To get a great feel for what we can expect to see out of the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers this week, about the last thing that we want to do is analyze games between these two teams in the past. Instead, we are going to want to take a look at what the Denver Broncos and what Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano has had a history of doing against the boys from Blitzburgh.
The Jets know that they are going to have to play well defensively. There are just no two ways around it. Allowing Pittsburgh to score 24 points or more may as well be a death sentence in all likelihood. The offense is going to be the key, and the Wildcat offense might be the main cog that has to be used effectively for the New York Jets to beat the NFL odds in Week 2.
Let’s start by looking at last year’s playoff game between the Steelers and the Denver Broncos with QB Tim Tebow in charge. QB Tim Tebow only completed 10 passes, but they went for a total of 316 yards and two scores. The offense rolled up 131 yards on the ground as well. The Wildcat sort of look really gave Pittsburgh fits at times, and the corners tended to get frustrated and gamble to become a part of the run defense.
When Tony Sparano was with the Miami Dolphins, he was never able to beat the Steelers. However, casting the 3-0 game played in the mud that should have never been played several years ago, the Miami offense had its success for sure running out of the Wildcat formation.
In Week 17 of 2010, Pittsburgh needed a win to have any chance of getting into the playoffs. It got the job done and won the game 30-24, but Miami rolled off 303 yards of offense against a defense that was one of the best in the league, and a ton of the success came with QB Pat White and RB Ricky Williams running the Wildcat. The Fins averaged 4.0 yards per rush, and if you take out the two quarterback sneaks on the day, had a respectable 23 carries for 98 yards.
The next year, Pittsburgh had some better success stopping the Wildcat, but the fear of it saw QB Chad Henne throw for 257 yards. Miami was leading that game deep into the fourth quarter, and the 23-22 loss was very unlucky for the host Dolphins.
And that brings us back to this Sunday with Sparano calling the shots and Tebow certainly being used for some Wildcat. New York isn’t going to be able to spread the field all that much with QB Mark Sanchez the same way that QB Peyton Manning did last week in Denver, but what can be done is to spread the field and run the ball out of that form with Tebow, RB Shonn Greene, RB Bilal Powell, and RB Joe McKnight.
The time is definitely now for Sparano to pull some running wrinkles out of his hat, and that might mean that it is time for more Tebow in the New York lineup.