Happy Friday, friends, and welcome back for a bonus Serving. As promised on Tuesday, I’ve come up with six more Tebow-friendly plays, and I’ll have some thoughts at the end pulling it all together. First of all, though, I wanted to address a stupid notion from Trent Dilfer that appeared in the Don Banks article that Doug referenced in today’s Lard.
Dilfer knows what he’s looking at, and he’s a good judge of the ability to throw the ball, and of proper mechanics. His premise in this quote is beyond stupid, though.
His biggest issue will be, every good passing offense in this league, without exception, is based on rhythm, timing and location. There's a rhythm to a pass play, there's a timing to a pass play, and there's a location the ball and the receiver needs to be on a pass play. And those are the three things he really struggles with.'
I think Dilfer’s point that every good current NFL passing game is based on timing is dubious, but I’m not going to lose focus on arguing that. My big problem with this statement is the inherent assumption that just because things have trended in one direction throughout a lot of the NFL that everybody has to go with that trend.
Remember when virtually the whole NFL went to schemes based on 4-3 personnel groupings in the early 90s? It was done to get more team speed on the field to be able to defend the West Coast Offense. Do you remember who notably didn’t make the change? The Pittsburgh Steelers, that’s who. Instead, they stuck with their 3-4 stuff, and they’ve built a 25-year program that’s featured a lot of success on using that defensive philosophy. Being different was a big advantage in those days, because other teams weren’t well-prepared to play the Steelers.
There’s also an issue with Brian Billick’s contention that a QB who features the run has never won a Super Bowl, so none therefore can. This is the same analytical approach that held that a black person couldn’t possibly be elected President of the United States, because none ever had. It didn’t work for Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton! America isn’t ever going to be ready for a black president!
That looked pretty solid right up until Barack Obama crushed John McCain in the 2008 election. My father, who is a very smart guy, was still convinced at 9 PM of that election evening that all of the polls were wrong, and that McCain was going to win. What does that theory look like now? Just because you can say that something has never happened, it doesn’t follow that that thing can’t possibly happen. (Of course, the same idiot Villager political pundits are still getting paid to provide the same brand of stupid analysis. Political punditry is the least accountable industry in the world, if you ask me.)
Billick goes on to get into some stuff about what it takes to win a championship. Do you know what it takes to win a championship? Scoring more points than the team you’re playing for three or four games in a row, that's what. There's no other correct answer. Does it matter how those points are scored in an aesthetic sense? Absolutely not. Now, I may be picking on Billick unfairly, but he's the one being stodgy in front of my eyes right now, and it's emblematic of a lot of the same from others.
Tebow is different than any other QB who has ever played the game. That’s a tough thing to get your head around, but it’s true. He’s going to score a rushing TD (or more) in just about every game he ever plays in, and no QB has ever done anything close to that. He's going to be a threat to lead the NFL in rushing TDs every year. Steve Young has the record for most rushing TDs by a QB in a career with 43. Tebow will have that broken by the end of 2013, and probably well before that, if he continues to be a starting QB in the NFL all the way through. He already has seven of them, including four in 3.5 games where he played extensively as the QB. Trust me, this is inevitably going to happen.
Tebow will also be good enough with the deep ball and the screen game to mitigate his struggles with the intermediate stuff, as he develops better skills in that area. He’s a work in progress, but he’s going to continuously improve, and while he does, he’s going to make a lot of plays.
The good news is that it doesn’t really matter what these guys say, it only matters how Tebow plays. His future is in his own hands, and who wouldn’t want to have that opportunity? Even if you choke on it, like Kyle Orton did, you had your shot.
On to some plays. Fire one!
Play 7: HB Lead Sweep Right
Notice that on the seventh play that we’re looking at, we’re still in Shotgun. Notice also that we’re seeing 21 personnel, which tends to indicate run. This is virtually the same thing the Packers were doing with Jim Taylor in the 60s, although I’m only pulling one Guard, and it’s from the Shotgun. The key block is the crackback on the Sam LB by the Z WR, and the RG is pulling outside to help the FB lead the play. If it goes right, they’re going to be hitting a SS and a CB. If the Mike flows with the play and doesn’t stay home on the threat of Tebow to the backside, he takes priority over the CB to be blocked.
