NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The touchdown-starved Jets insist they’ll turn on the offense once the regular season starts.
New York has received plenty of unwanted attention for their historic inability to punch through the end zone this preseason. They claim they aren’t too concerned, but offensive coordinator Tony Sparano made it clear that they’re not satisfied in any way with the TD drought.
“It’s field goals. We want touchdowns. There’s no question about it,” Sparano said. “Make sure you put that in, like, the headlines. We want touchdowns, not field goals.”
Then there’s the other elephant in the room. It has been shrouded in secrecy for months, a topic too taboo for any players to discuss at length – or in some cases, at all.
It’s the Jets’ wildcat package with Tim Tebow, perhaps the most intriguing and confidential set of plays being prepared in any NFL camp this summer. It’s coming, the touchdown-starved Jets insist, but they won’t say when or how.
“There’s a lot of suspense,” Sanchez said with a sly smile Tuesday. “It’s crazy.”
Picture the scene in “Men in Black” when the agents hold up the neuralyzer to make people forget everything they know. That’s the Jets when it comes to discussing the wildcat package, which hasn’t been used at all in the preseason games.
“It flashes and it’s a mind eraser,” Sanchez said before pausing and then playing along. “Wait, what?”
The Jets (No. 17 in the AP Pro32) have taken a lot of criticism for their preseason touchdown drought, becoming the first team since the 1977 Atlanta Falcons to not reach the end zone through their first three games.
“I think the guys are realists,” he said. “I think the guys can see the improvement. They can see how close they are right now.”
That should ease the minds of antsy Jets fans, who just want to know if the offense will be able to score some points when the games start to actually count. That comes Sept. 9, when New York opens at home against Buffalo – with the Tebow-led wildcat wrinkle possibly sprinkled in.
Or, will it?
“Listen, that’s assuming we’re even going to do any of this stuff, OK, and when we’re going to do it and when we’re going to do it,” Sparano said. “Just because we have a player in the building here that’s had some history running the football – not really in the wildcat, by the way – does not necessarily mean that’s exactly what it is that we’re going to do.”
Oh, the intrigue.
“We know there’s going to be some version of something,” Sparano added.
Even if they do use it a handful of times a game, it probably wouldn’t radically change the Jets’ offense, right?
“Umm, talk to Coach,” Sanchez said, grinning. “I don’t know.”
But, it certainly could be a valuable complement to the conventional offense.
“I think it can help us, yes,” Sanchez said. “Whatever we need.”
Sanchez and the rest of the Jets have been careful not to spill any details of how the wildcat-style package could change things up on offense. It’s been a pretty strange thing, considering that the franchise has been pretty transparent since Rex Ryan took over as coach in 2009. But when it comes to the top-secret Tebow plans – shhh!
“It’s different around here,” Sanchez said, still smiling. “It’s pretty awesome.”
Tebow says there isn’t any spoken agreement to keep everything under wraps to the media and fans, and thinks the attention the situation has gotten is pretty funny.
“There’s not an order,” Tebow said with a laugh. “But we don’t talk about reads or anything about any one play. Guys just don’t do that, so I don’t think it’s any different.”
The fact is, because Tebow is involved, everyone wants to know how he’ll be used. And, most teams in the Jets’ position might treat the plan with the same type of secrecy.
“I don’t know,” Sanchez said. “I just know Coach Sparano wanted that, and that’s what we’re doing.”
But that might be the logical way to go about things, to not let any of the plans leak out to mouth-watering opponents.
“Coach Sparano thinks it’s a good idea, so I think it’s a good idea,” Sanchez said, shaking his head. “Sorry, I’m not trying to be a jerk. I’m sorry.”
Sanchez shrugged his shoulders when asked if there’s a penalty for speaking about the wildcat. But, the bottom line is, now is not the time to empty the playbook. Wildcat or not, it’s still just the preseason.
“For me to go out there and put something out on the field and give somebody a month to prepare for it, I mean, a month,” Sparano said. “No disrespect, but you guys could figure that out in a month. I might have a chance to figure your job out in a month. It’s a month. I mean, it’s a long time. I’m not interested in that.”
And, after all, the offense is going against a defense in practice that many consider to be one of the NFL’s best.
“I mean no disrespect to anybody out there, I really don’t,” Sparano said, “but I think the people we play against everyday are pretty good. I mean, I really do. They’re a pain in the neck to prepare for and they’re good.”
Sparano and Ryan discussed not publicly revealing any of the wildcat plans during the offseason. Tebow will have a large role on the team, and Sparano has been pleased with what he’s seen from the backup quarterback – pointing out some of his better throws in the loss Sunday to Carolina.
So, when someone asked Tebow, who had a terrific 20-yard scramble in the game, about former NFL fullback Merril Hoge’s suggestion that the Jets maybe should use him as a running back, he laughed.
“I’ll take that as a compliment from him, but I’m a quarterback, first and foremost,” Tebow said. “However else I can help the team, I’ll help the team. I think some things are just playing football and I think some things are position specific.”
What do you think the Jets’ Tebow package will look like? Let us know in the comments below!
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