DENVER, CO - JANUARY 08: Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos throws the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
When a person makes a prediction or analysis, either about a player's ability and skill or anything else, it's equally important to review that analysis after the fact to see how accurate you were. With the news that Tim Tebow would be starting the Miami game during the bye week, I spent hours looking over Tebow's gameplay and handed out my analysis of his strengths and weaknesses. While the article did cover a few other topics, the last thing I discussed were my professional opinion on Tebow. In the comments section some agreed and some disagreed with my analysis, to which I responded, lets wait and see. Overall there was a lot of good discussion. When it comes to predictions analysis, that is the nature we deal with. Now that Tebow has started 14 games and seen extended playing time in another game, the second San Diego game. With these games we can get a better picture of to see if his skill set fits my analysis. While we have to remember this isn't an article stating a ceiling to his play, rather his style. Just like we can know what type of quarterback Cam Newton will likely be, or Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy, so can we know what type of quarterback Tebow will be. It's not to say he's better or worse than any other quarterback, rather we are looking at his style of play. Similarly we can compare Peyton Manning's and Tom Brady's differing styles without discussing which is better.
Along with reviewing my analysis of Tebow, we will also look back on my analysis of the Chunk Offense to see if the Broncos trended to it more or less as the season went on. Now much of this will be reviewing material in these two posts, and while I will summarize each article, I encourage those who will be reading this to go back and look at the source articles.
Now that we have the introductions out of the way, let's get to the dirty details.
Reviewing the Chunk Offense:
A few brief excepts from my breakdown the the Chunk Offense:
Now the "Chunk" Offense, or the CO, has been around for some time, or at least parts of it has. Certain players played parts the part of the CO. But it came to rise by an effort of Bill Cowher and Bruce Arians (Now Steelers former OC) for their young quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. During Roethlisberger's first two season the offense was entirely focused on the standard ground and pound offense, relying on Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis to carry the offense and Roethlisberger not losing the game. He didn't even top 20 touchdowns till his fourth season, but in 2006 and 2007, after judging and determining they had something in Roethlisberger, they set out to create an offense that played to Roethlisberger's strengths. Cowher and Arians drew heavily on Andy Reid's offense that he built around Donovan McNabb, although with a different mindset because they didn't have the receiving talent Reid had in Philly.
Key parts and indicators that make up the Chunk Offense:
- Strong use of the quarterback in the red zone
- We see a large percentage of long passes.
- Quarterbacks will take a high level of sacks but they are seen as a reliable risk due to the quarterbacks size and mobility to buy time.
- Along with this comes one of the biggest factors of the CO, the difference between yards per attempt and yards per completion.
- Y/C is generally a bad statistic because a QB can go 1 of 30 for 99 yards so his Y/C is 99 yards. That is why yards per attempt is much more useful, it would show the QB's worth a bit better with 3.3 Y/A.
- Despite this comparing Y/C to Y/A is a good way to look at what type of quarterback you have.
- So when it comes to Y/C minus Y/A the average NFL QB has a difference of 2.7. This is because accuracy isn't key in this offense.
- Running backs are key, though how they are used vary, either in the run game or in a simulated run game (screen game).
There are some that may say "so what?" Well these basic foundations for the CO are contradictory to most major offenses in the NFL today. While some teams may have bits and pieces (Detroit, Carolina and Tampa Bay run an offense that is shifting towards this, and Green Bay runs this though accuracy and consistency plays a much bigger role in their offense) but none run it like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Now the Reid CO is a variant of the WCO that has shifted and the Roethlisberger-Arians CO is also a variant yet both are coming to the same conclusion, big plays built off the run/screen game, and both have been wildly successful.
Now with that summarized, I will say as the season went on, it became more and more clear the Broncos were applying the game plan presented by the Chunk Offense. If you want to see how I apply the Chunk Offense to Tebow's play, since the Broncos actually fit the mold better than I expected, I have nothing new to add that I didn't discuss more deeply in the original article.
Reviewing My Tebow Analysis:
Let me do a quick review of my introduction to my comments on Tebow:
Now this isn't meant as a judgement of his play so far, but to gauge his strengths and weaknesses. After I did this I set out to find three players who have the same skill set as Tebow and look to see if these players all have the same strengths and weakness as Tebow. The players I decided to use are Donovan McNabb, Vince Young, Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton. Now not all these are perfectly similar to Tebow, namely Big Ben, but Roethlisberger's offense will be a focus of this discussion.