Tebow is going to play it like it’s a bootleg left, and the X WR is going deep to run the CB off. The idea is to cause hesitation with the FS and/or Mike and to run the CB off on the backside. The offensive coaches are going to study how the backside plays out on this, and it’s going to give them indicators as to whether to run it straight-up like in the diagram, or to attack with misdirection off of it.
Play 8: HB Lead Sweep Right Bootleg
From the Department of Recurring Themes, this looks exactly like the Sweep, except the Y and Z are going to “miss” their blocks and run routes across the field, and the FB is going to start right and curve back left across the line of scrimmage. Tebow doesn’t hand off, but otherwise bootlegs left like before.
The read is simple. If the 9 route is there downfield, you take it; otherwise, you’re playing High-Low from the Z to the Y to the FB to the QB run. This is a flooded half-field read, and it’s not consistently defendable by the base defense look that we see there. Really, this is the same play as the staple of the Shanahan offense that the Broncos ran hundreds of times from under center.
So how do we know when to call this? If the Mike and the FS are flowing hard right on the run action of the sweep, we like this play a lot. We also like it if the LCB looks like he has a zone stance, because we’re flooding the other side, and rendering him useless.
In a general sense, this is why I’ve always loved offense the most. You can draw two plays that look the same, and they can’t possibly both be defended because you’re stressing every inch of the field. Once you get the defense guessing on it, things get really fun.
Play 9: QB Outside Zone Lead
Notice we’re still in the Shotgun, but now we’ve switched to 12 personnel with only a FB. We have a strong right side with both TEs, and a slotted open side with both WRs on the offense’s left. This strongly indicates QB run right if Tebow is the QB, and there’s no pretense about this. We’re going to try to get it blocked, the FB is going to lead the QB outside.
We’re running this against either a seven- or eight-man box, especially with a man-to-man look, where the LCB is on the open side over the slotted Z WR. What if the SS is over the second TE on the line of scrimmage? We don’t care, because the math still works. Because Tebow isn’t handing the ball off to anybody, there’s no wasted handoff man. Against a seven-man front, the FB is free. Against an eight-man front, he’s got the SS. It should be noted that this is not a play where anybody is looking for a huge run, but it sets up other stuff, which we’re getting to right now.
Play 10: Rollout Right
The TEs are both releasing, one to the seam and the other to the Flag (7 route). The Z WR is making his inside release, but instead of breaking to the outside as before, he’s running a 10-yard crosser to the right and making that CB trail him. The FB is going to the flat.
This is another flooded half-field read, and that’s what Tebow needs. If the seam is initially there then he should take it, and if not, he should forget it and go high-to-low, with his own running lane as an outlet. Tebow is a lefty and he’s more comfortable going left, but he can make any of these throws rolling right too.
Play 11: QB Counter Half Rollout Left
This play looks like the Outside Zone again, and Tebow starts out running to his right for two steps, but then changes direction back to his left, where he has his two WRs running complementary routes against what we’re thinking is zone coverage with an out-of-position FS, who is hopefully too used to following Tebow right. (We’re reading zone from the LCB being left.) We feel really good about hitting the X guy on the 9 route, but if the CB is super-aware and runs deep with him, we’ll take the shorter throw to the Z, because that Will LB isn’t getting all the way out there.
Play 12: Jump Pass Option
This is a Florida Special goal-line play, and I’ve never seen Tebow make a bad decision on it. It’s simply a run left, and if the left TE is uncovered, Tebow is throwing a jump pass to him on the run. I’ve adapted it to also include an outside route to the Z (single WR), because I figured I’d NFL it up. If that CB crashes, it’s just as easy a read and throw to the Z. The only way to defend this is to cover both the X and Z and somehow count on the other defenders to get off blocks and stop one of the most instinctive and powerful short-yardage runners in football history from making 1-2 yards. Good luck with that!
This is all just a start, friends. These are things which Tebow can do right now, and which would be collectively impossible to completely account for. If the Broncos want Tebow to be successful, they’ll go to a lot of stuff like this and just let his athleticism, feel for football, and competitiveness take over games. Now, we'll see what actually happens starting next Sunday, and for the best analysis in the world on that front, you know to turn to IAOFM.