After watching Brad Smith set up one touchdown with a 57-yard run and score another on a 32-yard option run in Sunday's 37-0 win over the Bengals, the Jets must decide if that was an aberration or a revelation. Is it too risky to use Smith in the Wildcat formation in Saturday's wild-card rematch in Cincinnati, or should they expand his role and allow the former Missouri quarterback to pass?
Earlier this season, the Jets just dabbled with the Wildcat, which they call the "Tiger" after Smith's college team. But as opponents put more defenders into the box to stop the Jets' running game, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer responded by making greater use of Smith.
"I'm definitely happy about it," Smith said Tuesday. "It means a lot to me. It's very important to be able to contribute."
Smith was the first player in NCAA history to pass for 8,000 yards and run for 4,000 in his career, but when he entered the NFL in 2006, he was asked to convert to wide receiver. In the past two seasons, the Wildcat offense has emerged, and now the Jets realize they have a dangerous weapon. Smith has carried 18 times for 207 yards this season. He hasn't thrown a pass yet, but if they roll him out, Smith can pressure a defense with the run-pass option.
"You're absolutely right," Smith said. "We've seen it with Michael Vick and Donovan [McNabb], guys who are mobile. Even Roethlisberger with his ability to run.
"I'm comfortable throwing the football. It's something I've done my whole life. If that situation arises, we just have to make plays."
When he rolled out on second-and-9 at the Bengals' 32-yard line in the second quarter Sunday night, faked the pitch to running back Shonn Greene and turned upfield to the end zone, it was almost as if Smith were back at Mizzou. "It did feel familiar," Smith said. "I hadn't had that feeling for awhile. It kind of hit me when I was running that, 'I can get used to this.' "
Most Wildcat formation "quarterbacks" are running backs taking a direct snap, but Smith is used to getting under center for the snap and either dropping back or rolling out to pass.
"You know, we have some things in the playbook that we can use to attack the defense," Smith said of his pass plays. "That is definitely a possibility."
When someone asked how he describes his position to friends, Smith said he's still in the wide receiver meetings.
So he sees himself as a receiver?
"You asked how I 'describe' myself," Smith said.
OK, how does he think of himself? "I'm still working on that."
Sounds like Smith's inner quarterback is raring to get out.