Thursday, March 22, 2012

What March 20-21 Means To Me: My Open Letter To Jets Fans On Tim Tebow

Dear Jets Fans,

You're gonna love Timothy Richard Tebow.  Yes, love him. I promise.  I know some of you are upset, and don't understand why the Jets engineered a trade for a quarterback who "can't throw," but trust me, you're going to be pleasantly surprised. 

I'm a lifelong Broncos fan that loves Broncos football pretty much more than ...well...anything in my entire life.  I am not a Tebowite that thinks he's invincible, predestined to be a huge star, or a demigod. I'm beyond happy that we got Peyton Manning, and fully understand that Tim no longer had a place on our team. But I've watched every single one of his snaps (pre-season,regular season, playoffs) and most of them more than once. Hell, I've watched Tim Tebow tape more than a 17 year old boy watches porn.  If you're interested in how he can help your team, read on.  If you're going to hate him for his Christian beliefs (and trust me, nothing he ever says is all that interesting), feel free to stop reading now.

Let's first discuss what Tim Tebow does poorly:

He is woefully inaccurate:  His completion percentage is under 50 percent, this is common knowledge.  This is partially because he never checks down (instead always looking for the big play), and partially because the mental side of his game isn't where it needs to be.  Also, his long motion isn't all that bothersome, but his terrible footwork is.  Some high school quarterbacks have better footwork than Tim.  Honest truth.  Because of this, he's pretty shit at short and intermediate routes.  When he's in rhythm, he can hit these, but that's not often.  Having said that, some of his failure as a passer is due to some pretty crappy scheming by the Broncos offensive staff.  Because we would usually max protect (and rarely spread the field), we normally ran verticals without a checkdown option.  It's hard to complete passes deep downfield when all three guys are covered and there's no outlet.  

He can't read defenses:  Not much at all.  He is way behind in the mental part of the game.  If he faces a cover-three, he'll drop back, notice his first read isn't available, panic, and look for room to run.  This often ends with little to no gain because, generally, the linebacker spying him is all over it.  Tim isn't all that subtle or elusive.   He didn't face a ton of cover-2, but if opposing safeties are somewhat competent, he's kind of useless on this front too.  He did start figuring out how to look off a safety in cover-one (see Pittsburgh), but he certainly hasn't mastered that either (see Buffalo). Because of his inability to decipher these, he generally holds the ball too long.  He hates throwing into tight spaces (which, in the NFL, in a major problem), and has little ability to "throw receivers open" (this may improve in time, but right now its an issue). 

Now, mastering the above is pretty essential to great quarterbacking, but you can pretty much ignore everything I wrote because, if my assumption is correct, Tim won't have to put those skills (or lack thereof) to much use.  Considering the Jets just extended Sanchez for three more seasons, and also signed Drew Stanton to be a back-up, my best guess is that Tim will only play spot duty, much like Brad Smith used to play for you guys (and you missed the change of pace last season, didn't you?).  Except here's the thing:  Tim Tebow is 1,000,000 times better at it than Brad Smith.

Now, let's talk about what Tim Tebow does really well.

The read-option:  The Broncos were a crappy passing team last year.  Everyone knew it.  Yet we still somehow led the league in rushing while facing consistent 8 and, many times, 9 man fronts.  The read-option (which I break down fully here) is not a "gimmick" that teams will "figure out" and, therefore, will become obsolete.  It's not a simple wildcat play that you were used to with Brad Smith (that had little to no passing threat).  What the read option does is create a natural mismatch between the offense and defensive front seven.  And because Tim is so damn good at reading it, teams generally need to keep two defenders committed to the back side of the play to guard against him keeping the ball to the weak side (and even, sometimes, they overcommit to the strong side, leaving Tim with wide open running room).  Because of this, there's a natural mismatch on the strongside (usually a 7 on 6 or an even 7 on 7), and that equals yardage.  Afraid you don't have any backs that can effectively run the read option?  No worries.  Willis McGahee had never ran it prior to last season either and, after one week of practicing it, he was gashing the Raiders defense for over 150 yards, and finished with a 1,200 yard season.  If you face a team with two incredibly athletic defensive ends (who can recover quickly), it's more easily controlled, but there aren't many teams that have this. 

Timmy can throw it long:  One obvious way of stopping the read option is by committing 9 guys to the line, but we see how well that worked for Pittsburgh.  There's a misconception that Tim has a weak arm, but trust me, he can make all the NFL throws.  He can place a really nice deep ball, and did so several times to Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker throughout the 2011 season.  This keeps the defense honest and will open up more lanes in the running game.  Plus, Tim hasn't even started sixteen games in the NFL.  His throwing and recognition skills will improve.  He may never be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but any improvement will just enhance his running ability in the read option because play action out of this formation can be very troublesome for unsuspecting defenses. 

Now, the Broncos pretty much used this offense exclusively, and that isn't sustainable without a more credible passing threat.  But in bits and pieces, it'll make for a great change of pace because 1) defenses won't be used to it on gameday, and football is a game that relies on quick reactions and 2) defenses will have to prepare for it in practice, distracting them from normal preparation.  The more you throw at a team, the better.  Tim is also incredible at extending plays out of any formation.  Sometimes this works to his detriment (he fumbles), but often it can lead to a big gain that wouldn't be there if not for his escapability.  Also, he generally doesn't throw too many picks.  So you don't have to worry about that. 

But best of all...

The Goal line:  Mark my words, Tim Tebow is THE best goal line threat in the league.  Bar none.  In fact, off the top of my head, I can only remember one set where Tim did not score from the 3 and in (a failed 2-point conversion against Minn.)  Because of his size and amazing nose for the endzone (mixed with his ability to out for the jump pass), he's unstoppable here.  For YEARS, the Broncos had trouble scoring from the 5 yard line and in, it was our annual Achilles heel.  Those problems disappeared overnight when we drafted Tim; he's too much of a duel threat in this area.  Think Michael Vick, if Michael Vick had the strength of a dominant full back.  If NOTHING else, he will have success here. In fact, you guys saw this in that game at Mile High in 2010. 

But, perhaps most of all, you're gonna love his attitude.  I'm a born and raised New Yorker, and I know New Yorkers ADORE passionate guys who play physical.  Remember Anthony Mason from those 90's Knicks teams?  Meet your new Anthony Mason (albeit a more Christian one).  He loves contact and isn't afraid of anyone.  He's gonna truck guys, he's gonna make plays, he's gonna score touchdowns, and because he won't be relied upon every down, he's going to be a headache for opposing defensive coordinators.  Plus, and this is well documented, he's got ice water in his veins.  Nothing fazes him.  It's infectious to his teammates. And you gotta love that in any football player. 

Sure, there's media hoopla that surrounds him, but you guys have a weapon.  And for what?  Essentially a high 4th round pick.

Not bad.

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