Tom Brady's Passing Guru Puts Some Spin on Tim Tebow's Comeback Attempt

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Tom Brady's Passing Guru Puts Some Spin on Tim Tebow's Comeback Attempt
Charles Krupa/AP Images

A Tim Tebow comeback remains a very real possibility, as evidenced by Monday's news that Tim Tebow worked out for the Philadelphia Eagles, per ESPN's Adam Schefter

Tebow may not be on the Veteran Combine's invitation list, but he has been working for over a year with Tom House, a former major league pitcher who is now a co-owner of 3DQB, a performance center for quarterbacks and pitchers whose past customers include Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Carson Palmer.

House took a few minutes recently to talk to Bleacher Report about Tebow, what the former Broncos starter and Heisman Trophy winner is doing to improve his passing mechanics, and the science of throwing in general. House's system emphasizes efficiency, timing and "sequencing," the transfer of throwing power through the legs, hips and shoulder to the ball.

 

Bleacher Report: You started working with Tim Tebow in 2012. Have you been working with him continuously, or did he recently return to you?

Tom House: Tebow came for two weeks in 2012, and then he went and played [for the Jets]. I didn't see him that whole season. He came back when he was released by the Patriots [in 2013, at the end of training camp]. He's been pretty much a regular since he was released by the Patriots.

B/R: How did your relationship with Tebow start?

House: I think, the first time through, it may have been Drew Brees who told him about us. The second time, I know it was Tom Brady who said, "Get out and see what you can do with Tom House and his staff."

B/R: What was Tebow looking for from you?

House: His initial go-around was because he had accuracy issues and he had trouble spinning the ball. That's what we've been working the hardest on.

B/R: What were his strengths and weaknesses as a passer before he started working with you?

House: Well, he was strong. He was probably the strongest quarterback that I have ever worked with. But strength is only one piece of the puzzle. There's efficiency, timing and sequence.

He came to get better with accuracy; he came to get better at spinning the ball. He's doing that with me.

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

B/R: Why is spin so important?

House: If the ball doesn't spin true, there are issues with release point and where the wrist and elbow are. If the spin is there but the front side wobbles up and down, or the tail goes one way or the other, there's a mechanical flaw somewhere.

B/R: A wobbling ball is not as accurate or as powerful as the quarterback intended, right?

House: Yes. What you said was perfect. Muscling the ball out of sequence is one of many things that cause issues. What we've done is create measurables for the things that can go right or wrong.

B/R: What have you done to improve the spin on Tebow's throws?

House: Repetition, timing, sequence and mechanics. Nothing magic.


B/R: 
How often are you working with him, and for how many hours per day?

House: We've been seeing him about three days every week, year-round. Now, he works besides his time with us, but the time he spends working with us on skills, routes and all of those things works out to about two or two-and-a-half hours per day.


B/R: 
So he has homework?

House: He has homework. He also has his conditioning people. He has a support system that is second to none.


B/R: 
How many passes does he throw per session?

House: Not all of it is throwing. We have what we call "cross-specificity drills." He does a lot of throwing motions, but he only throws the football 60 to 65 times per day. When all the reps from the skill drills are added up, he's probably getting between 300 and 400 reps per day of the throwing motion.


B/R: 
Does he also work on other elements of mechanics, like dropbacks?

House: With "cross-specific drills," we add three or four different kinds of drops. We add being in shotgun or behind the center, and then go through the throwing motion. On the field, we'll block train, where he throws to a stationary target, then random train where his receivers will go through a route tree. So it's a combination of things.


B/R: 
Are you also working on reading defenses and the mental components of playing quarterback?

House: I'm a throwing guy. But I work with John Beck, who is an ex-NFL and CFL quarterback [Beck had stints with the Dolphins, Redskins and Texans after starring at BYU], and Adam Dedeaux, and they are pure quarterback coaches. They talk about receivers, reads, footwork. Between the three of us, we provide as much information and instruction as we can to all the quarterbacks who come through here.

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

B/R: Do you have Tebow watch Brady or other quarterbacks on film?

House: We try not to have him look at other people. It's not about other quarterbacks. It's how they interpret for themselves what our measurables are.

We have a model. Every quarterback looks different doing the same things under the umbrella of that model. If you watch Aaron Rodgers throw, it's different than how Drew Brees throws. And Drew looks different than Brady. But they all throw the football with efficiency.


B/R: 
Then does Tebow watch himself on film?

House: We do that all the time.

All the high-level quarterbacks perform a motion analysis when they arrive. Our eyes lie to us, but when you have eight cameras showing you things at 1,000 frames per second, you can identify, based on our model, where they come up short and where they're good. We teach to fix the problem areas we see in three-dimensional motion analysis.

We have one of the only coaching motion-analysis setups in the country. Eight cameras film simultaneously. The computer takes all that imagery and turns it into stick figures. We analyze those stick figures for efficiency based on our model.

We do it at the beginning, when they first show up. Then we do it on the exit to see the improvement. But for the most part, if these guys are doing the work with the right drills, they pretty much fix themselves.


B/R: 
What is Tebow doing differently now than he was the last time we saw him two years ago?

House: I honestly believe that everybody who was trying to help Tim, everybody who thought they "fixed" him, they probably did temporarily fix him. But Tim didn't have enough repetition for it to become autonomic. When he got into competition, with the stresses and anxieties that come with the competitive situation, he fell back to his old habits.

The difference now is that he has put in the reps. There have been 10,000-plus reps. If he gets a chance to play again and gets back to competition, it's hard-wired now. He doesn't have to think about it.


B/R: 
Tebow's delivery was idiosyncratic. Are there some things you don't try to correct in a quarterback's delivery?

House: If you give them proper mechanics, the idiosyncrasies go away. I think that Tim has found his efficient throwing motion. He did all the work. We just showed him the drills specific to his strength and mechanical requirements. He did the work to reinforce it.


B/R: 
Does that mean Tebow's motion is shorter or more compact?

House: If you remember the old Tim Tebow, or you looked at old film, then you look at it now, you could see the difference. What that means to him or to you or to my eyes isn't really important. What matters is that he is releasing the ball more efficiently, with better spin and accuracy, at the right time.


B/R: 
Does the fact that Tebow is a scrambler make a difference?

House: Whether or not you throw on the run, you still can't throw it until your weight's shifted. You still can't release the ball until the energy has gotten to your fingertips.


B/R: 
You said that Tim has his own conditioning people and support network. Does that take away some of the disadvantages of not being on a roster?

House: Tim's probably working as hard now without a job as he did when he had a job.

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

B/R: We all have opinions and preconceptions about Tebow. You have worked with him for years. What have you learned about him that the rest of us don't know?

House: He's real. What you see is what you get. He's a great kid.

I don't know why people would not like him. He gets along with everybody here. The coaches here love him. He's authentic. His intensity level is huge. He's a competitor.


B/R: 
What will coaches see if they give Tim Tebow a tryout?

House: They will see a more efficient passing motion, with more accuracy and more spin than they have ever seen before.

I can't see any reason why someone would not at least give him another chance. I'm not running the football world; I'm on the periphery. But for closure on everybody's end, it would be nice to see him get one more shot to make a ball club.

Why guess about it when all he needs is a chance to go play?

 

Mike Tanier covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

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