Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comAnother year another discussion about whether the Jets newest quarterback can run the Wildcat?
It could be, but we sure hope not.
Tebow in 2012, which ended like this.
Geno Smith last spring …
While the Jets have used their backups in similar capacities before … could they do it again with Tajh Boyd?
“We’ll see as it gets going,” Ryan said when asked if Boyd is locked in as a quarterback. “Certainly, he’s got the running skills that we saw in college that you might consider doing different things with him.”
Boyd is a threat as a runner, having rushed for 26 touchdowns — a huge total for a passing quarterback — in four seasons as a starter at Clemson. That figure included 10 rushing TDs in each of the past two seasons.
“If it happens, I guess I’ll make the most out of it,” Boyd said of possibly playing a non-passer role. “But I just really can’t see that happening.”
It might be that the Jets practiced some of those formations over the weekend, but not being there makes it hard to say. Play calls and formations are an area reporters are not allowed to write about, but if players talk about it? That’s another thing. Theoretically, could Tajh Boyd handle such a role in an September NFL game? It’s possible, but it doesn’t seem plausible or likely from my perspective.
Boyd did show some wheels in college, where he was more a pocket passer who benefited from his supporting cast when throwing, but he also benefited from those same receivers when be would take off running. Make no mistake, Tajh Boyd is no Brad Smith redux. Boyd ran a pro-style offense while the Jets 2006 pick Brad Smith quarterbacked an option-heavy offense at Mizzou. Smith also ran a blazing 4.46 40 yard dash at the Combine. Boyd ran a 4.84. For comparison, Tebow ran a 4.72. Boyd doesn’t have that open field burst like Smith did … but he does have a better arm.
Even so, what if the Jets were to use Boyd as a Wildcateer?
Maybe it could work best in the red zone. Boyd’s rushing touchdown totals in college indicate that he was a pretty serious red zone threat as a runner. Of course I’m sure having Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant helped. While Boyd’s average yards per run isn’t impressive (2.3 YPC) keep in mind that college doesn’t remove sack yards from the rushing equation, like the NFL does. In that case his numbers are closer to five yards per carry, but it’s still less impressive than Geno’s were coming in a year ago.
Even if we were to somehow get past all this, the luxury of activating a third quarterback for gameday to run a few Wildcat packages is a bridge too far.
Tajh Boyd is likely going to have both Mike Vick and Geno Smith ahead of him on the roster. Both of whom are better NFL quarterbacks already and both are well-equipped to run the ball when necessary. Geno Smith demonstrated those skills during the 2013 season and Mike Vick has always been known for his ability to create yardage on the ground. Why activate a third quarterback for at most three to five plays per game when the backup (be it Geno or Vick) might get better results?
In the end, Boyd and his new team need to worry about rounding Boyd into an NFL quarterback first and foremost and grooming the former Clemson star into a long-term backup. SportsOnEarth’s Mike Tanier came to this conclusion about Boyd not long ago.
Boyd’s best NFL opportunity may come as a designated backup … [c]areer backups have different skillsets than top prospects. They need ever-ready work habits and a spark-plug playing style. Boyd has both. He can take his name off the free fall list and put him on another list, one that includes Shaun Hill, Bruce Gradkowski, Josh McCown and Seneca Wallace: professional middle relievers who can hang around the NFL for a decade. Boyd can emerge a winner after all.
The Senior Bowl, his pro day and the combine keep pointing in the same direction: toward Day Three of the draft, the chance to give a coach a firm handshake and stake out a career as a spot starter and pepperpot. He could have Andy Dalton playoff runs in a Maserati offense and/or a dignified McCown late career. It’s all about expectation management: his, his team’s and ours. Boyd can emerge from his free fall as a useful, well-compensated NFL player.
The Jets have struggled to find a competent long-term backup who can be ready at a moment’s notice and could steer the team through some tough times while the team’s starter can’t play. Boyd can be a useful part of this team for a long time, if he is allowed to focus on what he needs to … which is becoming an NFL quarterback and not a gadget player.
Boyd’s dismissal of running the Wildcat is what we hope the Jets are thinking too behind closed doors. Boyd could be the right player to provide a valuable player that every NFL team needs. That is if the Jets focus on the right things.