Why Tim Tebow Can Thank The Miami Dolphins

Tom AndoContributor IMay 28, 2009

GAINESVILLE, FL - APRIL 18: Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the University of Florida rushes upfield during the spring football Orange and Blue game April 18, 2009 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

As it stands now, the football world is preparing itself for one of the greatest debates of all time. 

It's still 11 months away, but experts, fans, general managers, and coaches alike are all going to weigh in on one question: What in the world is going to happen to Tim Tebow in the National Football League?

Currently, Tebow is one of the most decorated athletes in college football history. He has captured two National Championships as a Florida Gator and a Heisman Trophy to boot. He has a chance to surpass all others in the discussion should he accomplish either of those feats again this season.

However, like many other great college stars, it won't necessarily equate to success at the next level, right? Keep reading.

It's a sad fact, but the NFL may disregard what Tebow has done on the field due to the professional struggles of another man, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. 

Smith played collegiately at Utah under current Florida head coach Urban Meyer. See where this is going? 

Smith was a stud for the Utes and at 20 years old was the first overall selection of the 2005 NFL draft.

Smith, like Tebow, played in Meyer's spread offense that requires the quarterback to take most snaps out of the shotgun. It also puts a lot of emphasis on a signal-caller's running ability. 

When Smith got to the 49ers, he had to be taught to run an offense from under center, which is a more difficult transition than one would imagine.  Smith actually fumbled the first snap he attempted in this traditional sense in his first practice as a 49er.

So the question is, why would somebody take a chance on Tebow as a quarterback when it is clear as day that Smith has been a bust to this point? 

True, Tebow has been even more successful than Smith was in Meyer's offense, but the fact remains: Tebow might still be a gamble for an NFL team.

So where do the Miami Dolphins come in to play?  Here it goes.

In 2007, Arkansas offensive coordinator Steve Bush continued to run the offense installed by his predecessor Gus Malzahn (currently holding the same position at Auburn). 

The offense, known in Arkansas as the "Wild Hog," featured running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones often lining up in the shotgun, confusing defenses as to where the play would go. Sometimes they would run, sometimes they would hand it off to another player, and sometimes they would pass. 

This would land McFadden, also known as Run DMC, as back-to-back Heisman runner-up and also a spot on the cover of NCAA Football 2009. Both backs were drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft. McFadden went fourth overall to the Oakland Raiders and Jones 22nd to the Dallas Cowboys.

Bush left Arkansas to become quarterbacks coach of the Dolphins, serving under offensive coordinator Dan Henning. In 2006, Henning, then offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, attempted to run a similar formation to that of the Arkansas offense. He used running back DeAngelo Williams, but the experiment lasted just one drive. 

This formation did not return to the NFL until 2008, when Henning and Bush may have changed the way offense as we know it is played.

In a game against the New England Patriots on September 21 of last year, the Dolphins used the formation six times and scored five touchdowns in a 38-13 upset. The star of the show was running back Ronnie Brown, who resurrected the Dolphins' season as well as his own career in one game with one formation. 

Throughout the remainder of the year, Brown, fellow running back Ricky Williams and quarterback Chad Pennington could be found at any of the skill positions on any given play, leaving defenses stumped. The Dolphins won the AFC East, but affected the entire league as well, with most teams trying to install some sort of this formation, now referred to as the "Wildcat".

Enter Pat White, the former University of West Virginia star quarterback. White ran a very similar type of offense as Tebow and Smith did under Meyer, doing most of his work from the shotgun. 

In his four years as a Mountaineer, White piled up stats (103 total touchdowns, 56 passing and 47 rushing) and victories (34, good for sixth all time in NCAA history). He was the first quarterback to lead his team to four victories in bowl games as well making him one of the most decorated players in college football history (sound familiar?).

However, heading into the NFL draft, it wasn't sure exactly where White would play when he takes his game to the professional ranks. On draft day, White was projected to be drafted all over the board, depending on which "expert" you prefer. 

Regardless, it would have been a shock if White was drafted in the second round, until of course, the Dolphins selected him. With White, Bush and Henning now have a quarterback that can run and throw effectively, something that might come in handy for, oh let's say, the Wildcat formation.

Back to Tebow and the debate we are scheduled to have once he steps off the field for the final time as a Gator. 

What in the world will happen to Tim Tebow in the National Football League? If the Dolphins use White correctly in their Wildcat, and they more than likely will, that makes Tebow a slam dunk for this new pro-style offense. 

The NFL has always been a copy cat league, and if nothing else, the Dolphins proved that last year when everybody mimicked their offense. So by drafting White, and ending a debate on what the league would do with a player of that versatility, the Dolphins have laid the groundwork for Tebow. 

While the "Wildcat" has already begun to take effect, it is possible that Tebow is going to be the ultimate weapon for whatever team drafts him, yes, as a quarterback, not a tight end or whatever else it's rumored he should play.

Bill Walsh once came up with a new offense in Cincinnati, but didn't perfect it until he had the perfect quarterback in Joe Montana to run his scheme when he got to San Francisco as a head coach. 

Montana wasn't supposed to be a great NFL quarterback either, but he fit an up-and-coming offensive system perfectly, so who is to say that Tim Tebow won't do the same? 

Thanks to the Miami Dolphins, we should get to find out.


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