If you've made it this far, congratulations. You are one of three types of people:
1) You love Tim Tebow;
2) You love NFL playbooks;
3) You typed in "Woody Paige Is Fat" into Google.
Here at It's All Over, Fat Man! we'll take all three. We have no prejudices--unless you count our almost psychopathic leanings towards zone blitzing.
If you're just stumbling upon this series, you can always go back and get Part 1 & Part 2 first. Or you can just go commando and read this third installment of Tebow(etheus) Unbound. Today we'll be looking at throws 9-12, in which Tebow looked like a NFL-caliber quarterback.
When: 6:48 of the 3rd Quarter
Where: Oakland's 42-yard line
Down & Distance: 2nd and 11
The Dope: At this point in the game, the Raiders possessed a 3-point lead but the Broncos were driving for the go-ahead score. Denver brought a weak side offset-I formation that featured two tight ends. Brandon Lloyd (84), for his part was split left as the sole wide receiver.
This is the kind of formation that screams run. Naturally, the Broncos passed. The primary receiver was Lloyd, which isn't hard to surmise as he was the only wide receiver in the formation.
What Tebow Saw: The Raiders came out with their standard 4-3 personnel but brought their strong safety down into the box. The look amounted to a 5-5 with the cornerback on the strong side also joining the fray. Given the call, Tebow (15) was probably licking his chops to see the Raiders stack the box and commit only a free safety over the top. In other words, it was a perfect time to pass. The Raiders were thinking run.
The Happening: Tebow gave a slight ball fake to Correll Buckhalter (28), took a beautiful five-step drop, scanned the safety to see if he wanted to hit Lance Ball (35) coming out of the backfield, then threw a perfect laser strike to Lloyd on a 20-yard comeback.
The Bottom Line: This was Tebow's best throw of the day. I'm not trying to oversell Tebow here, but this was a great NFL-quality throw. If this is what we have to look forward to in Denver, the future is bright. Sure, it was one throw. But Tebow was tall and calm in the pocket; he stepped into his throw; he was deadly accurate. The only thing he could have done better would have been to sell the ball fake a little more. But the throw more than made up for it.
When: 5:44 of the 3rd Quarter
Where: Oakland's 25-yard line
Down & Distance: 2nd and 12
The Dope: This play occurred on the same drive as the previous pass, just deeper into Oakland's territory. What's interesting about this play is that it featured Lance Ball as the primary receiver. The Broncos again brought out their 221 personnel package (2 RB, 2 TE, 1 WR) and deployed it in an offset-I formation. They had a tight end lined up off each tackle, while Brandon Lloyd was split right. The idea here was simply to try and exploit a favorable matchup--Lance Ball versus a linebacker.
What Tebow Saw: The Raiders again featured their 4-3 personnel, but stacked the box with their strong safety (standard practice for the Raiders), so the appearance was of a 4-4. Tebow likely assumed they weren't blitzing because the right cornerback was playing way off Lloyd. When he looked left, he knew that sending Daniel Graham (89) up the seam would force the cornerback into coverage, and that Ball would have some space with which to work. One can imagine Tebow smiling after getting such a pre-snap read. He knew they had the right play called.
The Happening: Tebow play faked to Buckhalter and took what amounted to a seven-step drop. This allowed both Daniel Graham and Lance Ball to work up the field on their deep routes. The cornerback and safety over the top were forced to deal with Graham's pressure up the seam - Tebow made sure of this by looking them off like a real pro. Then he shifted and saw Ball in man coverage against a linebacker. Bingo. Tebow stepped into his throw and delivered a strike to the end zone. The football hit Ball in the breadbasket, but he dropped the pass.
The Bottom Line: Another great read and play by Tebow. There are several things worth noting in detail. First, it was probably Tebow's best ball fake of the afternoon. Second, his footwork on his drop, although not Manning-like, was better than it's been previously. Third, he looked at Graham first, which delayed the free safety from getting over to help against Ball. And fourth, he threw another accurate ball to his running back in the end zone. There are those who have said that Tebow underthrew this pass, but I think it's too hard to tell. He may have underthrown it slightly. Or he simply was throwing to the back shoulder of his target. We can't know for sure. Either way, it was a beautiful pass. If Ball would have made the catch the Broncos would probably have had the lead going into the 4th quarter.
When: 0:58 in the 3rd Quarter
Where: Denver's 36-yard line
Down & Distance: 2nd and 10
The Dope: With the score now 23-20 in Oakland's favor, the Broncos were still very much in the game. They decided to continue their two-tight-end party and showed a single back or "Ace" formation. They balanced the formation with a tight end and wide receiver on each side. As Fat Man readers know by now, this is a 221 personnel grouping--a flexible package if one has versatile tight ends.
The only receiver the Broncos had any intention of throwing the ball to here was Richard Quinn (81). It was a play in which Quinn simply crossed the formation in the hope that the Raiders would either blitz or lose track of him in the middle of the line.
What Tebow Saw: The Raiders (as usual) stacked the box. Tebow surely noticed the strong safety and linebackers creeping slowly to the line of scrimmage on the left side of the formation, which screamed overload blitz. If not, it didn't matter. OC Mike McCoy had the perfect play called.
The Happening: Sure enough, the Raiders blitzed a linebacker and a safety on an overload. Tebow ball faked to Buckhalter and then simply lifted his pass over the untouched defensive end and right into the hands of Quinn, who scampered near the 1st-down marker. It was the kind of play that a less athletic passer might have had trouble with given the speed with which the defensive end was closing.
The Bottom Line: This wasn't a pocket throw; rather, it was the kind of throw that I think Tebow is a natural at--drawing the defense in, backing up, then delivering with touch to a running back out of the backfield. I can't find fault with anything Tebow did here, although certainly the throw wasn't of the classic pocket variety.
Grade: A (given his responsibilities on the play)
When: Beginning of the 4th Quarter
Where: Denver's 39-Yard Line
Down and Distance: 3rd and 6
The Dope: To begin the 4th quarter, the Broncos were still only down 23-20. They were again in a position to take possession of this game. The Broncos came out in a 113 personnel grouping (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR). They put all three wide receivers to the right of the formation. Clearly, they wanted the Raiders to believe they were going to pass the ball that way. Of course, it's most often the case that when a team goes out of its way to make something obvious, they are actually headed in a different direction.
This play was a screen pass to Buckhalter out of the backfield. The wideouts were simply decoys and they were actually there to clear out as many defenders as possible so the Broncos could hit on a big play.
What Tebow Saw: The Raiders were coming, there was no doubt about it. They played full man-to-man press coverage on the wideouts and stacked the box with eight defenders, all of them threatening the line of scrimmage. I'm sure Tebow knew these threats were real given the consistency with which the Raiders were playing the Broncos' receiving threats all the way until the snap of the ball. In theory, at least, the call was perfect. The Raiders were blitzing and the Broncos had a screen pass called. Tebow simply needed to make sure the pressure didn't get to him before he had a chance to lay the ball out for Buckhalter.
The Happening: Everything worked to perfection, all except the part about the defensive end reading the screen. In this case, the defensive end mauled Buckhalter to the ground; the screen pass, which Tebow did a great job getting off, simply fell to the ground for an incompletion.
The Bottom Line: Tebow did his job. The call was perfect. Sometimes a guy just makes a great read and a great play. It's too bad. This play had a real chance to go a long way.
Tomorrow, unless there's a bitchin' Leprechaun marathon on television (in particular, Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood), you'll be getting our final installment of Tebow(etheus) Unbound. Look forward to seeing you there. Until that time, feel free to give your thoughts on these throws from Tebow.