Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos' Wild Cat/Wild Horse Base Offense

Omar BrownCorrespondent IJuly 25, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 14:  NFL quarterback Tim Tebow arrives at the 2010 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 14, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images for ESPY)
Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images

Why are fans and "experts" alike all over this league naming the role Tim Tebow will play the "Wild Cat"?

The Gainesville Sun reports:

'Tebow was recently ranked the third most influential athlete in the nation, according to a poll conducted by Encino (Calif.) E-Poll Market Research.'

Tebow, mind you, is the most decorated quarterback in college football history. Yet people still seem to be confused as to what his role will be in the NFL. 

When Steve Young, Vince Young, David Garrard, and Michael Vick run with the ball, do we refer to the play as a "Wild Cat"?

Why is it then that we are having such a rough time distinguishing the difference between what is and what isn't a Wild Cat play?

This is going to require a trip back down memory lane; to where the wild cat actually sprung its roots.

But before we go, I must digress and share a story.

My wife and I love retro relics; she and I bought a rotary phone. We had no idea how much fun it would be watching this generation fumble cluelessly to make it work.

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My daughter Rachel (17) exclaimed, "this phone doesn't work!" The expression on her face when we showed her how, was priceless, and the same thing occurred with her best friend, Amanda.

I bring this up because it seems that far too many people are clueless as to what exactly the Wild Cat base offense is.

When football first emerged on the scene, the formation that was the most popular, and remained so for 50 years, was a rugby-like formation in which the running back (H-back) would have the ball snapped to him.

The end of the Wild Cat era, was marked by the 1940 NFL championship game as the Washington Redskins by the legendary coach George Halas' Chicago Bears. The final score in that game: 73–0.

This formation was called the Single Wing base offense. After 10 years the Kansas State University "Wildcats" reintroduced the Single Wing base offense to the modern era.

Since then, the Miami Dolphins resurrected it in the NFL at the end of the 2008 season. Now we see it in both leagues with variant titles.

It was called the "Wildhog" by the University of Arkansas when runningback Darren McFadden was receiving the snap and now we see it referred to as the "Wild Horse" in Denver.

"There is nothing new in the world, except the history you don't know." -Harry Truman

"No, the Wild Horse is different—it's a different element for us. It's a little different than the Wildcat and if we were using the Wild Horse package, which we certainly used some last year, it would certainly be a halfback back there and it would likely be Knowshon [Moreno] or [Correll Buckhalter ]."

There is a popular school of thought that suggests that if Tebow were actually incorporated in a special package, it would no doubt be a short yardage option.

But make no mistake about it, when McDaniels says that "Tim's got some unique skills and there's certainly no boundary on what we may try to do with any of our skill players, and Tim may allow us to do some things a little differently."

McDaniels continued, "we're going to experiment a little bit with a lot of different things in terms of our system, and we've made a lot of different changes both offensively and defensively and we'll see how Tim factors in."

He is not referring to Tebows running skills; Tebow has a cannon and he can deliver a 50-60 yard strike down the field on a frozen rope just ten yards off the ground. This makes Tebow unique to the Starting QB the Broncos now have listed on their depth chart.

“Maybe for a player like that, you change your offense instead of trying to change him,” John Gruden said.

Gruden and McDaniels are really trying to say that the Broncos will be a different team when they start out the season playing two quarterbacks.

This is something that has been frowned upon up to this point, but the controversial cutting edge brand of Josh McDaniels, who does not strictly adhere to conventional wisdom, could make the revolving QB door in vogue just like the retro Single wing has all of a sudden been.

The only way Tebows gets his hands on the ball in the “Wild Cat is if he finds himself down the field looking to make a reception after being lined up as a wide receiver or tight end.

Or Tebow can get it on a reverse for the option to pass, run, or pitch it back again. Then again he could also be lined up as an H-back or F-Back for that matter.

All the gimmicky, fancy, trickery plays associated with the Single Wing is what makes it so amazing to watch, especially when you see the entire defense of the opponent being thrown off guard to one side of the field while the ball is on the other.

The trickery involved with the Single Wing formation has of late thrown off a lot of fans as well as “experts” in regards to distinguishing the difference between it and the modern day formation’s which have the quarterback over center.

Tim Tebow, contrary to what experts such as Jimmy Johnson and Mel Kiper believe, will not be an H-back or tight end in this league. Tebow is a quarterback.

"He's a quarterback," McDaniels explained. "That's all he's going to do."

With all the options defenses face in regards to the execution of the "Wild Horse" opponents this season will have their hands full on any given play looking at each other and asking themselves, "hey, where did the ball go?"

This while Tebow is ecstatically jumping up and down in the back of the opponents end zone with the ball in his hands winking and saying "hi mom" to the NFL cameras in front of his home team crowd. Just like he did when he broke Hershal Walkers rushing TD record in the Gator Bowl.

Who knows, this time it could be a touchdown reception. That's the beauty of the wild horse; it will keep everyone guessing. Just like they are now, trying to figure out what the heck Josh McDaniels is up too.


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