Deserves a breakdown. After the jump.
It's 3rd & Goal from the 14. Denver has 3 WRs and 1 back with Julius Thomas standing up to Tebow's right, with Britt Davis beyond him and on Tebow's far left, he has Matt Willis with David Anderson inside him in the slot. Lance Ball is on Tebow's left as Tim sets up in the shotgun.
At the snap, the line pushes Dallas' D-Line and rushers to the right, except for Clady who kicks his man outside and beyond the pocket. Momentairly this creates a perfect passing lane. Tim takes a short 2 step drop straight back and as he sees that (what I indentify as) his primary read, Thomas, has been double covered on a seam up the middle. Tim steps up while gaining speed with the ball at his left hip. He could throw from there (Anderson may have been able to make a catch in the back corner around then - but it would have been contested) but Tim may be better served to carry the ball a bit higher while he's in the pocket, even if he is scrambling. But that's picking nits. In the end, Tim leaves the pocket to his left with a full head of steam towards the sideline.
Tebow gets to the second level (beyond the LOS at this point by around 2 to 3 yard) quickly but finds himself walled off by the Dallas defense.
Then Tim is able to fend of a would be tackler (#26 Josh Thomas) with a great stiff-arm and then another great stiff arm to disengage from Thomas and simultanously pivots on the sideline leaving about an inch to work with. He then doubles back and finds a block from Herb Taylor and eventually Russ Hochstein as he looks upfield. Once he realizes that there is nobody directly in front of him (was he still looking for Thomas or Anderson?), he turns his head to the right slightly and sees Britt Davis coming towards him. Tim feels some pressure from the oncoming CB (#20 Alan Ball) and eventually tosses a soft, short pass over Ball to Davis that Davis catches and turns upfield, but that comes up short of the endzone.
And here are my reactions on the play (just my opinions, by the way):
The best part: Tebow is a beast. He's shockingly fast for a guy the exact same size as Dick Butkus (6'3", 245). He can throw with touch. And he has a killer stiff arm and with his legs, he can do EXACTLY what Ben Rothlisberger does with his legs (extend plays), but Tebow's much faster and elusive.
The worst part: If Tebow had better awareness he wouldn't have gone beyond the line of scrimmage. It's not like he was a foot or even a yard beyond it. He was 9 feet beyond it. In reality, Big Ben would have gotten beyond the Left Tackle and Right DE and turned his run towards the sideline at around the 15 yardline looking to pass (9:00) and at that time, he probably could have given Anderson a chance to make a play on ball.
Even worse than that, in my opinion though, is that it took him at least .75 seconds too long to get the ball to Davis and that he didn't recognize that the CB coming free at him as he ran back to the right was responsible for Davis and left the WR wide open.
Okay, lets pretend for a moment that Timmy didn't go beyond the LOS. Or that a few of the linemen had run upfield to block for his initial scamper and now were ineligible. Let's say that all was kosher up until the point when Tebow let go of the ball. It was still too late. Davis was wide open right around the 14:00 mark. The kind of wide open only Antonio Gates knows about. If Tebow throws the ball to Davis anywhere from the 14:75 to 15:75 mark and not 16:50 or so (when he did throw it), Davis easily scores a TD. And here's the thing. Tebow waited so long to throw the ball that he had to flutter it over Ball's (#20) head to get it to Davis. If he recognizes what's going on a tick earlier, he can get it to Davis when Davis can score BECAUSE he can rifle a pass to him before Ball gets between the two of them. That said, Davis ran way too far towards Tebow, so that certainly had something to do with it, but he probably kept running towards his young QB because Tebow wasn't noticing how open he was and when you have a QB scampering around back there, you're taught to come back to him and to give him a target.
To me, that, in short is why Tebow's not going to start, at least for now. Because even when he improvises and makes a great play with his feet, his recognition as a passer is still a tick late, just like when he is on a called 3, 5, or 7 step pocket drop with 2-5 progressions. Once Timmay can clean that part of his game up, he'll get the nod.
Said it last night and I'll say it again: Tebow doesn't have to be a better passer than Orton to win the starter job. But he has to be closer than he is today.
Here's to more crazy plays that make me stand up and shout at my TV.