CORTLAND, N.Y. (AP) — Bart Scott knows some people think all of this Tim Tebow and wildcat offense talk is pretty funny.
The chatty linebacker insists the New York Jets will have the last laugh.
“It’s a butt of a joke for a lot of people, but we understand what it does for us,” Scott said Sunday. “We understand the advantage that it gives us. Whenever you have to prepare for things that may or may not happen, it stretches your defense. It stretches your mental capacity and it takes one more time for one person to say, “Hey, I don’t have a check.”
Scott knows from experience after having had to deal with Tebow and wildcat offenses in the past. One of the low moments of the Jets’ disappointing season a year ago was Tebow’s 95-yard winning drive against them in Denver in November — capped by a 20-yard touchdown run on New York’s all-out blitz.
Of course, Tebow was a starting quarterback back then, and now he’s the backup to Mark Sanchez with the Jets. But coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano plan to use Tebow quite a bit in the offense. Just how they’ll do that hasn’t yet become clear, although they say a wildcat-style package in which he’s featured will be installed.
The Jets used one when they had quarterback-turned-receiver Brad Smith for a few years, but Tebow brings a different element to the package.
“We were very efficient in running the wildcat,” Ryan said. “When you bring in a guy like Tim, as much as I love Brad, Brad can’t bring you the inside game that Tim can give you, and Tim can throw the ball a little better than Brad. Those are things that are really positive to me.”
Another is the fact that, according to Scott, the defense normally has an advantage when an offense runs the wildcat because the quarterback isn’t usually accounted for.
“So, essentially, it’s 11 on 10,” he said. “When your quarterback is carrying the ball, it’s 11 on 11, so all it takes is for one guy to get cut off and not make a tackle. I think I’ll take my chances with Tim running the ball against one guy making a bad step and getting caught behind and not being able to make the play.”
While many fans and media wonder if Tebow and Sanchez will be able to truly co-exist on the field, Scott says the team has no doubt they will.
“I mean, I think it’s something fun for you guys to deal with, but we understand the plan,” he said. “We understand how tough the wildcat, having an athlete out there on the field with the ball in his hands at all times is because we had to defend the wildcat. We somewhat created a bit of a wildcat when we had Leon Washington. We took it to a different level when we had Brad Smith. We understand the pressure that not only it puts on our defense, but other defenses. If I say our defense has been in the top six since I’ve been in the NFL, what’s it going to do to the 24th-ranked defense? Or the 30th-ranked defense? It causes problems.”
When Sparano was the coach in Miami, the Dolphins used a wildcat-style package with running back Ronnie Brown and backup quarterback Pat White.
“What’s always been a weakness of the wildcat formation is that Ronnie Brown couldn’t throw the ball, Pat White was too small to take the pounding,” Scott said. “So now, when you put in a guy that can take the pounding and can throw the ball, most people when they make a check to the wildcat, it’s a generic edge blitz, one high safety. Well, now you expose your guys down on the field because guys have to cover 1-on-1, and you have eight guys sitting there in protection. Now what are you going to do?”
Off the field, Scott has been impressed by how Tebow has handled his immense popularity. While the face of the franchise remains Sanchez and the best player is cornerback Darrelle Revis, neither has the rock star-type following that Tebow has.
“I mean, it’s humility,” Scott said. “How can you ever not accept somebody who has humility, who works hard, who’s a great teammate? I mean, I knew Tebow well before he came here and he showed me the respect to seek me out, ask me how to be a better pro. I mean, guys don’t do that. You see the cameras that follow him. Half of you guys wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t here. But, he takes it all in stride and it never affects his relationship with his teammates.
“We all understand that it comes with the territory, and we’re able to deal with it. It’s New York. We can handle anything.”
After Tebow’s shirtless jog through the rain after practice Saturday created an instant buzz on Twitter, YouTube and all types of websites, he took some razzing from his teammates in stride — and sat in a quarterbacks meeting for 30 minutes without wearing a shirt.
“Like I told Tim, I’ve never seen anybody decide to take their shirt off in the rain,” Scott said, drawing laughs. “Usually, I put stuff on. Maybe it was holy water, I don’t know.”
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