throws the defense off," Washington said. "It allows the runner to attack the defense at different angles and set up different plays."
When Washington saw the Dolphins use it, he thought it might have been Pennington's brainchild, considering the number of gadget plays the Jets ran the last two seasons. Aside from Washington, coordinator Brian Schottenheimer also has used quarterback-turned-receiver Brad Smith in the shotgun.
Could there be a "Wildcat" sighting in the near future?
"We're probably a little late on it," Washington said. "Schotty is pretty innovative when it comes to creating plays. You should ask him to do it."
Washington's elusiveness, coupled with Jones' punishing style, would create concerns for a defense. The Raiders will present similar problems with McFadden and Michael Bush or Justin Fargas in the backfield. McFadden, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, has home-run speed. Give him a crack, and he's gone. That's why the Jets liked him so much in the draft, but he was taken two spots before they picked.
Presumably, the Jets are preparing for the "Wildcat."
"I didn't realize that's the coin phrase for any back in the backfield," Eric Mangini said with a laugh. "It's difficult in the sense that you don't prepare for it a lot. You don't see it a lot in pro football, so it's something you have to specifically prepare for."
Said linebacker Calvin Pace: "I'm pretty sure somebody would break out the wishbone if they thought it would work."
INJURY SLOWS PACE: OLB Calvin Pace, third on the Jets with 3-1/2sacks, was limited in practice after hurting his foot. He practiced fully on Wednesday, so presumably the injury occurred Thursday. Mangini wasn't available for comment. OLB Bryan Thomas (calf) also was limited, but he will play Sunday. ... CB Justin Miller, finally at full strength after missing five games with a dislocated toe, will be a game-time decision, according to Mangini. He said it will be based on whether Miller can contribute on special teams. ... PK Mike Nugent (thigh) is out again.
Our time has come! GO JETS!