Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tebow phenomena and the NFL's resistance to change

Denver Bronco QB Tim Tebow has caused a great deal of excitement and controversy.  Some recent examples of "piling on" include criticism of his references to Christianity,  funny videos about Tebowing, and even reports of unsportsmanlike denunciation by a Detroit Lion.   It has been entertaining to read Dallas Defensive Coordinator, Rob Ryan's indignation about Denver's alleged use of a College Offense.

So, what is the big deal about a QB who is obviously a Christian and leads the Broncos to dramatic comeback victories?   What if the root of media and competitor disdain has nothing to do with Tebow's Christianity?  Here is an idea about what has sports media and the NFL culture in an uproar.

  • What kind of a QB runs like a RB?  In the linked video Tebow follows a lead block into the End Zone.  Being 236 pounds and built like Atlas, Tebow does not shy away from contact.  Much different than the typical QB who scrambles for a few yards then slides,  
  • Denver's offense is a throwback to the 1940's and is based on the Single Wing. Oddly enough, the formation was invented by Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner and is used today in youth leagues.  College and the "new" Pro version is based on the Zone Read.  If the offense is so basic and old, why is it successful in the NFL?  Defenses should stop it, right?
    • Linemen zone block.  It is easier to push forward or block down than other types blocking.  The purpose is to generate options, not run a set play.
    • Depending on the evolution of the play there are options to handoff, pitch, or keep the ball.  Another deviation from the set play vs set defense mentality.
    • Ordinarily, the QB is not part of a running play once the exchange is made.  This creates a 10 on 11 situation.  When facing Denver, defenses have to contend with Tim Tebow.  Even as a blocker, the 236 pound well-built QB is more than a match for many LB's and DB's.
  • Defenses are worn down by the 4th Quarter by Denver's pounding running assault.  Denver's defense benefits from great field position and the extraordinarily few turnovers committed by the offense.
Is the real controversy a fear that NFL Offenses could find new life in old school football?  Could Tebow potentially be paving the way for QB's who run first and pass later?  Is he a harbinger of the end of the current cycle of robotic play calling and pass-happy offenses?   

What do you think?