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The Jets Put Themselves on Double Secret Probation

The Jets go all Soviet when it comes to the Wildcat

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    Who needs Red Square when you've got red jerseys?

    Under Rex Ryan, the Jets have been a team that believes that anything worth doing is worth doing as loudly as possible.

    That made it more than a little shocking to learn that the Jets would be barring reporters from sharing what they saw on the field at Monday's practice. They could share that the Jets were practicing the Wildcat offense, but they couldn't offer any details about what played out on the field.

    It's a strange time to choose silence. The Jets hired Tony Sparano, who put the Wildcat into the league vernacular as Dolphins coach, as their offensive coordinator and traded for Tim Tebow, a quarterback whose running ability is the only thing keeping him from playing tight end.

    On the big board of mysteries, this is less "Who is Keyser Soze?" and more "Who let the dogs out?" 

    Let's face it, if the Jets are just running the Wildcat then the only reason to keep it secret is if they are planning to have an actual wildcat on the field running the ball. Otherwise, they'd be running plays in an outmoded offense that every team in the league has seen since Sparano put it into heavy use while coaching the Dolphins.

    What's a bit easier to believe is that the Jets are running some kind of variation on the read option looks that were the bread and butter of the Tebow-led offense in Denver last season. Or perhaps it's some kind of hybrid where Tebow, Mark Sanchez and Joe Namath are all on the field at the same time for a play that ends with a pooch punt for reasons we may never fully understand.

    If they're looking for a name for the package of plays, we'd go with the Black Sea Coast Offense because Ryan's whole plan here seems to be stolen from the pages of Khruschev instead of Pop Warner. The idea is to make teams guess about what the Jets might do on offense because those guesses will take up practice time that can't be spent on other things.

    That's sort of the way things went during the Cold War, when the U.S. and U.S.S.R. would try to goad the other side into doing things because of what their enemy might be prepared to do instead of simply dealing with the things that they were actually doing.

    All of the spending, spying and gamesmanship of the era wound up with the end of the Soviet Union, the more secretive of the two sides and the one without the resources of their capitalist rivals.

    Let's hope the analogy doesn't stretch quite that far for the Jets because they definitely bear some similarity to the boys from the Kremlin. Just as the Soviets acted like a world power without the money to pay for the dirty business of being a world power, the Jets act like an NFL contender without a roster that has the talent to do the dirty business of being an NFL contender.

    And that's why they are staking part of their offense on a plan that involves taking their starting quarterback out of the game in the middle of drives, a move that shows about as much strength as making the Berlin Wall out of chicken wire.

    On second thought, maybe it is for the best that the Jets keep all this stuff a secret.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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