After absorbing the seemingly endless limelight that sometimes comes with being Pat Bowlen’s brainchild, Tebow has been quite comfortable balancing both his football life on one finger, and his fall-back career as an author on the other. Turns out he’s the only player who doesn’t really need an agent.
Donning his usual Procter & Gamble Crest smile and sporting some kind of stylish pinstripe suit this past week; Tebow hasn’t been backward when it comes to appreciating his fans. In fact, if he were any more loving, he’d be probably be mistaken for a presidential candidate—finally having a full grown head of hair obviously helps out that cause.
But after the recent success of his new book “Through My Eyes”, Tebow has earned more media credibility than perhaps Brett Favre and Joe Namath combined. All the while, his god given moxie continues to grant the Broncos a positive rap, if only his hard work off the field could somehow multiply with itself to become great between the hash marks.
Of course, Tebow has his very own jury to please. He has a large—scratch that, enormous—group of fans who want nothing more than to see him flick Kyle Orton out of the way. But don’t let that fool you. Tebow also has a bandwagon full of naysayers too, and not for the first time, they bring up a valid point about Denver’s little goody two shoes.
If the other 31 teams are smart—which they should be if the NFL grants them a year away from the field—Tebow has fast become one of the most predictable quarterbacks around town. Sure, in the span of three meaningless regular season games, he hasn’t offered us much to mull over, but right now, he’s a problem easily solved if you’re a defensive coordinator. Making Tebow the very opposite of what every good quarterback should be—scary.
You see, no one other than Tebow has tried harder to master everything the NFL has thrown at him in his rookie year. He’s handled the media well—almost too well at times. And if there were ever as many critics as there were lovers, Tebow has certainly made admirers out of a few people after six rushing touchdowns in a worthless 2010 season.
But as well and good as all of that is, Tebow’s endless extracurricular activities away from the field have gotten in the way of his homework. Or should I say the playbook.
In fact, his new role as an author/motivator/celebrity speaker/all around good guy, has almost made us lose sight of his indirect NFL future. And if Broncomaniac’s were scared by Denver’s quarterback situation before, panic may become the next epidemic in Colorado.
So what Tebow needs to do is this: master John Fox’s chunky playbook before it’s too late. Unfortunately, that very same playbook features a lot of Josh McDaniels’ no nonsense pass plays. But then again, McDaniels wasn’t picked up by the St. Louis Rams for failing.
It’s safe to say that Tebow’s rookie season was kept as simple as possible. When he was placed as starter, Tebow was sent on a variety of run plays—particularly the Power O—which resulted in that memorable bounce to the outside touchdown against the Jets.
Tebow also spent a lot of time in the shotgun. Whether or not you value his five passing touchdowns is your own call. But in a 16-week season, those two plays aren’t going to win championships, let alone individual games.
What will win championships—actually, that’s a bit of a stretch—rather, what will win games, is the play action. The Broncos have the wide receivers, and perhaps the running back, to cash in on Tebow’s athletic ability.
Last year Denver’s red zone game was crummy under Kyle Orton, a quarterback who struggles to hit the target when the endzone shrinks. So to keep it three dimensional, at least under Tebow, Fox mustn’t be afraid of sending his second year quarterback outside of the pocket for exposure.
The Broncos shouldn’t be afraid of incorporating the run option into their offense, either. We saw it last year with Tebow on separate occasions. It worked. Magnificently. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to do it all over again in 2011. Obviously, someone needs to tell John Fox that.
But Denver does need to be careful on the ground game. It’s important not to ignore Knowshon Moreno, a running back who has to stand up next season if he has any hope of securing his starting role in the future. Yet more importantly, protecting your quarterback outside of the pocket is rule number one—and I’m not sure the Broncos have the lineman to do just that. Still, it’s worth a try.
There’s a lot that Tebow needs to learn, and quickly too. The playbook is one. The other, is familiarizing himself with the Broncos as a team, something Orton is beginning to establish after seeing success with wide receiver Brandon Lloyd last year.
Tebow also needs to work on his reads. It would be foolish not to expect a second year quarterback to throw an interception or two, but that’s what cost the Broncos so many scoring chances last season. Eyeing off cornerbacks and safeties is also important, as is accuracy. Two skills that will be improved simply through extended game time, if he can find it.
Tebow has mastered one book, and it only took him just under a year. That was nice to see. But the playbook would be a nice addition to Tebow’s ever growing library. And if nothing else, the lockout should provide him with enough free time to have a few solid study sessions.