Blog Entry

Is play-calling the problem for Tebow, Broncos?

Posted on: November 4, 2011 10:00 am
Edited on: November 4, 2011 11:09 am
Is it the game plan or is it just Tebow? (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Through no fault of his own, Tim Tebow has become the league's most polarizing figure. He's been thrust into an untenable position; ill-equipped to perform the duties necessary of an NFL quarterback. Yet here he is, entering his third week as the Broncos' starter and so far the results have been disastrous.

Take the same player without Tebow's college pedigree, and the media story line would go something like this: "Young QB not yet ready for primetime, maybe in a season or two." And that would be that, the Broncos would've given Brady Quinn a chance or returned to Kyle Orton, and we could all get on with our lives.

Instead, Tebow, easily the worst of the NFL's 32 starting quarterbacks, remains the story. This is what happens when staunch critics point out he should never ever take another snap and his devoted supporters suggest that this isn't Tebow's fault. This is no middle ground.

And that brings us to this: the Broncos are now having to defend their play-calling. Because that's why Tebow has completed 46 percent of his passes this season and has been sacked 13 times in 10 quarters.

Last Sunday, there was a report that Denver had plans to revamp the offense around Tebow's strengths. According to Rotoworld, "Fox's is now going all-in on Tebow, acknowledging that the move to more of a Florida Gators look will either revolutionize the game or set it back years. As John Clayton suggested [last] week, the Broncos will put Tebow in the shotgun and 'cover their eyes.'"

If the Broncos had a Tebow-specific game plan against the Lions and still lost 45-10 then, impossibly, things may be worse than we feared. Turns out, they have.

Details via the Associated Press' Arnie Stapleton:
A close look at the film, however, shows the Broncos have tailored their offense to Tebow's unorthodox skill set even though the results haven't been pretty.

In his two starts, a win over the Dolphins and a loss to the Lions, Tebow has been in the shotgun an average of 40 times. From there, the Broncos have rushed the ball 17 times on average, half of the time on designed runs by Tebow.

And the Broncos have spread out their offense, using three wide receivers, an average of 50 times a game, almost every time with a tailback in the backfield with him. Those numbers are way up from the first month of the season when Kyle Orton was Denver's QB.
Stapleton notes something we've mentioned frequently in our weekly "Tracking Tebow" updates: Tebow holds the ball in the pocket, either not knowing which receiver to target, or struggling to decipher the defenses he's facing. In addition to the 13 sacks, Tebow's thrown a pick-six, had four fumbles (one returned for a touchdown), and Denver is just 6 for 30 on third downs.

Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy stresses patience.

"I mean, look at all the young quarterbacks in the league, how many come out right away and start lighting it up from the first game on?" McCoy said, via the AP. "There aren't many in the history of this game that do that. They all struggle early on, it's an adjustment to them. He's a young quarterback. So, there's going to be growing pains."

After a loss to the Lions last week, Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos look to rebound as they prepare to take on the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Jason Horowitz and's Pat Kirwan preview this matchup, Watch the game at 4:05 PM ET on CBS.

Fair enough, but the difference is that Tebow doesn't appear capable of making NFL throws. Yes, inconsistency is the hallmark of a young NFL quarterback. And while Blaine Gabbert looks as lost as Tebow on a weekly basis, there are a handful of plays you can point to every game and say, "See, that's why the Jags drafted him. He has the potential to be a really good player in this league."

Save the designed draw plays, or the broken play that Tebow occasionally turns into a big gain, there are no "wow" moments. Put differently: Tebow can't hurt you with his arm. He doesn't have the accuracy, timing or arm strength to regularly make throws that can beat NFL defenses.

If there was on bright spot it came in the fourth quarter of the Lions game, long after the game had been decided. Tebow, throwing on every down at this point in the proceedings, had some success on short routes. Admittedly, his receivers were wide open, but it was something.

John Lynch, the former NFL safety, called the game for Fox and suggested that the Broncos needed to throw more short passes to get Tebow in a rhythm.

"They were part of the game plan," Fox said. "We hit some and we missed some, regardless of what type of passes they were, and we tried `em all."

And while media and fans are looking to assess blame, Fox has already grown weary of it.

“The goofy thing is, it’s almost like if he doesn’t have success it will be anybody’s fault but his. It’s almost that kind of polarizing thing,” Fox told the Los Angeles Times' Sam Farmer. “They’ll say it could be his supporting cast, or the type of plays. At the end of the day, we are what we are. We’re doing everything we can to win, and we’re finding out about a young quarterback, good, bad or indifferent.”

Fox, by the way, is in his first year as Denver's head coach. Maybe it's a stretch to suggest he's already on the hot seat, but Josh McDaniels lasted a season and a half before getting dumped. And he started his Denver career with six straight wins.

The Broncos travel to Oakland to face the Raiders Sunday and Tebow will face more challenges against a defense that loves man-coverage schemes.

"We're going to do what we think is the best thing for our football team to win and you're always going to have people that are going to point the finger somewhere," McCoy said. "But we're trying to do everything we can to help Tim and the football team be successful."