When looking at Tebow he, like all quarterbacks, has strengths and weaknesses. Let's take a quick look at a few facts about Tebow and his style of play and we'll use Tebow as well as the other four quarterbacks to get a better, more rounded picture of Tim the quarterback.
These same principles are the basis for which I did my analysis, and here's what I found.
- Deep passes, though not accurately, but these passes will be a bigger part of the offense
While under McD's offense, the Broncos went deep quiet often no matter who was QB, the percentage went way up once Tebow took the reins. Tim Tebow lead the league in deep attempts, with 23.2% of all attempts going 20+ yards, nearly 1 in 4. The deep passing game was a huge part of the offense, which we've mentioned already in the Chunk Offense review. But like I said, while we would go deep very often, Tebow's accuracy ranked 28th in the league in accuracy with only 31.7% completion percentage for passes over 20 yards. Despite that, the long passes resulted in most of the passing games production and was the key to a number of wins that the Broncos had.
- Mobility will allow for rolling out more successfully and moving past the line of scrimmage
I don't know anyone who disagrees with this comment, with Tebow rushing for 660 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also averaged 5.4 yards per carry, leading the team. But as the season went on Tebow's running ability was shut off more and more as teams were better able to prepare for it, the best examples of this were the second New England game, the second Kansas City game and Buffalo. I don't expect that the running game will disappear, and I hope it doesn't, but using it more sparing, especially the Option, which is very dangerous if used at the right times that capitalize on the defensive schemes.
- Size makes him hard to tackle
Along with the previous item, this was made clear during the season and really doesn't warrant much discussion.
- Screen game
Tebow has great accuracy in the screen game, completing a personal best 57.7% of all his passes to the screen. He was able to look off defenders well and make the throw. The problem is he is still developing the ability to help the play develop and get yards after the catch, his screen yards per carry was 22nd in the league with 4.6 yards per reception. Hopefully with time he'll be able further improve this strength and really maximize his abilities.
"Chunk" offense, lots of big plays
Like some of the things we've discussed already, as well as reviewing the Chunk Offense, this analysis has proven itself correct.
Accuracy will likely always be an issue, topping 60% is unlikely
This is the most debated topic surround Tebow, but I'll say what I said in other places, Tebow's accuracy isn't a huge need as long as it improves. If he can get it up to around 55% he will likely be able to lead an offense much more efficiently. The biggest example I give of this is Donovan McNabb, who also runs the Chunk Offense. While I firmly believe that Tebow needs to improve his accuracy for the offense to run smoothly, but I don't think he'll fail if he doesn't get to the league average. Donovan McNabb, considered the 3rd best QB for the entire 2000's, who had a career completion percentage of 59% and only topped 60% for a whole season four times out of his 12 seasons. Reaching 55% will help the offense, help Tebow and will stabilize the team, but after watching him this season and last season, I can expect 60% won't be a regular completion percentage for him.
Now a topic that has become common recently is if Tebow threw it more, he'd be more accurate and I wanted to put that idea to the test and a short time ago I came to these results:
When comparing QB’s, you make a good point on sample size, but something to keep in mind is where Tebow fits in QB’s with a similar number of attempts. If your theory holds true, most QB’s would have a higher completion percentage between 300+ attempts compared to 200-300 attempts. Here’s the actual numbers on that though since 2000:
QB’s with 200-300 attempts: 59.2% completion percentage
QB’s with 300+ attempts: 59.7% completion percentage
So really completion percentage remains unchanged when throwing more and actually the median completion percentage is lower with more attempts because the mean is massively off-set by a few top tier QB’s throwing in the upper 60% and 70% area while most of the QB’s who throw the ball for over 300 times are much less accurate.
So you are right, out of 10 attempts if you miss just 1 it weights more than if you attempt 20, completion percentage does not rise with more attempts, it actually remains the same. If you compare the accuracy of QB’s who accuracy fluctuates regularly, take McNabb for example, they are most accurate with fewer passes, the more passes you make a boom-or-bust QB like Tebow and McNabb throw, accuracy doesn’t changes.
