Monday, December 5, 2011

Tim Tebow and the Mere Threat of Tebow

It's not enough to say "Tim Tebow does it again." It's more like "again and again and again and again and again..."

As you've come to expect here, I'll leave the breathless gushing to others. Beyond the novelty of Tebow winning in a shootout (defying the "Tim Tebow can't win a shootout" conventional "wisdom"), I want to focus on one very specific element of yesterday's win:

Tebow ran the ball four times.

Or, should I say, ONLY four times. (Really, only three, if you take away that last knee to set up the game-winning field goal.)

This completely defied the conventional wisdom of the Broncos as this "option-only" one-dimensional team -- or Tebow as an "option-only" one-dimensional QB.

No, what struck me most was that the mere THREAT that Tebow might run -- the threat itself -- became an integral part of the offense. Last week's 22 carries carried over as a strategic feint.

Now, maybe the opportunity to run wasn't there. Or maybe the offense just took what the defense gave it. But the gap between 22 carries a week ago and 3 yesterday is stark.

Put another way: Because the defense had to be so aware of Tebow as a threat to keep it himself and run, new opportunities emerged for Tebow to make plays in other ways (like passing).

We saw this at Florida -- the almost-patented Tebow "play-action to himself," where he would take the snap, scoot a half-step toward the line as if he was running, reverse himself backward and find an open receiver.

Yesterday wasn't quite that simplistic, but the effect -- Tebow could run, therefore you have to play him as if he will run -- is totally disruptive.

And it is disruptive without Tebow actually running. I'm fascinated by this, and you could see that when you paired that threat with some slick passing, the effects were tangible.

The Bears -- playing without Jay Cutler or Matt Forte on offense -- are next, in Denver next Sunday afternoon. That should be a win. After that? A Sunday night game against the Patriots that will be more watched than any NFL game this season. Even if the Broncos lose that game -- and they will be heavy underdogs, even at home, even riding a crazy win streak -- they will still be perfectly positioned to run (or pass) right into the playoffs.

Meanwhile, just when you think Tebowmania can't get any bigger, it does. That, itself, is a hallmark of the Tebow phenomenon.

-- Dan

Oh, last point: For my money, Tebow's time-buying sideline scramble that became a TD pass to Thomas was his finest single moment as a pro.


  1. Regarding your P.S. about his finest moment as a pro, I disagree. Not because I think it wasn't a great vintage Tebow type play but because if Demaryius Thomas doesn't make a heck of a run after the catch for paydirt then it's probably just a very nice 20 yd completion. I'd point to the game-winning TD run against the Jets or even that amazing TD run in his first start against the Raiders last season.

    One other comment: I love how Tebow has taken over the NFL season from a storyline perspective. Even Peter King admitted he hasn't seen a story like this in the last 25 or so years of the league. Tebow in a playoff game will be the event of the year and Katy bar the door if he gets within a game of the Super Bowl.

  2. Two great pieces:

  3. My guess is that Dan is saying how Tebow kept the play alive, stiff-armed a linebacker, and kept looking up the field to throw. Trent Dilfer today talked about Tebow showing one of the traits of an NFL quarterback, in reading the field quicker and getting the ball out faster because he grasped much better where to throw the ball yesterday.

    By the way, two articles talking about Tebow's leadership:
    Sally Jenkins:
    Ashley Fox:

  4. Thanks for the links, flafan & Unknown.