We don't doubt this. The problem: Tebow hasn't shown any signs that he's a capable week-to-week NFL starter. But it's not like the two-win Broncos have much choice. Orton played his way out of the lineup and Brady Quinn doesn't offer much promise, either. To paraphrase Rick Pitino, John Elway will be walking through that door, but that's only because he's part of the front office. That said, the 51-year-old Hall of Famer still gives the 2011 Broncos the best chance to win.

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Since: Feb 11, 2009
Posted on: November 4, 2011 9:51 pm

Is play-calling the problem for Tebow, Broncos?

Kind of interesting that Fox does not really want to take the blame for this.  This is awesome.  Telling the LA Times that Tebow is the only one not taking blame is wrong.  Listen to ESPN.  They bury the guy any chance they can.  Is it his fault?  He is part of the problem thus it is his fault, however... There was no offseason.  Big problem.  They had him as the starter for ... 1 day!  Opening day of camp and they go to Orton after saying that they want to trade Orton. Yea, that works.  Offensive is for a conventional QB which Tebow is not.  Ok, plenty of things they are at fault for.  But, the throws Tebow is making are something to watch especially if you are eating because that ball is going to hit you and you will spill your nachos!  He is not the best passer.  So, take it as you will, both are at fault and I do not see Fox around for long.  The fans of the Broncos want to see him, most NFL fans want to see him (maybe because he is exciting or because they are just sic.  Either way, this is fun to watch), and TV/NFL wants to see him play!

Since: Nov 4, 2011
Posted on: November 4, 2011 3:22 pm

Is play-calling the problem for Tebow, Broncos?

You never hear anything abou the O-line being garbage. I lot of those sacks are from sorry blocking. But it's all Tebows fault. 

Since: Nov 4, 2011
Posted on: November 4, 2011 3:17 pm

Is play-calling the problem for Tebow, Broncos?

Amen. I barely see any short routes. Run the option. Like the real option play. Put Morano in the Percy Harvin postion. 

You do have to build your team around Tebow. He's not a normal QB. When Percy left. The offense wasn't as potent. You need other dinamic player on the offence. That way they don't double up on one guy. 

You need a fast O-line that can get out a block upfield for Tebow. Pouncy Twins.

Hell I would go after the Pouncy Twins next year and get Percy. Find a couple decent recievers. That's all you need to run with Tebow.

If you can't get them. Find the same caliber of players.

My $0.02.  

Since: Nov 4, 2011
Posted on: November 4, 2011 1:08 pm

Is play-calling the problem for Tebow, Broncos?

Really? They've tailored the offense to him???

One boot leg, one roll out, zero “no huddle”, no screens, no outlet available in the flat. Tebow was doomed to fail in that game plan. I now think Orton’s struggles were McCoy’s fault. His pass plays take way to long to develop. Where are the quick hitches, 2 second slants, 2 yard button hooks, or anything else design to beat 8 men in a box with a perpetual blitz. The guy didn’t even use altitude to our advantage.

If they don’t design a system to help Tebow, they migh as well play Quinn and Weber at saftey.

Since: Sep 5, 2009
Posted on: November 4, 2011 1:03 pm

Is play-calling the problem for Tebow, Broncos?

     pokesfan, good point.  The problem Denver has is in the last paragraph of the article.  You know things aren't looking good at QB when the best guy for the job is 51 and retired for over a decade. 

Since: Oct 20, 2011
Posted on: November 4, 2011 12:30 pm

Is play-calling the problem for Tebow, Broncos?

Very few rookie qb"s come in and light it up like Cam newton. He is a rookie, he should be seen and treated as that.

Since: Dec 21, 2006
Posted on: November 4, 2011 12:18 pm

Is play-calling the problem for Tebow, Broncos?

ok, markrb-

palmer hasnt played in a year and had, what? an hour to get ready for the game.  boller is a BACKUP for whom NOONE was screaming for him to start...

just sayin'...  do ur homework...

Since: Dec 21, 2006
Posted on: November 4, 2011 12:16 pm

Is play-calling the problem for Tebow, Broncos?

next question - is the grass too green for tebow?  THAT'S the real reason he sucks.  at florida, the grass wasnt as green, so maybe thats it...

Since: Nov 4, 2011
Posted on: November 4, 2011 12:10 pm

Is play-calling the problem for Tebow, Broncos?

First off, I don't agree that Tebow is the worst QB in the NFL.  You obviously didn't look at the two QB's who are playing for the team that Denver plays next, the Oakland Raiders.  Palmer's rating is a dismal 17.3 and Boller's is 31.1.  The last game these two played, they had a combined 23 of 49 for 277 yds, 0 TD, and 6(yes, that's 6) INTs.  Tebow has a 75.1 rating right now.  He's thrown 1 INT and 3TDs.  Yeah, some of his passes weren't very pretty, but to say he's the worst QB in the NFL isn't fair, either.  Secondly, they need to give him this playing time to see if he's going to be able to improve, or not.  At least they will know where they stand at the QB position at the end of the season.  If he sucks as bad as everyone says he does, then at the end of the season, the Broncos should be able to draft Luck.

Since: Nov 4, 2011
Posted on: November 4, 2011 10:51 am
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