Wildcat Presents Challenges … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

Miami RB Ronnie Brown throws from the Wildcat offense.

Mike Vrabel remembers thinking “what is this?”

Vrabel was lined up at outside linebacker last year with the New England Patriots as they played the Miami Dolphins in Foxboro on September 21, 2008.

Suddenly, there was something not quite right with the Dolphins offense. RB Ronnie Brown was lining up in the shot gun behind the center and quarterback Chad Pennington was … was … where the hell was he?

That day was when the so called Wildcat offense made its debut in the NFL. Other teams had shown those types of plays, including the Chiefs who under offensive coordinator Chan Gailey were working similar ideas all through last year’s off-season and training camp.

What made this different was how successful the Dolphins were with the new offensive wrinkle, plus who they ran the plays against. There were six direct snaps to Brown in this game and four ended in Miami touchdowns, including a 62-yard scoring run by Brown. The Dolphins won 38-13. The outcome ended a 21-game regular-season winning streak for the Patriots.

“It was something that we as players and coaches were totally unprepared for,” Vrabel recalled Wednesday in the Chiefs locker room. “It caught us by surprise. We certainly hadn’t worked on it. They continued to hurt us during that game with those plays.

“We were better the next time we saw it.”

The Wildcat has become the tag added to a series of plays where somebody other than the quarterback takes the snap from center. Sometimes the quarterback is still on the field, lined up at wide receiver, ala Tyler Thigpen last year when he caught a touchdown pass against Tampa Bay from WR Mark Bradley. Other times, the quarterback goes to the sideline.

Running backs and wide receivers are the players who have gotten the snaps. Last Sunday, the Eagles ran nine plays of the Wildcat with snaps to RB Brian Westbrook, WR Jeremy Maclin and WR DeSean Jackson. That was without Michael Vick. The disgraced quarterback will be on the field this Sunday against the Chiefs, after serving a two-season, two-game suspension. His availability figures to add more wrinkles to the Philly version of the Wildcat.

It’s understandable why the Patriots may have been discombobulated when first seeing the Wildcat. But the element of surprise is now gone. So what’s the big deal about stopping these plays?

“If you are assignment sound, then there’s no big deal,” said Vrabel. “It gives you different looks back there and there are some adjustments you have to make. For teams that can run it effectively, it’s a good change up for them.”

Ultimately the trait that makes the Wildcat successful is that it forces the defense to think first, rather than react. That’s what makes the prep so important for the defense.

“We will have our plan and we’ll go over it and review all the keys,” said FS Jarrad Page. “That’s all we can do. If everybody does what they are supposed to do, then it’s just another play.”

So when a running back like Westbrook lines up to take the snap, does the defense view him as a running back or a quarterback?

“A guy like Westbrook, you view him as a running back,” said Vrabel. “If it’s a toss sweep look, then he can obviously throw the ball. He’s going to hurt you a lot more running the ball than throwing the ball.”

Chiefs head coach Todd Haley calls it the Wildcat Wave, as more and more teams have gone to similar plays.

“This off-season … we did an extensive study on any wildcat we saw in the last two years including stuff I had run in the past,” Haley said. “That’s the wave right now, this wildcat wave. We spent a lot of time as a defensive staff and even as an offensive staff trying to be as prepared as we could for some of those things. Obviously, on game day it’s being ready for whatever tweaks they’ve made to it.”

Once the surprise element is gone, why is the Wildcat still successful? It’s either a running play or a passing play; it hasn’t revolutionized the game. Haley says it’s a matter of the talent participating in the Wildcat plays.

“You have some big time athletes that are handling the football and if they are confident enough to handle the football, that’s the key to it,” Haley said. “You have some big-time running backs, that’s not their thing. They’ve got to run the cadence, handle shot gun snaps, quick decisions.

“When you get a big-time athlete that is able to make multiple decisions and run the team, it’s a great challenge. There are two or three options generally on those plays, run, run to run and run to pass. There are formational issues. How do you cover the quarterback if he’s in there? There’s a lot to be figured out in a short period of time.”

That time wasn’t there a year ago for Vrabel and his Patriots teammates. Playing for Bill Belichick, they were not used to being so unprepared for an opponent.

“Even after we saw it, we couldn’t slow it down and they still gashed us for some plays, some big plays,” said Vrabel. “It wasn’t a good feeling.”

