Every time former NFL quarterback and current NFL analyst Donovan McNabb is critical of active quarterbacks or the systems they play in, we inevitably think of stones and glass houses. But McNabb was spot-on in his recent criticism of the mere notion that the New York Jets might use the Wildcat offense with Michael Vick in 2014.
“The Jets tried this whole garbage with Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez and it got them nowhere,” McNabb told the New York Daily News. “In the situation now, I think it takes away from what Geno Smith can do. It’s a maturity process for him to try to develop into an NFL quarterback. Now you’re taking him off the field or splitting him wide to bring in a 34-year-old quarterback? To do what? I understand the ‘wow’ effect, but it’s not a good thing for either quarterback.”
If you’re detecting that this is a little personal for McNabb, that’s because it is. He himself was thrown out of his rhythm as the Philadelphia Eagles implemented Wildcat features with Vick on board back in 2009, and it was at about that point when we were ready to conclude that the system had jumped the shark.
Look, kudos to the Miami Dolphins for having some success with it in 2008, but let’s remember that Miami finished below the league average with 21.6 points per game that season before going one-and-done in the playoffs. Defenses wised up quickly and the attack was solved by defensive coordinators before it even became an earnest trend in this silly copycat league.
Even then, when smart defensive minds like Bill Belichick saw the Wildcat, they laughed. Proof of that came when New England smothered Ronnie Brown and the Miami Wildcat attack in Week 12 of that season, limiting the Wildcat to only 27 total yards.
The reality is that it’s not worth disrupting your offensive rhythm and exposing your backup quarterback to injury, especially if both quarterbacks remain on the field. That last aspect of the Wildcat is the dumbest of all, because you’re essentially working with only four true threats on the field, as opposed to five.
The Wildcat was a fad. Time to move on.