Tebow's Dropbacks, KC - and McCoy's Play-Calling

I figured I'd use my game rewind subscription before it runs out later this week to look at each of Tebow's pass attempts for the game, including sacks. Here's how I'm scoring. I'm looking at both play calling and execution, and I'm scoring each on a pass/fail/push basis. I give each play a "push" if the playcalling/execution doesn't have much bearing on the outcome of the play, or if it isn't clear to me.

Drive #2: 1st and 10. Flea-flicker. The announcers disagreed on if Decker was open, Phil Simms said he was. To my eyes, I think it could go either way. Decker had some separation, but he was cutting on an outward slant towards the sideline when Tebow was to throw, and Tebow was outside the hashmarks on the other side of the field. That's a much harder play that it looks, and the ball would have been in the air for a long time. I think it was a dumb decision to call that play at that particular time, as it was designed for Decker or no one (hardly any receivers, max-protect). Playcall: fail. Execution: push. UPDATE: Apparently Fox mentioned that Decker ran the wrong route. This would change my vote to a pass/fail (on Decker).

Drive #2: 3rd and 4. This is just after Kuper's injury. Tebow goes to his second or third read on this play, and short-arms a throw to Royal, who can't get to it. This is a good play call, and the execution isn't great. As far as the execution, it's tough to know who to blame. I think it's about what you expect from Royal - he probably has the smallest adjustment window of any Broncos receiver (Brandon Lloyd had the biggest). If you're going to complete a pass to Royal, it absolutely has to be a strike right down the middle, because he simply does not adjust to the ball. That said, I do think Tebow didn't have enough comfort level for this throw, and should have thrown it closer, so I'll put this more on Tebow. Playcall: pass. Execution: fail.

That's actually it for the first quarter. On to the second...

Drive #3: 2nd and 8. Fake option to right, rollout to left, throw in flat to Larsen, who sprains his knee. Simms is talking about giving Tebow some easy throws to build confidence, and that's exactly what he does. On top of that, Tebow pumps to draw in a defender and throws a nice catchable ball to Larsen, who gains most of the needed yardage. Playcall: pass. Execution: pass.

Drive #3: 2nd and 13. Tebow play-actions and throws to Thomas, who picks up a first down. What? We didn't run on 2nd and long? Playcall: pass. Execution: pass.

Drive #4: 2nd and 8. According to both announcers, receivers were very well covered. Tebow went to his second read, and threw the pass to Thomas. It was high, probably on purpose. Tough catch, but Thomas arguably could have caught it. Decker had a double-move that didn't fool anyone. Playcall: push. Execution: push.

Drive #4: 3rd and 8. This just looks like a dumb play call to me. You've got receivers screening each other out of the play in the middle of the field. Tebow does well to go to his alternate read and pass the ball quickly against the blitz. Decker is well-covered and the route isn't designed to get eight yards against good coverage. Playcall: fail. Execution: pass. UPDATE: firstfan makes the good point that the screen is probably a busted route, so I'd probably re-score this as a push/fail, on the receivers.

Drive #5: 1st and 10. There are only 48 seconds left in the half, and Tebow throws down the left sideline to Thomas, and it's nearly intercepted. I think it's a good play call. To me, it looks like Thomas is trying to get inside position against Brandon Carr, and gives up. That fits with my perception of Thomas so far - he's fluid and talented, but not aggressive. The pass looked on target if Thomas had managed to get the inside step on Carr. But just as strong an argument could be made that Tebow either should have aimed it different or not thrown it at all. Playcall: pass. Execution: fail.

Drive #5: 3rd and 9. They're in spread, the routes look evenly spread out at around the first-down marker, and the receivers looked to be doing their job. Tebow throws inaccurately to the right sideline and Thomas can't get to it. This one's clearly on Tebow. Playcall: pass. Execution: fail.

Half ends. So far we're at 6-2 for play calling, and 3-3-2 for execution, two of the failures on Tebow.

Second half:

Drive #6: 1st and 10. By now you know that KC is playing man-to-man. This didn't seem to be a play call designed to beat man-to-man. Tebow drops back, scrambles around a bit, and throws it away. They showed the all-22 film on this one, and every receiver was completely covered, on simple routes. Nothing for Tebow to do here except throw it away. Playcall: fail. Execution: push.

Drive #6: 3rd and 3. Was this a sprint-pass-option? Tebow rolls out on the bootleg and finds Fells. Excellent job. Playcall: pass. Execution: pass.

Drive #6: 1st and 20 (darn it Clady). I think Simms is a little easy on Tebow here. Tebow throws to Virgil Green *after* he cuts in (not his first read), but is hit on the blitz as he throws, and it's incomplete. Tebow could arguably have thrown it sooner by recognizing Green had position and throwing it as Green makes his cut. On the other hand, maybe that's too much to ask for a receiver that isn't a primary read (I'm assuming Green isn't primary because when has Green ever been primary?). But I'll score it as Playcall: pass. Execution: fail.

