My QB Michael Vick is electrifying, and a terrific talent, and will almost certainly never win a Superbowl. The reason isn’t because he’s poorly coached or has a bad work ethic, it’s because Vick is a boom or bust type of player. Vick will run for 30 yard pick up one play, and they lose 5 the next. He swaps beautiful long throws with side-armed ones tipped by astute linemen to easy INTs. This is who he is, and you never know from one play to the next and one game to the next what you will get. That kind of inconsistency is not going to change, he has to play that way to get all he can out of his abilities – if he played is safer, he would limit his big play ability and would be just a short quarterback.
What does this have to do with Tebow? Tebow is the most anti-Vick running Quarterback possible to imagine. His speed is so-so, but his toughness and ability to get 2 yards if you absolutely HAVE to get 2 yards? Unmatched! This reliability and consistency is important and what is more valuable than Vick’s big play ability, as I will discuss below.
So, Tebow had his best game as a passer Sunday. He reminded me of a rookie Rothlisberger – remember when he never threw more than 15 or 20 times a game and won? He relied on a great defense and stout running game, and showed he could take a shot and still play well. In some ways, toughness included, Tebow has that quality.
But just because he reminds me of a Superbowl winning quarterback in some ways does not mean he’s going to be one himself. But what you have on your hands is a very special player, with strengths that the media are slooooowly waking up to, even as they discuss them they don’t seem to understand the implications. You have a guy who runs like Mike Allstot and, if he can throw as well as he did against the Vikings, will be very difficult to stop.
Why? Short yardage. According to Football Outsiders, before Tebow the Broncos converted 33% of short yardage situations. After Tebow? 67%!!! That is truly astounding and is a real game changer. It leads to:
1) Increased productivity in the red zone.
2) More reliable 3rd and 4th down conversions.
3) Short and steady gains which are productive even if they don’t hit a home run every time.
4) extending drives, and even when they don't result in points keeping the other team off the field, out of rhythm, and your defense fresh.
Of course Tebow doesn’t do this all by himself, but the fact that in a short yardage situation he can threaten the plunge just by being on the field acts like a play fake every snap, which the defense 100% has to respect. Think of a normal fake. The LBs read if the RB gets the ball – if they do, they know it’s not a pass and crash down. This is why it’s really hard to run when your opponent knows you are going to run, as soon as those LBs read run, they crash and don’t worry about TEs or drag routes.
Well, every snap, the runner they fear the most in short yardage situations has the ball in his hands. They simply cannot assume he’ll pass the ball – they KNOW if they don’t crash he can crawl his way to pick up 2 yards. At the same time, they know they have to stay back, since he can easily toss the ball at their vacated space if they do crash. The LBs cannot go forward and backwards at the same time.
Not that it’s this easy. TT is only human, and Fox knows he can’t simply run over and over, and there’s always a chance he’ll get hurt if he runs too much. But if he progresses to even average ability in the NFL throwing the ball, he’ll have that threat even if he doesn’t use it, and that threat is what makes him a very, very special player. With the right team, and the right coach working on his mechanics, I think he can captain a Superbowl winning franchise.