This game may have been the most complete display of teammate works since the Cincy game. Great play in all three phases just goes to show when the team plays well, we can compete with decent teams. Now the game was hardly perfect especially for some players, but like last week, we are going to dive a bit deeper into some parts and players that often get overlooked in these post-game reviews.
Now last week you said you wanted the bad news first so I'll stick with that format. With that in mind, remember to finish the bad news and read the good news before commenting. Keep in mind that these aren't final judgements on players saying they will 100% succeed or 100% fail. Also, please remember this is taken from game film and stats put together, so this isn't a rush job. I did my best to give each topic deep coverage. Now I want this to be different than a normal Stud's or Dud's or Winner's or Loser's, so while I will categorize them under similar labeling, I'm hoping to highlight things that won't be brought up in other game recap posts.
Some Bad Things I Noted:
This has been an issue in recent weeks, but came to a head this week. Both Fox and Tim Tebow have struggled with time management. Between the delay of game calls and using time outs to stop those penalties, we had major issues. In relation to Fox it seems to be that he's still developing his game plan and making adjustments on the fly, and it's showing in terms of play calling from McCoy and slow pace of the game this week. Now in terms of Tebow, he seems to be trying to read the defenses coverage and he is able to do it, just at a delayed speed. He is struggling between getting the play off and not knowing the defense's coverage or taking his time and possibility of taking a penalty. Now this is very fixable for both men, but I seriously hope it's fixed soon.
Clady's Bad Streak:
I think everyone here knows Ryan Clady isn't playing like his old self, that's undeniable, but these past two games have shown me a disturbing trend. The first is his penalties, he's the 2nd most penalized offensive lineman in the league, that's terrible. But what makes it worse is he is committing these penalties to mask his worse play. Watching his play specifically these past two weeks have backed this up, he's actually been lucky he hasn't been called for holding more often than he has because he's using it to try and compensate for his overall poor play. Now he may be our best lineman, but his penalties are a symptom of his poor play, and that needs to be changed or our offense is going to struggle.
Tebow, Tebow, Tebow:
Read that like "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha." Now I generally avoid talking Tebow, but this format requires that I talk about him. We knew Tebow could run and he showed us that this week, but he showed the same issues as last week in the passing game. It was usually hidden by some of the worst coverage play I've seen by the Raiders in weeks. He is throwing behind his receivers and he's throwing low, which is fine on some plays, but not on the routes he throwing low on. Now it's going to be okay Tebow-ites, I'll discuss this later and how it's not all bad.
Secondly Tebow is constantly flouted as a strong character player, with a massive drive, but at this point it's killing him on the field in the passing game. Kyle Orton was a strong rhythm passer, but has the calm to keep his cool. Tim Tebow is also trying to be something he's not He's trying to be a rhythm passer and it's bad for him. You can see the physical frustration on his face and when he misses a few passes in a row, it gets worse. He begins to try and force it and that was a major concern. Like I said above, this is also something I'll discuss later, so calm down and finish reading the article.
Some Good Things I Noted:
Defense Looking, and Coached, Different:
Something that has been eluding our defense this season has been turnovers. Despite two quarterbacks who are good at eliminating turnovers, our turnover differential has been terrible and it's because we are creating turnovers. Dennis Allen made some FANTASTIC coaching changes these past two weeks. What he has done has more to do with weekly practice changes rather than in game changes, but it's having a huge effect. He's coaching players to fight for the ball. Now Chicago's head coach Lovie Smith is the best in the league at this and Charles Tillman is the best player at showing this. When going in for tackles he always aims to punch the ball. Coach Allen took a note from this and it's having an impact. When you rush a passer you want one of two things to happen: A. you get to the QB and sack him or B. you force him to throw the ball before he wants to. Now we've been getting pressure, but our secondary hasn't been going after the mis-thrown ball. All that has changed and we saw the results last week, We've also seen our players punching the ball. Now I specifically looked for this and there has been a change in the past two weeks. We didn't do this early in the season. Allen, good coaching.
