As I've said before, I can't stop thinking about the Wildcat. I'm an X's and O's guy. Not, you know, like this guy, who actually knows what he's talking about, but in the sense that I really like this stuff.
(And if you follow that link, I can't be held responsible if you don't get any work done today. Here's another one of his posts on NYT.com.)
Anyway, a few weeks ago I put up a post about where I think the Wildcat is headed in the long-term for this team. (Short version: The role of Mike Vick will be played by Daryll Clark.)
That's all well and good, but right now we care a bit more about the current season than we do next year's draft. And I've got a thought on that. But first, let's set the stage.
Sunday will be Vick's second game back since the end of the 2006 season, but it will be his first regular-season game playing alongside McNabb. McNabb made comments about the Vick Wildcat plays disrupting the rhythm after the third preseason game against the Jaguars.
"I'm fine with it," McNabb said yesterday. "I said I was fine with it before. I think a lot of things get blown way out of proportion when something new occurs."
Just because McNabb grew impatient with the Eagles' Wildcatting around with Michael Vick back in the third preseason game, Aug. 27, that doesn't mean McNabb will see it as an intrusion this week, when McNabb and Vick take the field together for the first time in the regular season.
"I'm fine with it. I said I was fine with it before. A lot of things get blown out of proportion, when something new occurs," said McNabb, who is scheduled to play Sunday against Tampa Bay, his first action since suffering a broken rib in the season opener. "We've been at this thing for, I believe the last 6 weeks . . . There's a trial period, there's a transition period, and I think we're at a point right now where we see the different things we can do with it. I'm excited about it.
McNabb endorsed Vick's signing, but complained during a preseason game that the Eagles' heavy use of Vick and the wildcat formation disrupted the offense. He insisted on Wednesday he was fine with the offense if it helped them win.
"The fun thing about it is we haven't even touched the surface of what we will do with it," McNabb said. "It's something that's going to benefit us and put pressure on defenses."
Bowen has that last quote starting with "The funny thing," which probably makes more sense. Anyway, the really funny thing here is that no one has yet brought up the biggest reason McNabb is fine with the Wildcat.
He's going to be running it.
Reid hinted at this a few weeks ago when he had his little hissy fit about how the Eagles ran the Wildcat 12 times against the Saints, not nine. He counted three plays from the package where Kevin Kolb stayed in as the quarterback. And then of course last week we had the play that Vick came in, but actually ran the base offense.
If Mike Vick, Kevin Kolb, DeSean Jackson, Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin are running the "Wildcat" for this team, Donovan McNabb is going to be running it too.
Now, obviously, it's going to look a little different with McNabb. We're probably not going to have him running too many direct-snap sweeps. Nor should Marty Mornhinweg keep his job if he has McNabb running an outside option that gets him tattooed by a defensive end (most defensives would trade 10 yards for a free shot on McNabb any time you want to make that deal).
But you know how everyone keeps saying the Eagles haven't even scratched the surface of what the package contains? I think McNabb's going to be doing a lot of that scratching (good thing he's going to us-- never mind).
For the next few weeks, as McNabb's ribs are getting back to normal, they're going to be a little more careful with him. But once he's healthy and those divisional games start, watch out.
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Bonus Wildcat point: One reason the Eagles keep running the ball so effectively from this formation is that opposing defenses seem awfully hesitant to commit the in-box personnel needed to stop it. A lot of times they're even keeping two safeties back.
The idea seems to be that they'll live with a few nice runs as long as they don't give up touchdowns. If that continues, you could really argue we should be running it more.