Short answer: Yes. Tyrod Taylor is capable of effective dual-threat play at the NFL level. This would provide a decidedly new look to a Ravens offense that has a firm identity as a traditional I-Formation, pound-the-ball unit. Let’s take a look at the why and how possibilities for a Ravens/Taylor package in 2011.
WHY CAN TYROD TAYLOR RUN THE WILDCAT IN THE NFL?
Resume – Tyrod Taylor demonstrated an ability to be a productive runner at Virginia Tech – particularly in 2008 and 2010, when he rushed for 700+ and 600+ yards, respectively.
Multiple Tools – Although not highly regarded as a “pro-style” NFL Quarterback as he enters the league, Taylor does possess enough refinement as a passer (60% completions and a 23-4 TD-INT ration as a senior at VT) to complete passes consistently from high percentage offensive sets.
Hunger – With obvious comparisons to his mentor of sorts (Michael Vick), Taylor does not have to look far for an example of a Quarterback that swallowed some pride (Vick in 2009 with the Eagles) to get on the field and make plays in an “alternative” offensive setting. Taylor will likely jump at any chance to prove his value on the field in 2011.
WHAT MUST THE RAVENS DO TO MAKE IT WORK?
Spread Them Out – For a “Wildcat” set to work for Baltimore, defenses will need to be stretched horizontally to defend the entire 53+ yards of the field’s width. Most defenses already scheme to try and take away Baltimore’s run game, so introducing a package that allows defenses to stay piled up in the box is probably not the best alternative. Moving defenders away from the ball will allow for more dynamic run play design and lanes, and some great play-action opportunities.
Strategize – The Wildcat is now 5 years old in the NFL. Based on Single Wing principles from the Pop Warner era, the Wildcat usually features a RB with an ability to take direct snaps, make ball fakes, and run downhill. NFL defenses are no longer mystified by Wildcat formations, and are able to make adjustments to account for the “QB” (really a RB taking the snap) as an extra body at the point of attack. That said, Tyrod Taylor is not a downhill RB, and the Ravens must account for his need to run in space when designing a package for him.
WILL THE RAVENS DO IT?
Not sure. The I-Formation, run-first mentality of offensive football usually holds as a basic tenet that consistent execution of your core scheme is what eventually produces points. So, the Wildcat may be a leap. But, if properly planned and practiced, the Wildcat could be a major headache for defenses so accustomed to preparing only for the Ravens’ usual offensive sets and powerful running game.