Walter Payton and the wildcat?

Of course, I’m pretty precise when it comes to referring to something as the wildcat, but these clips of Sweetness playing shotgun QB for the Bears are, well, sweet:

  • Coach P

    Pretty cool. I particularly like that the announcers called it “the spread formation.” But I thought the spread started in the late ’90’s…right, Gary Danielson? Ha…

  • Nice find!

  • HS Coach

    Someone who is an actual Bears fan may want to correct me on this, but I think this happened out of necessity. The Bears had lost all of their quarterbacks in the first half due to injury. Payton had been an option quarterback in high school or at Jackson State. Because of this he was an emergency quarterback. If memory serves me correctly one of the qbs got released to play at halftime and then Payton went back to being a running back.

  • Josh Paddock

    @ HS Coach: I couldn’t find anything about the injuries, but there’s the box score and stats from that game, which the Bears ended up losing. Right around the 3:00 mark the announces say something to the effect of “timeout with 1 minute left in the first half”, so I think you’re right about the scenario you mentioned.

  • OldSchoolCatFan

    –(under many names) has been around lot longer than Bill Snyder.–

    I suppose you could ask someone familiar with the history of the sport or Google any 20 year old interview with Bill Snyder to find out his thoughts on the single-wing offense. Only the poorly informed a) credit Snyder with “inventing” the Wildcat or b) act as if he claims to have done so. Neither has any basis in fact. The closest any statement could come with any degree of accuracy is that Bill Snyder was the first modern major-college coach to use it extensively in decades.

  • Mr.Murder

    Classification of species. That’s a Bearcat you’re lookin’ at!

  • Lynsj60

    I am pretty sure Greg Landry and Vince Evans both got hurt in the game and Sweetness had to play QB. Anybody else remember that?

  • Jon

    I’m a 39 year old Bear fan, and I remember this specific scenario the way HS Coach describes it above.

    Payton fancied his ability to throw; he was always a threat for the HB option pass in goal line situations. Sweetness had every tool you’d want for a complete running back – with the exception of a “fifth gear”. He set the standard for accelerating, finding holes, blocking, receiving, and shedding tackles. His big problem was that he’d get caught from behind on long gainers.

  • AERose

    Semi-related: Got to appreciate the balls of Mike Ditka to go for it on 4th down at his own 40 with his tailback playing quarterback.

  • Mr.Murder

    Once saw Payton stand a Redskins defensive end straight up when Walter was falling backwards and almost parallel to the ground. His shoulderblade was about a half shoe length above the ground. He hit the end(the end playing opposite Dexter Manley, Charles Mann at the time?) and when Mann was going to reach tackle him Payton straightened up off the contact. Not before driving a man so much larger than him backwards, going from flat, to coiled, to driving him back the length of Payton’s frame, just to fight for one extra yard.

    Amazing blocker too, he wanted to block for his fullback in the Super Bowl to reward Suhey all the times it was done for Sweetness.

    Then a game against the Cowboys, he reversed the field three times, broke at least a half a dozen tackles, each time he reversed field, all for a one yard loss. Left All Pros and Pro Bowlers scattered all over the field.

  • I saw <a ref=""Rusty Lisch was hanging around Ditka

  • Dotbo

    That’s not a wildcat – it’s just a spread with a running QB. The wildcat uses an unbalanced line and a wildcat back in motion (in the Dolphin’s case, Ricky Williams usually comes in motion) for a fake (or real) handoff.

  • The Bears had lost all of their quarterbacks in the first half due to injury. Payton had been an option quarterback in high school or at Jackson State. Because of this he was an emergency quarterback.

  • Benny P

    Right then:

    – Vince Evans wasn’t on the 84 roster; Fuller and McMahon were injured; Bob Avellini had been traded/released earlier in the season; Greg Landry played the following week against Detroit but didn’t have an attempt against Green Bay (if he started he wasn’t in the game for long and this footage is 2nd qtr) and Rusty Lisch was the only specialist QB with passings stats on the day for the Bears. Looking at them I’d say Ditka probably pulled him in favour of Payton!
    – Payton was never a QB in high school, though he did throw the odd pass and kick the team’s field goals. An anecdote in Never Die Easy talks about him at a practice standing under the posts trying to pick off field goals by throwing another ball at them with roughly a 50% strike rate
    – To the question of whether it’s a true wildcat, Payton does line up at the end in what’s more or less like the old flanker position with Lisch in the game, takes a pitch from him and throws Suhey a touchdown. You can probably argue it from both sides as it’s never going to resemble the Dolphins incarnation… but then again neither do most of the other NFL teams’ attempts to run it!

    Ultimately, I say just enjoy it for what it is: one of the greatest players in the history of the game doing whatever it took to try and get his team a win. A lesson a great many active players could take on board.

  • Not that being at the game would make me an expert, but I do remember the angst we all felt while sitting in our seats in that old shithole of a “football” stadium toward Rusty Lisch (and, late in the game, the awful Terry Schmidt) and I distinctly recalling Ditka pulling Lisch out of sheer petulance–Lisch wasn’t hurt.

    The week before, Steve Fuller had gotten knocked out of a Monday Night Game against the Chargers in San Diego, IIRC, and Lisch–who had been a very ordinary QB at Notre Dame– stepped in for his first action of the year. He did okay, but on what would have been a heroic late drive, instead got sacked, fumbled, and the San Diego defensive player ran it all the way back for a tocuhdown while Don Meredith sang.

    The Bears had already clinched the NFC Central after beating the Vikings the week before the San Diego game, but it was unsettling to have such disarray down the stretch at QB. Sure enough, Lisch never played another game for the Bears after the Green Bay debacle (or, I’m certain, for anybody else in the NFL), the Bears signed Landry during the week, he led them to a season-ending victory over Detroit (and later springboarded from his one game to eventual Offensive Coordinator for Ditka), then Fuller came back in time to help the Bears engineer a stunning upset of the Redskins at RFK in the Divisional Playoffs. The rest, as they say, is history.

    Walter Payton was the shit. I could watch this video over and over…

  • rkhufu7

    The spread does not mean the shotgun, it means and offense that takes the HB and moves him out of the backfield and leaves only the FB. tom Osborne ran teh spread in the 70s and 80s per that definition.