With the 2011 season on the line in Washington, Rex Ryan unveiled off all things, the Wildcat formation. Doing so with speedster Jeremy Kerley and Shonn Greene at the helm. The results were a success at times, other times not so much. Looking deeper into the message this surprising ploy may have sent, the bigger question is whether or not this wrinkle was a game day stunt or permanent December addition. Further, what are the advantages of continuing the use of the Wildcat if it IS here to stay?
The idea reached the peak as the Jets closed out the Redskins with a direct snap play to Shonn Greene, who rambled into the end zone in the closing minutes at Fed Ex field.
Perhaps its use in the Jets overall offensive gameplan going in, was to function more than as just a measure to slow down the Redskins pass rush. The Skins, ranked 3rd in the NFL in sacks with 33 heading into the contest, were a threat to the shaky Jets pass protection.
By adding some plays to the ground game Gang Green not only neutralized the Skins attack up front, they also allowed Kerley and Joe McKnight (who lined up as RB when Kerley took the snap), the fastest skill position Jets, a few more chances to make plays.
In addition, by adding run plays, the Jets helped minimize more passing attempts from Mark Sanchez. A player who thrives late in games but has, to his detriment, contributed to uphill climbs in 2011, by throwing into traffic prior to the final quarter of games.
Going forward, the Jets might want consider the Wildcat as a package against the rest of their schedule.
The Jets average 24.2 points a game and give up 21.7. Their margin for error is small. However, it is one that, when matched up against their final four opponents, bodes well, should they be able to keep living up to their own numbers.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Jets remaining opponents:
Kansas City Chiefs: 13.9 scoring, 22.3 allowed
Philadelphia Eagles: 22.6 scoring 23.5 allowed
New York Giants: 22.9 scoring 26.2 allowed
Miami Dolphins: 20.5 scoring 18.5 allowed
While it is fair to say that these are year long numbers that are not based on recent trends to highlight backups Vince Young, Matt Moore, and Tyler Palko at the helm on offense for their respective clubs (to which only Moore has helped improve production from the injured starter), the stats still show that the Jets on average, outscore all four opponents.
By limiting opportunities for the other team to score more than THEIR average, the Jets will be in every game for the rest of the season. The Wildcat works if it cuts down on turnovers. It thrives if it delivers solid gains and of course touchdowns.
Don’t be surprised to see it stick around. For more reasons than just trickery, or the hope that it springs big plays from the line of scrimmage.