Now watching erstwhile Philadelphia offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg install Vick as a Wildcat option behind Geno Smith on the Jets, McNabb is having flashbacks from behind his FOX analyst panel. The six-time Pro Bowler pulled no punches in the New York Daily News when it came to the Wildcat, a gimmicky offense named for a La Center (Wash.) High formation often featuring a running back receiving shotgun snaps behind a stacked line.
“I didn’t agree with the whole deal," McNabb said. "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.”
While Mornhinweg admitted the Wildcat disrupts a QB's rhythm, he stressed the positives — both pressuring coaches to spend practice time preparing for the formation and forcing defenders to think on their feet. In theory, Vick's ability to throw the ball makes the scheme even more dangerous, and his average of 4.9 yards on 37 touches on the 2009 Eagles didn't refute that. In the end, Philadelphia thought enough of Vick to trade McNabb within the division after the season.
McNabb's QB rating in 2009 was the best of his final five NFL seasons, and Philadelphia's offense ranked fifth in the league that year, so the disruption doesn't seem so costly. Regardless, the Wildcat's success has suffered since the Dolphins popularized it in a 2008 upset of the Patriots. The element of surprise lost its shimmer, a reality Tim Tebow experienced in 2012.
“The Jets tried this whole garbage with Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez and it got them nowhere,” McNabb, a Fox Sports analyst, told the New York Daily News. “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."
As Mark Sanchez's backup in New York, Tebow couldn't match Vick's 2009 success. Even Jets coach Rex Ryan admitted last week, when he suggested he wouldn't use Vick as a change-of-pace option behind Smith, "Never worked out great the last time." Yet, Mornhinweg has since installed Vick as a Wildcat QB in training camp, and McNabb remains opposed, as do many who would rather not risk the aging Vick's health for a few fleeting highlights from the shotgun.
Then again, Michael Vick is no Tim Tebow.
“Mike wants to be the starter,” McNabb said. “He doesn’t want to go in there to be the Tim Tebow of the 2012 Jets. Nobody wants that.”
Well, McNabb has a point there.