Speaking of Coaching:
There are many opinions about D.J. Williams and that's fine, but one thing I will note is that his grasp of our team's front seven is impressive and his on-the-field adjustments are very effective. He does have flaws in his game, but he is causing some chaos up front and we are being much more aggressive. Now I obviously don't know what the coverage looked like before Williams created motion or how it would have affected the play, but I can say from my vantage point, he's doing a great job commanding our defense.
Tebow, Tebow, Tebow (Again):
Now I promised I'd talk a bit more about Tebow so I will, to keep the masses happy. When I did my one and only complete Tebow review, I made a check list on Tebow's style of play. A number of vocal people said I was way off base, but since then I have been watching Tebow play and he's checking my boxes off. Here's a quick reminder of what they were:
What Tebow's style is good at:
- Deep passes, though not accurately, but these passes will be a bigger part of the offense (Tebow, McNabb, Roethlisberger and Newton)
- Mobility will allow for rolling out more successfully and moving past the line of scrimmage (All quarterbacks)
- Size makes him hard to tackle (All Quarterbacks)
- Screen game (Tebow, McNabb, Newton)
- "Chunk" offense, lots of big plays (Tebow, Roethlisberger, Newton and Young)
What Tebow's style struggles with:
- Accuracy will always be an issue, topping 60% is unlikely (Tebow, McNabb, Newton and Young)
- Use of the slot, due to inaccuracy, rarely leads receivers well (Tebow, Newton, Young and Roethlisberger)
- Will take more sacks and hits than an average quarterback, quite a bit more (All quarterbacks)
- Injuries will plague this style (Tebow, McNabb, Young and Roethlisberger have all missed time)
- Timing passes, due to instability to sit in pocket and slower release will disrupt these passes (Tebow, McNabb, Young and Roethlisberger)
- Along with the "chunk" offense, low 3rd down conversion rate and consistency (Tebow, Roethlisberger, Newton and Young)
When I did that study on Tebow I related him to four other quarterbacks: Donovan McNabb, Vince Young, Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton. Now as time has passed, it's clear which quarterback he's going to be like, just in terms of skill set and style of play. He's far to different from Newton and Young in terms of accuracy and decision making. That leaves Roethlisberger and McNabb. Now Roethlisberger is similar to Tebow in terms of how he runs his offense, the "chunk" offense, big gains but not consistent. But McNabb is almost exactly the same as Tebow, just at the next level. McNabb and Tebow both are able to minimize turnover, McNabb is actually one of the best, if not the best in NFL history. Both are inaccurate on a regular basis. Both prefer to go deep and to the outside and avoid the middle of the field. Watching Tebow is watching someone develop McNabb's play, just a notch below. So Tebow's struggles are going to be okay as long as he takes the next step. He can't win regularly at his current level, but his style of play has succeeded in the NFL, Tebow just has to take his passing to the next level.
Play Calling FTW:
I know a lot of fans were skeptical last week about the play calling. Thankfully we had a number of people write saying the play calling was much improved, because it was. And this week we saw more improvement. Mike McCoy really focused on the option plays, more than I've ever seen in the NFL. On almost every run play by a running back, Tebow was given the option to keep the ball and run it himself. Because of that, he was able to shred the Raiders defense. Now will this be a big part of the offense or was it specifically designed to beat Oakland's fantastic front four? I'm not sure, but I can say McCoy is really fighting to keep his job next season.
I would also like to give a shout out to McCoy again for another reason. I once heard Trent Dilfer, a bad QB but a great analyst, and Jerry Rice talking. They came to the agreement that receivers constantly being open was a sign of a scheme that was working. Rice said even average or bad receivers could get open if there was a good scheme in place. We saw that this week. On both touchdown passes our receivers were wide open, Decker had a good two to three yards, and that was due to a great route, and Royal was called into the perfect route to blow the Raider's zone coverage apart, and they paid big both times. Our receivers are getting open much more often than they used to at the beginning of the season, and it has the potential to pay off. So props to McCoy again.