SIGNINGS, INJURIES & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE

  • BILLS – placed TE Derek Schouman on the injured-reserve list; promoted TE Jonathan Stupar to the active roster from the practice squad.
  • BUCCANEERS – signed S Corey Lynch and CB Marcus Hamilton.
  • CHARGERS – C Nick Hardwick underwent surgery on his left ankle on Wednesday and is out until December.
  • COLTS – released TE Tom Santi; signed LB Jordan Senn.
  • JAGUARS – promoted WR Tiquan Underwood to the active roster from the practice squad.
  • JETS – promoted CB Marquice Cole to the active roster from the practice squad; released TE Matthew Mulligan.
  • PACKERS – signed S Matt Giordano; released S Aaron Rouse.
  • TEXANS – placed G Chester Pitts on the injured-reserve list (knee).
  • TITANS – signed P Reggie Hodges; released CB Cary Williams.

FROM THE PAGES OF CHIEFS HISTORY

On September 24, 1961, the Dallas Texans beat the Oakland Raiders 42-35 at Candlestick Park (right). A crowd of just 6,700 saw the Raiders jump to a 20-14 lead at half-time, but the Texans racked up 28 points in the second half. Dallas scored six touchdowns, with RB Johnny Robinson scoring twice, on a 68-yard pass from QB Cotton Davidson and a 13-yard run. RB Abner Haynes caught a 47-yard TD pass from QB Randy Duncan, WR Chris Burford caught a 31-yard scoring throw from Davidson, RB Jack Spikes scored on a 30-yard run and FB Bo Dickinson hit the end zone on a 1-yard run. Burford caught six passes for 101 yards. Spikes ran for 71 yards on nine carries.

On September 24, 1967, the Chiefs beat the Dolphins 24-0 at the Orange Bowl in Miami. QB Len Dawson threw a pair of TD passes, going 34 yards to RB Mike Garrett and 57 yards to WR Otis Taylor. RB Bert Coan had a 2-yard TD run and Jan Stenerud added a 21-yard FG. The Chiefs defense allowed just 168 total offensive yards and forced five turnovers, while the offense ran for 252 yards. Garrett led the KC rushers with 133 yards on 20 carries.

On September 24, 1978, the Chiefs fell in overtime to the Denver Broncos 23-17 at Arrowhead Stadium. In overtime, the Chiefs faced a 4th-and-2 from the Denver 40-yard line and decided to go for the first down. RB Tony Reed hit the right side and the Denver defense hit him. Reed said afterwards he got the first down, but officials ruled otherwise and the Broncos took over. It was 13 plays later that RB Dave Preston scored on a one-yard TD run for the victory. The Chiefs got touchdowns from Reed on a 15-yard run and QB Mike Livingston on a one-yard run. K Jan Stenerud had a 46-yard FG.

On September 24, 2000, the Chiefs beat the Broncos 23-22 at Mile High Stadium in Denver. The Chiefs got on the scoreboard first on a one-yard TD run by FB Tony Richardson. In the third quarter, QB Elvis Grbac threw a 15-yard TD pass to TE Tony Gonzalez and later hit one for 22 yards to WR Derrick Alexander. Gonzalez finished the game with 10 catches for 127 yards. LB Marvcus Patton had an INT of Denver QB Gus Frerotte and S Greg Wesley had an INT.

SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

Born on September 24, 1975 in Provo, Utah was OT Kyle Turley. He joined the Chiefs in 2006 after sitting out two seasons because of injuries. Turley began his career with five seasons with New Orleans and one year with St. Louis. He spent two seasons with the Chiefs (2006-07), appearing in 14 games. Turley played in 109 games over his eight-year career.


23 Responses to “Wildcat Presents Challenges … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • September 24, 2009  - Harold C. says:

    I guess everybody is expecting the Eagles to run the Wildcat offense here and there. So what are the chances that the Chiefs try some of these Wildcat plays themselves?


  • September 24, 2009  - arrowhead1978 says:

    I am a negative person. I have nothing constructive to say. I also like to lie in bed with men and caress their ears until they fall asleep. Any massage I give a man ends with a “happy ending”. I am cursed with chronic explosive, sock-browning diarrhea. The doctors have said that if I would stop drinking it as soon as I’ve passed it, the vicious cycle would stop, but I’m so used to being full of sh*t, I wouldn’t know what to do if I did.

    Herm is the man. Rin is MY man. Hands off, boys!


  • September 24, 2009  - Anonymous says:

    Defense boils down to one simple thing – tackling. If you can tackle the guy with the football, then the Wildcat presents no bigger problem than any other play. Easier said than done, though.


