Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cattin' Around, And Other Stuff

Miami uses it extensively, and they've had some success with it.

It is the Wildcat formation, a bit of trickery where the quarterback often splits out and either a backup quarterback or a position player takes a direct shotgun snap from center and runs a single-wing type option play. It's something the Giants are going to have to be leery of Sunday because the Eagles run it. Not to the extent that Miami does, of course. Nobody runs it as frequently as the Dolphins.

But the Eagles can use a tremendous mix of players in the formation. Donovan McNabb's backup Michael Vick is the main guy, but they can also throw WR DeSean Jackson, RB LeSean McCoy, and RB Brian Westbrook into it, just to name a few.

Unlike the Dolphins, who basically run out of it, the Eagles will also put it in the air. So it becomes a true run-pass option for them.

"I think different people utilize it in different ways," Tom Coughlin said. "So for what purpose I can’t tell you what their thinking is. Although when you look at the effect that it has had on the Miami offense you certainly can appreciate it.

"And when you see the various ways in which Philadelphia goes about doing it – not all on the same week – but you know that there is a plan there for what they are trying to take advantage of having thrown the ball out of it, too. Michael Vick gives you a little bit more that you have to defend."

Coughlin said the Eagles don't use it to an extent where it would get them away from their basic offensive pattern. But it's not something to be taken lightly by the defense, either.

"You stop the guy that's carrying the ball, that's all you can do," DE Justin Tuck said. "Just about everybody in the league is running it. It creates more gaps because there's more blockers in that system, but we'll practice against it. We know they're going to do it, some hopefully we'll have something ready for it."

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said the Wildcat hasn't brought them the explosiveness people had originally hoped. But it's still a work in progress.

"There hasn’t been that much of a success that everyone was expecting in the so-called wildcat offense," McNabb said. "People see Miami doing it and all of a sudden think that everyone is going to have the same success. Well, it takes time. And it is not like you have a no-name guy back there when you bring (Vick) in.

"Everyone knows what he is capable of doing. And they focus in on that. And I think there will be a lot of successful plays that we have in that package. Yet still in the regular offense we have to make sure that we are creating plays as well."

Tuck said discipline is the key to defending it.

"Just be gap-sound," Tuck said. "The thing about the Wildcat is that there's extra blocking, so there's extra gaps. You gotta get off blocks fast and try to get penetration in the backfield. Just disrupt their rhythm."

He's ready for anybody to get back there for the direct snap, too.

"They've got a lot of guys who can do it, so I don't think I'll be surprised by anybody who gets back there," Tuck said. "I think I can name five off the top of my head. With the weapons they have, the only surprise would be what they do out of it. They can do reverse passes, handoffs, fake handoffs, drop back to pass. They can do a lot of things off it. But the surprise won't be the guy who's back there.

"They can definitely catch us off-guard with trickery here, trickery there."
The only question is who will be healthy enough besides Vick. Westbrook is still dealing with his concussion and did not practice. Since he was knocked out, it is unlikely he'll play Sunday. Jackson, who sprained his foot while becoming only the second Eagle in history to run and catch a pass for touchdowns of more than 50 yards in the same game, also sat out practice, though coach Andy Reid said he would probably play.

But even with Vick alone, who hasn't exactly seen stellar success with the Wildcat -- he's run nine times for 22 yards -- there is enough to change a game's momentum with a well-placed gimmick.

It's something the defense will have to be aware of, at least.

WR Hakeem Nicks was named the NFL Rookie of the Month for his October production. In addition to his four touchdown catches in four games, he caught 14 passes for 297 yards.

Nicks is tied for the NFL rookie lead in touchdown receptions. He is the first Giants rookie to score touchdowns in four consecutive games since Bob Gaiters scored in five straight games in 1961. Nicks is the first Giants rookie with a touchdown reception in four consecutive games since Bill Swiacki in ‘48. In addition, Nicks is the first NFL rookie with a touchdown catch in four straight games since Buffalo’s Lee Evans in 2004.

Nicks has recorded TD catches of 62, 54 and 37 yards and is the only rookie in the NFL with three 30+ yard touchdown receptions. For the season, Nicks has 16 receptions for 315 yards (a team-high 19.7-yard average). The 315 yards are second among all NFL rookies, behind only Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace (368), and the 19.7-yard average is the highest in the NFL among rookies with at least 10 catches.

Add LB Antonio Pierce to the injury list. He sat out practice with an ankle injury, but he'll likely be fine for Sunday. Also, RB Ahmad Bradshaw went to North Carolina to have his bad ankle and foot checked out by noted ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson. No word yet on the outcome of that visit.


1 comment:

  1. This Dr. in North Carolina is the dr James Andrews of feet. I'm not afraid of the wildcat one bit. Vick is doesn't have nearly the legs he had before the pen.