Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos Can't Play "Tressel Ball" Tonight

Brad WashingtonCorrespondent IIJanuary 14, 2012

Tim Tebow continued his incredible run last weekend
Tim Tebow continued his incredible run last weekendJeff Gross/Getty Images

Last weekend, Tim Tebow helped orchestrate one of the biggest upsets in playoff history by leading the Denver Broncos past the defending AFC champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers, 29-23 in overtime.

Tim Tebow only connected on ten of his 21 passes, but with those ten passes he threw for an outstanding 316 yards, setting the franchise record for quarterback rating (125.6) and an NFL record for yards per completion (31.6).

The win helped show not only the coaching staff's trust in Tebow throwing down the field, but also displayed Tebow’s often-doubted arm strength as he made deep pass after deep pass against the number one ranked defense.

Although the Steelers were evidently hampered by injuries, it’s still no excuse, as you are in the NFL for a reason.

Tonight, the Broncos face off against the New England Patriots in the divisional playoffs. As seen a few weeks back, the Broncos literally self-destructed against the Patriots with turnovers, bad defense and not allowing Tim Tebow to throw effectively and play to his strengths.


To the Steelers defense, Tim Tebow’s success last weekend was essentially a blown game plan, as the Steelers frankly didn’t believe Tebow could beat them with his arm throwing deep.

For Tebow, luckily the Patriots are 31st in the league in total defense and passing yards allowed per game. But he and the coaching staff shouldn’t expect the same mistakes that the Steelers made in their demise.

The two biggest problems that will concern the Broncos are: one, their tendency of playing not to win, but not to lose. And two, if the Broncos secondary can’t match up with New England’s receivers, whether they can count on Tebow to go pound for pound with Tom Brady.

It reminds me, very much so, of how Jim Tressel, formerly of Ohio State, would prepare himself against high-powered offenses/SEC teams that were more talented than the Buckeyes.


When I look at the losses to the 2006 Florida team, 2007 LSU team, and 2008 USC team, it wasn’t in my opinion that those teams were bigger, stronger, and faster. It was more of the conservative “Tressel ball” approach Tressel thought would work because it was successful in the Big Ten.

Great defense, special teams, not turning the ball over in the air and an effective ground game will only work versus a high-powered team if everything mentioned above works accordingly.

If it does work, then it will result in the win Tressel engineered against the Miami Hurricanes for the national title. If it doesn’t, then you will end up with the SEC stigma that Ohio State hadand how it’s perceived Tim Tebow can only manage in close games.

Finally, with the arrival of Terrelle Pryor, Tressel began utilizing his athletic talents at the quarterback position and allowed him to run and also throw, while trying (but not consistently) to keep the ball out of the opponent’s hands.


In the bowl games against Oregon and the SEC’s Arkansas, Pryor passed for a combined 487 yards, four passing touchdowns, and one interception. On the ground, he had 35 carries for 187 yards with many dazzling and memorable runs. Both games the Buckeyes won.

Tressel continued his scheme, but also let Pryor be him, and in turn it opened the offense.

Tressel also realized that playing not to win against very good teams with explosive offenses didn’t necessarily translate into victories. John Fox and his offensive staff must also realize they have a special dual-threat quarterback in Tebow, the way Tressel had Pryor, and must let him play to his strengths tonight.

Let Tebow throw deep, find schemes to get him to do dump passes, free the receivers to avoid tight window passes that he’s had trouble connecting on, and let him run the ball. Then, continue grinding the ball and playing defense respectively.

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Broncos soundly not only because of their defensive schemes but because the Broncos were too conservative and relied on Tebow to throw against the Chiefs' game plan.

It was too late then and the Chiefs were already successful, and if the Broncos do the same thing tonight then it could get very unpleasant.

Hopefully tonight, the Broncos play to win early and fuse Tebow’s style of play into their offensive regime.  New England has Tom Brady and that’s scary enough, but the Patriots have flaws too, and if Denver capitalizes on them the game will be very interesting.