  • September 24, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    I am a negative person. I have nothing constructive to say. I also like to lie in bed with men and caress their ears until they fall asleep. Any massage I give a man ends with a “happy ending”. I am cursed with chronic explosive, sock-browning diarrhea. The doctors have said that if I would stop drinking it as soon as I’ve passed it, the vicious cycle would stop, but I’m so used to being full of sh*t, I wouldn’t know what to do if I did.


  • September 24, 2009  - Alexthe"GREAT" says:

    Pollard 2 the Texans he will flourish ther!


  • September 24, 2009  - Justin D says:

    Enough of the preemptive comments to Rin. Just post your thoughts on the Chiefs or YOU clutter this site like HE does.

    “don’t wrestle with a pig because you just get muddy and the pig enjoys it.”


  • September 24, 2009  - el cid says:

    Hope Pollard does well, he is a good kid.

    I think the Chiefs are not ready for the NFC East yet. Some guys are still figuring out who is on either side of them much less how they will move when the ball is snapped. It is sort of like a first year HS team, the fans and parents are in the stands, the cheerleaders shaking their pompoms, and Rockhurst steps out on the field.


  • September 24, 2009  - arrowhead1978 says:

    Rockhurst? So you mean the first year HS team gets anally raped by the Hawklets? Do you know why they don’t have stairs at Rockhurst? Because fairies have wings!!!


  • September 24, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Today’s 3 for 1 great deal on Rin Manna -

    1)
    Aaaaaaaaand, yet ANOTHER Herm’s Chief signs with another NFL team: Bernard Pollard to the Houston Texans – POLLARD I SAY!

    And our score:

    HERM’S CHIEFS 7 – :roll: & :shock: same 0 for 19 signed & released that have caught on elsewhere…

    :lol:

    - – - – -

    2)
    The wildcat? I see your wildcat and raise you Marv Levy’s Wing-T! Reed, Bailey 7 Mcknight on the attack circa 1978!

    :cool: daddy-o

    - – - – -

    3)
    SUNDAY’S FINAL SCORE:

    PHIL 38 – chiefs 13

    ;-)


  • September 24, 2009  - Uncuffed says:

    Good for Pollard. I’m a little surprised that it took so long, but then again we shouldn’t be fooled by players that “started” for Herm, since Herm never made anyone earn their spot, rather he just handed them out based on age and draft position. Lame.


  • September 24, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    ‘search’ & ‘check’ now 0 for 6 nee 0 for 2009 soon 0 for 20 as in 0 forever and ‘you’re both fired!’

    :lol: & :shock: = “lame”

    heh heh heh!

    :lol: & :razz:


  • September 24, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    See, even ‘check’ is laughing at himself & ‘search’ now…why, he almost looks as good as Rin, alas he can’t coach as good as me!

    :cool: daddy-o


  • September 24, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Today’s 3 for 1 stupid rant by Rin Manna -

    1)
    Aaaaaaaaand, yet ANOTHER Herm’s Chief signs with another NFL team: Bernard Pollard to the Houston Texans – POLLARD I SAY!

    And our score:

    HERM’S CHIEFS 4 – :roll: & :shock: same 4 for 19 signed & released that have caught on elsewhere…

    :lol:

    - – – – -

    2)
    I am not funny, I should not try to be.

    :cool: daddy-o

    - – – – -

    3)
    SUNDAY’S FINAL SCORE:

    my uneducated opinion means nothing

    :cool: imafag


  • September 24, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Aaaaaaaaand I should probably euthanize myself, for the betterment of humanity

    heh, heh, heh!

    :lol:


  • September 24, 2009  - arrowhead1978 says:

    Well Pollard should do well in the Texans system, he wasn’t the worst safety in the league, just had his moments…


  • September 24, 2009  - arrowhead1978 says:

    I’m the worst poster in the league though. Bring on the diarrhea!


  • September 24, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    I’m the worst poster in the league though. Bring on the diarrhea!


  • September 24, 2009  - Jorge says:

    Aaaaaaaaand I should probably euthanize myself, for the betterment of humanity

    heh, heh, heh!

    :lol:


  • September 24, 2009  - Jorge says:

    I’m the worst poster in the league though. Bring on the diarrhea!


  • September 24, 2009  - SG says:

    “I really like the attitude of this team. At some point, when it comes together (I should be specific now, the OL), this team will explode on somebody.”

    A hearty welcome back sir. How long do you think it will take for this line to show sufficient improvement where we won’t be in fear for Cassel’s health each week?


  • September 24, 2009  - Jorge says:

    SG your post suggest you suffer from explosive sock browning diarrhea.


  • September 24, 2009  - larry says:

    don’t you mean suggesteth?




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