Drive #7: 3rd and 5. This is when Tebow had the face mask no-call. It's hard to tell what the play call was, but it looks like Tebow was looking for a fade to DT in the end zone, which doesn't seem like a good idea to me. But I think it's a push overall. Playcall: push. Execution: push.

Drive #8: 2nd and 6. Max-protect, Tebow back to pass. According to Simms, Decker was open twice on this play, although it looks like timing-wise it wasn't when Tebow was looking in his direction. Apparently Denver has been successful on this pass in the past. Tebow might have been tentative. Playcall: pass. Execution: fail.

Drive #8: 3rd and 6. Pass batted down. Playcall: pass. Execution: push.

Drive #9: 3rd and 6. Ugh. After a long sequence of runs, Denver calls a bootleg again, it looks like sprint-pass-option or whatever that play Montana was so famous for. But the receivers, oy. DT is covered on a fly. Decker can't beat the press and is basically trying to run through his cornerback. Fells releases, allowing his guy to eventually sack Tebow, and Fells also promptly runs right over to Decker, effectively covering him. Just a horrible job by the receivers. Playcall: pass. Execution: fail.

Drive #10: 1st and 10. Tebow tries throwing deep to Decker, incomplete, but there's an illegal contact penalty. It looked uncatchable anyway but maybe Decker wouldn't have pulled up otherwise. Playcall: push. Execution: push.

Drive #10: 2rd and 6. Denver tries picking the corners on the left side, and Tebow is eventually sacked. Simms praises Kansas City for snuffing it out, but I thought Tebow could have thrown quickly to Royal for the first down. Playcall: pass. Execution: fail.

Drive #10: 3rd and 7. Excellent coverage by the Chiefs. Playcall: push. Execution: push.

We're down to the final drive here, with 58 seconds left.

Drive #11: 1st and 10. Man, it's like KC knows the receivers' routes as they're running them. The corners are going to cover the spot where the receivers are aiming. Tebow throws to the only spot where Royal could have made the catch without a corner getting it first, but Royal isn't fast enough. You could argue that Royal's sat on his hesitation move too much, but I think it's more just from excellent coverage. Playcall: push. Execution: push.

Drive #11: 2nd and 10. Excellent coverage again. Tebow scrambles and throws it away. Playcall: push. Execution: push.

Drive #11: 3rd and 9. Pass to Thomas, roughing the passer. Pass, pass.

Drive #11: 1st and 10. Incomplete pass to Rosario. That looked catchable. Pass, fail (Rosario).

Drive #11: 2nd and 10. Incomplete pass to Willis. Again, catchable. Pass, fail.

Drive #11: 3rd and 10. Completed pass to Thomas, who runs out of bounds - good play. Pass, pass.

Drive #11: 4th and 2. Interception by Tebow. I don't understand the routes - crossing pattern in the middle by Ball? Time would run out. Fail, push.

So, there it is. I didn't try to categorize things by who the execution failures should be blamed on, but you can see in the notes. Overall, the scores on the pass attempts look like this:

2nd-half Playcalling: 11-2-4. 2nd-half execution: 3-6-8.

Conclusions: Overall, the play calling was much better than the execution in this game, at least in terms of the pass attempts. I didn't look at cases where a pass should have been called instead of a run, which I know is a huge part of the controversy, but in terms of what pass play to call when a pass play was called, it doesn't look like the play calling was bad. Overall for the game, I have the play calling scored as 17 good calls, 4 bad calls, and 4 pushes.

Execution is a different story. I have 6 well-executed pass plays, 9 poorly executed pass plays, and 10 pushes. Out of the bad plays, I have Tebow to blame for five of them, maybe six, and the receivers to blame for the other 3-4.

UPDATE: With the re-scoring, I'd have this as 18-2-5 for the play-calling, and 5-11-9 for execution. Of the bad plays, I'd have Tebow for 5-6, and receivers for the other 5-6 - equally responsible.

I think given that, it's hard to criticize McCoy too much for his lack of pass plays. When the execution is as poor as it is, you want to minimize the pass attempts. Here's the thing: we desperately need to improve BOTH our quarterback play AND our receiving play. Improving EITHER will contribute to improved play for the offense, but they are also both limiting factors. This is where an offseason will help a lot, I think. Neither Decker, nor Tebow, nor Demaryius Thomas has had a full off-season with the Denver Broncos, and they say that that first full offseason is huge and key for development of quarterbacks and receivers.

Before looking at this, I was furious at McCoy too, but this has tempered my fury a bit. I do think it's possible to get a better offensive coordinator, but it's not like McCoy is making a lot of dumb choices. What we need more than anything, though, is people that are skilled at developing talent in the offseason, both for the quarterbacks and especially the receivers.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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