This idea came to me at a bar. Well it was actually a bowling alley, but it was at the bar at the bowling alley… which sounds only slightly more lame. My friends and I were talking about how to get on the Amazing Race, sabotage The Hills, and how awesome it would be if Mike Ditka were on Survivor next season. Then this idea hit me and I kind of just sat on it the rest of the night and let it kind of bounce around my mind. I tried to just write it off as bad reaction from the beer and pizza, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that I am getting to that age where beer and pizza is always a bad reaction. As it turns out this idea is not all that original, I just never caught wind of it. I apologize in advance if this is a re-tread of an old topic, but honestly there’s not a lot to do right now except speculate and re-tread old topics… and watch re-runs of The Hills… which I would never do… even if it were already on TV... and the remote were on the other side of the room...
What I am about to suggest to you is something so crazy, so far-fetched, so off-the-wall ridiculous that I fear that my limited reputation among the readers of this site is about to get ruined. I'm a little concerned MHR might relegate me to the "You Aren't Smarter Than A Fifth Grader" writing section. I've gone back and forth on whether or not to share this idea but I'm in a rather self-destructive mood and it's like -13 degrees outside. So I'm rolling with it. Intrigued? I hope so.
Josh McDaniel's was working on bringing a Tebow style spread offense into the NFL. Boom. There. I said it. My cards are on the table. I can already hear the laptop lids slamming, cell phones being shut down, and the sighs of "Sweet Lord in Heaven will we ever hear the end of theories about this guy?"
But here me out! I've come armed with ideas and conspiracy, the two foundational pillars of other great ideas like we never went to the moon and Wikipedia. To fully understand my thinking I need to clarify “spread offense” and we have to go back to Josh McDaniel's as a Patriot.
Ted Bartlett of MHR of old wrote a great piece about spread offense here. Bottom line, the spread offense has become a reactionary term. People hear it and instantly form an opinion. It has been debunked as an NFL style offense and we hear this so many times that it seems to have become simple truth. It has almost come to the point that to even suggest the legitimacy of the spread in the NFL is paramount to intellectual suicide among your peers. It would be like suggesting the original Star Wars is lame and that Jar-Jar Binks was necessary (you've got to appreciate that when I hear the phrase intellectual suicide my next thought is Star Wars and J.J. Binks). The reality of the spread, though, is that it is really nothing more than an offensive philosophy and many teams in the NFL use it to varying degrees already, it’s just not always called the spread.
Hopefully we don’t get hung up on the “can the spread work in the NFL” argument. I feel like the spread does have its purpose in the NFL, just never as an every down type of offense. Forming a strong opinion on "Spread Offense" is like forming a strong opinion on "Mexican Food". It's simply too broad a category to have a strong opinion. We need to know the type to really get a great debate going. The real argument should be is the option spread a viable NFL style offense? What I would like to suggest is that McDaniel’s was preparing to introduce an Option-Style Spread with Tebow. Not as the whole enchilada, mind you, but as a strong theme throughout his offensive strategy.
The Patriots are probably the closest NFL example to a spread style offense. You line up 4 WR’s, empty out your backfield, put your QB into the shotgun and let the fireworks go (there’s a great double entendre buried somewhere in there). This is different than, say, what Tebow ran in Florida as he always ran the option, something Brady wouldn’t have been too keen on. Still, the philosophy is the same. Spread the offense from side to side and create mismatches on your receivers. Force the defense to cover the whole field. In fact, it could be argued that whenever a team empties out their backfield and brings out 4 WR’s to stretch the field they are a running a spread style.
Let's consider McDaniel's background and Bronco history for a minute. McDaniel's has long been lauded as the successful developer of Tom Brady, arguably the most successful QB to ever play the game. He also brought a relatively no-name, no-hype QB in Matt Cassel to the forefront of the NFL in one season. McDaniel's is an offensive genius... and he knows it.McDaniel's has had unmatched success with his Patriot offense (one that uses a strong spread variation).
When Josh McDaniels became the head coach of the Denver Broncos it was easy to get giddy with excitement because the Broncos had quite possibly one of the most promising young QB's in the game, Jay Cutler. The problem was Cutler couldn't seem to get to that next level. Bring in McDaniel's and what do you have? Well you have a match made in heaven and I thought for sure we were on our way to being playoff contenders right away.
Then we traded Jay Cutler. I was stunned. My friends were stunned. My dog was stunned. What were we thinking? I didn't even like the guy very much but to trade him away for some picks and Kyle Orton? Are you kidding me? I had to listen to my friends from Chicago smugly claim the Bears just made out like Lamar Odom in a candyshop. After we traded Brandon Marshall I am willing to admit going through a phase of Sean Mullins and Savage Garden. But like every Bronco fan I rebounded as quickly as I faltered when the Broncos went 6-0 to start the McDaniel's era.
The story after our 6-0 start is a told one. We became only the second team since the B.C. Minnesota Vikings to miss the playoffs after starting a season 6-0. We entered the 2010 draft a thoroughly disgruntled and pissed off group of fans. I am willing to admit going through a Slipknot and Korn phase during the 2009 offseason. Then the draft happened and the Broncos made headlines for the first time since week 9 of the 2009 season. We reached for Tim Tebow at pick #25. If our fan base wasn't split enough, things were about to get real when the most lighting rod player in the entire NFL draft of the past 10 years went to our Denver Broncos.
