Donovan McNabb Discusses Jets' Use of Michael Vick, Wildcat Formation

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 13, 2014

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Former Philadelphia Eagles star quarterback Donovan McNabb sees trouble brewing under center for the New York Jets, and he offered some words of warning in a recent interview.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, McNabb, now a Fox Sports analyst, is a huge opponent of the Wildcat offense and believes the Jets would be a doing a disservice to both Geno Smith and Michael Vick if they decide to implement it in 2014:

The Jets tried this whole garbage with Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez and it got them nowhere. 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.

Smith is entering his second year in the league and looks to have the starting job to himself. Vick is a capable veteran backup who has had a great deal of success at the NFL level, so it is obvious why the Jets are interested in integrating him into the offense. At the same time, it also means that Smith will always be looking over his shoulder to some degree.

McNabb was in the exact same situation with Vick as his backup in 2009. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg utilized Vick in a Wildcat capacity then, and he is apparently looking to use Vick in a similar manner with the Jets. 

Even though McNabb is five years removed from that particular offensive wrinkle, he still holds ill feelings toward it:

I didn't agree with the whole deal. I think it messes up the flow of any offense. . . . I thought most of the trick plays that we ran, we could have done in our normal base offense. Of course, I wanted Mike to have an opportunity to get out on the field . . . (but) when you have an established quarterback (like me) . . . no one would have asked Peyton Manning or Tom Brady to do that.

Smith is clearly nowhere near the level of Manning, Brady or even McNabb, but it is easy to see why there is concern about how the Wildcat might impact the second-year man's psyche.

Despite that, even Smith himself is open to the idea of getting Vick on the field and running some Wildcat plays for the potential betterment of the team, per Brian Costello of the New York Post.

"It's definitely something to look into," Smith said. "I don't know how much we'll do it or if we'll do it at all, but every time he's on the field he brings that run-pass option."

Like McNabb, though, ESPN's Skip Bayless is among those who believe that the Wildcat would do more harm than good for the Jets:

Running some Wildcat sets last year was somewhat justifiable since Smith was a rookie and didn't have much in terms of playmaking talent around him. Smith now has a true No. 1 receiver in Eric Decker and a former 2,000-yard rusher in Chris Johnson, which makes trickery unnecessary.

Also, Vick is a great insurance policy for Smith should he get injured or play ineffectively. Using Vick in a Wildcat role would leave him susceptible to injuries since there would be plenty of designed runs.

Truth be told, the Wildcat has had very little positive impact on the NFL aside from the 2008 Miami Dolphins' use of the formation. The league has figured out how to defend it, and there is much more downside than upside on the horizon for the Jets should they choose to utilize it.


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