Raiders new offensive line coach sees the new trend toward mobile quarterbacks and the former Wildcat head coach likes what he sees.
Tony Sparano was once a head coach in the NFL a few years ago with the Dolphins. When he came on board, he took the 1-15 Dolphins and moved the hyphen to the right one number to make them an 11-5 club. He did it by baffling the rest of the NFL with the Wildcat.
For those unfamiliar, the Wildcat uses either a mobile quarterback or a running back to take the snap and then runs a read option.
The idea took the league by storm but once other teams adjusted to it, it faded away again.
The NFL loves trends as every team looks for the latest new age trend. The new trend toward mobile QB's is one such trend.
"You can see it happening right now," said Sparano in a press briefing on Wednesday. "Obviously what just happened in San Francisco, and out in Seattle and Carolina, a lot of those places, you're starting to find that more and more teams are getting into some of that stuff... I think these athletic quarterbacks that are coming out now, and what you're seeing coming out of some of these systems through college right now is starting to form kind of a new trend in the league.
"The truth is now with these type of players being able to take every snap and you really don't know what they're going to do, because they're taking every snap and they can drop back and throw the football or they're taking every snap and they can run zone reads and run options or do some of these different things like [Colin] Kaepernick and these people are doing, some of the Russell Wilsons of the world. It just brings a complete different element for the defense to have to prepare for."
One name Sparano didn't mention was Tim Tebow. His mobility helped lead the Broncos to the playoffs two seasons ago and Sparano's Jets then acquired Tebow in a trade. The experiment was a failure and part of the reason Sparano was let go by the Jets after just one season as offensive coordinator.
The Raiders, of course, already have an athletic quarterback on the team -- Terrelle Pryor. But they also have Darren McFadden who ran the Wild Hog formation at Arkansas which is basically the same as a Wildcat but with their mascot spin on it. Sparano sees McFadden as a good fit in his scheme.
"I think he fits it really well," said Sparano. "I'm excited about getting a chance to work with a player like that. I've known of McFadden for a long time. My quarterback coach at the time in Miami was a fella by the name of David Lee. And David Lee was at the time the coordinator at Arkansas when they were out there and they were running McFadden and Felix [Jones] and that group of guys, doing some different things with them."
That influence Sparano had came from a coach who had McFadden to run it for him. Could he see McFadden filling a similar role for the Raiders?
"It's interesting because I remember the first time we ran out there with the Wildcat formation, it was Ronnie [Brown], and Ricky [Williams], Ronnie will tell you he was 75 percent, I think he was 3-for-4, he thinks he has the highest quarterback rating in the history of the game."
This idea that the Raiders could use McFadden in a Wildcat type offense is not a new one. He was seen as a versatile player coming out of college. But the Raiders have never gotten too exotic with him. He has thrown all of one pass in his NFL career and it fell incomplete. It could be high time to change that.