Bronco Country was excited, confused, and not entirely sure how to handle this new development. Denver Post writers were hypnotized. This kid instantly changed the type of team the Broncos had to become, and that was a team that had new fans all over the country. When Tim Tebow was drafted, he was bigger than the Broncos entire organization, and to be quite honest that made even me, one of his biggest supporters, more than a little upset. If I wanted Tebow to learn anything from John Elway it would be that he should do everything in his power to become one with the Denver Broncos, where being a Tebow fan was no different than being a Bronco fan.
Then I began thinking, which is always the first step in every bad choice I ever made in life, why in the unholy world that is the NFL would Josh McDaniels, one of the greatest egomaniacs of his generation, one of the greatest pure passing coaches of my lifetime, choose to reach for a QB that excelled in an offensive style that had been, for years, considered unsuccessful in the NFL environment? Was it because it would be an immense challenge that if he succeeded at would instantly make him an NFL legend? Because if he did turn Tebow into a SuperBowl winning pure passer it could have. Tebow has the celebrity to be one of the greatest NFL athletes in history, just not the NFL resume. To be the man that was his mentor Josh McDaniels would have carved out for himself a place in NFL lore right up there with the best of them.
Yet, the more I began to think the more I began to realize that the team McDaniels was putting together was a team full of team players, not ego-maniacal position players like one might expect. Young men that could adapt to a certain style of offense, his style. I began to realize that what McDaniels was doing went far beyond just his star QB. He was building an offense that was quick, adjustable, big play oriented and ready to abandon long held pillars of the NFL.
Josh McDaniels is the extreme end of glamour-ball coaches. He loves the shotgun and he loves the pass. Yet, there is one extreme that has yet to be perfected in the NFL, and that is the extreme offensive style known as the option spread offense run by some college teams. I would be willing to argue to my death that Tim Tebow is the greatest spread-offense QB that college football, and by that America, and by that the world, and by that all of creation saving the possibility that Jesus Christ Himself picked up a football for the University of Texas A&M has ever seen. Urban Meyer was richly rewarded for recognizing Tim's talents and building an offense around them that simply exploded into one of the most dominate offenses in college football history. I would be shocked if any Gator fan out there could come here and tell me that the most exciting football they ever watched wasn't Tebow run his spread offense. I simply refuse to believe that McDaniels, with his wealth of quarterback knowledge, would see a future for Tebow where Tim wouldn't be able to use his legs and where Tim would be asked to hold steady in the pocket when 10 yards of field opened up in front of him. Maybe he really thought Tebow was just that great of an athlete or a passer and he could perfect him, but I'm not buying it.
Remember the stories of Josh McDaniels and Tim Tebow spending hours in the whiteboard room talking football strategy? You think they spent hours in there while McDaniels showed Tebow how he could change him into the greatest pure passing QB since Tom Brady while Tebow just nodded his head and said yes sir? Haven't we seen enough of Tebow already to know that while he might be a nice guy on the outside when you get him into a football conversation he has a very clear idea of what kind of QB he can be in the NFL and nobody is going to tell him different? Don't you think that when he and McDaniels started talking the conversation didn't go in a direction where both Tim and Josh realized that together they might be able to create the most dynamic offensive force the NFL had ever seen? Don't you think that kind of conversation could go on for six hours and into the future?
All of these things add up, at least in my mind, to the idea that Josh McDaniels may have realized that with Tim Tebow he had the greatest spread offense prodigy the country had ever seen, and probably wouldn't see again for another decade or more (speculation, sure). That kind of thinking makes reaching for a QB possible lest some team incidentally pick Tebow before McDaniels had a chance to grab him at his "value position". You tell me that when faced with his future McDaniels was willing to let Tebow slip from his grasp? Tebow wasn't a reach for McDaniels. Tebow was everything to McDaniels in that draft and he just had to figure out a position where he could realistically take this raw talent powerhouse without causing a revolt from Bronco Country.
If you ask me, McDaniels was preparing an offense for Tebow that was going to allow him to utilize his speed, size, and ability to introduce a type of offense that experts around the world said was simply not an option in the NFL. Did anyone else notice that in the second half of the Chargers game Tebow used his spread offense ability and was unstoppable to the #1 defense in the league? What better way for an egomaniac to prove the world wrong than to create the most exciting, unstoppable option spread in the NFL? I believe THAT was Tebow's initial purpose in the NFL.
However, like every big change Josh needed time and time was exactly what he didn’t have. Orton was the fill-in he could count on to work his regular offense while he prepared Tebow for his new one. Orton worked out so well that he got an extension. While Bronco Country was going crazy with Tebow anticipation, McDaniel's wasn't in a rush and needed to buy time to work out the kinks. He needed a couple years.Who predicted that the defense would fall apart like it did? It was just never meant to be.
What's Tim’s purpose now? To be the best conservative QB under John Fox he can be. It may not be as glamorous as McDaniel’s initial plans, but it is an offensive style that he can be successful in with much less pressure. Other than the spread, this is the kind of offense Tebow can truly grow in. Still, I would not be surprised at all if John Fox didn't recognize Tim's unique talents and create some kind of offensive scheme that would allow him to carry 5-7 times a game. The foundation was being laid, why not give it a shot if he continues to be successful?
So there you have it. It may be the craziest thing you've ever heard of, but remember, some people believe there is a Nazi internment camp under DIA, so now maybe it's the second most crazy thing you've ever heard of.
But really watch those videos of DIA… no really.