Denver Broncos Offensive Line Having a Hard Time With the Arm-Crossing Pattern
So, we have officially begun the era (circus?) that is Tim Tebow.
His athleticism led him to have a good showing against the Oakland Raiders, in terms of running the ball, but his pedestrian completion percentage (50 percent) will...not...do.
But, is it all his fault?
He showed more of an arm than some expected. No, not that Jeff Blake style, "Ephus pitch" of a touchdown throw to Brandon Lloyd in the back corner of the end-zone. No, I am talking of a finely zipped deep out to Lloyd along the left sideline. I am talking about a deep toss on a center crossing route to Jabar Gaffney. I am even talking about the laser-beam pass to reserve running back Lance Ball in the end-zone. OK, so Ball dropped it...but there was pepper on that ball!
All of that aside, the real problems with the first foray into NFL starting quarterback for Tebow had little to do with his arm strength and more to do with his arm itself. He is a left-handed quarterback. This is where a solid young line, that has played well in recent weeks, was first made to "look the fool."
Not many fans think about what a change from a right handed statue like Kyle Orton to a left handed runner like Tebow does for a line. Most importantly? The blindside shifts. Left tackle Ryan Clady, who is a Pro Bowler and all around beast when healthy (has been healing from an off-season knee surgery and never fully healthy all year) is now the front side defender on the end of the line. That means right tackle Ryan Harris is now the man responsible for the most aggressive rushers for the opposing team. Not to mention blitz avalanches since Tebow is a rookie.
Making this change is akin to learning to cross your arms the reverse of how you normally would. If your right arm is normally over the top of your left, try crossing them with your left arm over your right. If left is normally top, try right. Feels weird, doesn't it? Unnatural. You have to think about it.
The Denver Broncos coaching staff had one week to teach this young offensive line, that saw constant lineup changes all year thanks to former coach Josh McDaniels and his "genius tinkering", how to essentially do something like my crossing arm example above.
This change does not only affect the tackles, the interior linemen are impacted too. Rookie left guard Zane Beadles, rookie center J.D. Walton and right guard Chris Kuper all have their blocking assignments altered to accommodate a more mobile, left handed quarterback.
Add further that new play caller Mike McCoy, who while wearing the title of offensive coordinator will call only his third full NFL game this Sunday, called an offense that most Division III college school's would call "vanilla" or "predictable" and you have a dumpster fire of an offense. As seen last week in Oakland.
Let's all hope that this week sees the Broncos' offensive line more comfortable reversing their proverbial "arm crossing pattern" and that it feels comfortable enough to let Tebow sling it a bit against the Houston Texans...and their 32nd ranked passing defense.
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