To sum that up, the more you throw doesn't really alter your completion percentage, if you are accurate in a small sample size you are usually more accurate in a large sample size and the same applies to inaccuracy.
We'll talk more about accuracy later in the article.
- Use of the slot, due to inaccuracy, rarely lead receivers well
This is one that may seem strange since Tebow is accurate when it comes to slot passes, completing 52.9% of his passes, but his struggles to fit the ball into a small hole is what makes the strength of the slot, yards after the catch, disappear. The slot is becoming one the biggest tools in the NFL, with the rise of guys like Wes Welker making plays from the slot. What matters when it comes to slot play is the ability to lead receivers who have a gap between them and the defender and letting them catch and run. We saw Tebow's best example of this in the game winning pass against Pittsburgh when Tebow hit DT in stride and that was the game. Like Tebow's accuracy no one is saying Tebow can't make these throws, it's he doesn't make them CONSISTENTLY. The main reason for Tebow's struggles in this area is his long release which can throw off a WR's pace and make him slow down or lay out to make the catch. With the increase in quickness in Tebow's release, this weakness could be overcome, and like the screen game, he can really capitalize on it.
- Will take more sacks than an average quarterback, quite a bit more
Like the deep passing game, this is something that is very easy to track, and it's proving true. Tebow had a sack percentage of 9.9% in his starts, which when you factor in hits is 19.1% of his dropbacks, which is 2nd behind Sam Bradford for QB's with over 10 starts. Just due to the nature of Tebow's play, he's going to escape some sacks, he will also take more sacks while on the move. Mobile QB's have always taken more sacks than pocket passers, the history of the NFL shows that, I don't expect Tebow to buck the trend, but if he can improve his pocket presence that number should go down to a more reasonable number.
- Injuries will plague this style
This was another thing people had some issue with as well, but in Tebow's two seasons he's had two play altering injuries, the first took place against Cincinnati in the 2010 pre-season where Tebow suffered a rib injury on a TD run and missed the following game. The second took place this season where he once again suffered an injury in the playoffs against New England, and after rewatching that game, you can see his ability to throw went down substantially. While Tebow's size does insulate him from injury, he's not immune, and he will be suffering injuries throughout his career, as we've already seen in his previous two years.
- Timing passes, due to instability to sit in pocket and slower release will disrupt these passes
We already discussed this.
- Along with the "chunk" offense, low 3rd down conversion rate and consistency
As we discussed the Chunk Offense earlier, this has already been mulled over.
After comparing my analysis prior to Tebow taking over to after the season, I feel I was accurate in my original analysis. Now as I mentioned at the beginning, this isn't a ceiling for Tebow or a conclusion of his abilities, rather it's gathering of the facts we are given and presenting them. I've updated my analysis of Tebow and adjusted it as we've seen him play more and more and I'll continue to compare his play to my template next season to see the accuracy and adjust. But I will say this, while it's by no means a ceiling it does layout the type of player Tebow is going to be, and as I said before the draft, after 2010 and after this season, the best comparison I have for him is Donovan McNabb, who isn't a bad guy to model after.
As I said at the start and in the original, this isn't the typical pro-Tebow/anti-Tebow post, but I wanted to get these thoughts out there, and since I believe in accountability, I felt the need to dig up these articles and see how they held up after the season has ended, and I feel confident that both of my analyses were fairly accurate. T Now these are a few examples of other players, some more successful most are not successful, but Tebow can succeed with his overall style of play, but he isn't as good at this style of play as those listed, but they are where his potential can lead. We as fans need to keep in mind the strengths and weaknesses of Tebow's play and not ignore either just because we support or don't support him. Hope this was educational, I know I learned quite a bit rewatching the past two seasons to write this.
For those of you who made it, bravo, this can be disgustingly thick reading, if you have someone nearby ask them to pat you on the back, if no one is nearby, pat yourself on the back and know it's from me, because if I hadn't written this, I likely wouldn't have finished it. For those who didn't actually read it, it basically says the Broncos offense likes big plays and Tebow has both strengths and weaknesses and with that he has potential to grow and succeed in the NFL.