ESPN has reported that New York Jets' backup quarterback Tim Tebow will not play in their final preseason game. Usually the final preseason game is an opportunity for the backup quarterback and the second-string offense to get playing time and experience together.
In fact, head coach Rex Ryan does not plan to expose his new Wildcat offense to the world at all during the preseason. Ryan and the Jets' coaching staff apparently feel that the element of surprise will be to their advantage this season.
Rather than show their offense to other teams and use the opportunity to practice it, they have chosen to do essentially nothing in the preseason. They have rested key starters and made no use of the new offense implemented by offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.
The notion that secrecy has value in the NFL has been called "ridiculous" by some in the media. We will not find out until Week 1 of the regular season whether or not it has served any purpose.
There are a few things we can learn from the stance of Rex Ryan and the Jets' staff.
The Jets' management does not care about the media
The Jets have taken extreme criticism during the preseason for their offense. They have the only offense that has not yet scored a touchdown. Interestingly, many media reports have failed to mention the fact that the complete inactivity on offense has been a conscious choice.
Does secrecy have value to an NFL offense?
For better or worse, it is clear that the Jets' management is only interested in winning football games this year and does not care how the media feels.
Playing all their starters for one quarter of a preseason game or running a handful of aggressive plays would likely quiet a lot of the outrage. However, that is apparently not a priority for them.
The Jets' coaching staff feels Tebow does not need to practice the Wildcat
Rex Ryan has vowed to take more responsibility for the Jets offense this year. He was disappointed in 2011 with the work of former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
The Jets will be making use of the Wildcat offense this year, which is why they acquired Tebow. However, it appears they will not use it for even one play during the preseason, favoring secrecy over preparedness. Said Tebow:
We had a few live reps in practice, but I’ve ran that stuff before so I’ve had reps in my life at it.
Tebow feels confident in his abilities to run the Wildcat without significant further practice. The Jets' coaching staff apparently agrees. Jets fans should hope it does not look rusty in Week 1.
Rex Ryan trusts Tony Sparano
While Ryan has expressed optimism about the potential of Sparano's offense, he has not allowed details to leak to the media. Implementing a completely new offense is a big task and one that requires effort and practice. Without seeing it in action in real games, it is very hard to know how it will pan out.
Rex Ryan must have a lot of trust in his new offensive coordinator, because he is letting Sparano design this new offense essentially in a vacuum, with no live tests in the preseason. Whether the new offense will be ground-and-pound, more reliant on passes and play action, or heavy on the Wildcat is unknown.
No one can say what the offense will look like in Week 1. However, by going into the game somewhat blind, Rex Ryan is placing a lot of trust in Tony Sparano. Some might say too much trust.