Pass-Happy NFL Could Be Perfect Hunting Ground for Denver Broncos' Tim Tebow

Aaron MeeCorrespondent INovember 11, 2011

In a copy-cat league, complete domination of your peers on the offensive side of the ball will almost always lead to other teams trying emulate your offensive scheme. They also invest a whole lot of time and money designing defenses to stop you.

In today's NFL, teams like the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots are the franchises that everyone is trying to be.

Well, almost everyone.

If last Sunday's divisional matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders is any indication of things to come, it appears that Denver is bucking the trend of being trendy, and doing what few teams ever try to do:

Be themselves.

One could hardly blame a coach for trying to run the same offense as the teams that are winning the big games. The problem is that a scheme loses its effectiveness when every team is building defenses to stop it.

This is why new trends are born and this is why the NFL is an ever-evolving league.

In all actuality you can credit the St. Louis Rams for berthing this pass happy brand of football as they were truly the team that changed the culture of a run-happy NFL at the turn of the century.

Their aerial attack took the NFL by storm back in the 1999-2000 season because NFL defenses weren't ready for it, and for the last 12 years, teams have been following the Rams' blueprint with varying levels of success.


Since the Rams won the Super Bowl in 1999, only three teams have won the championship without employing pass-happy offense: The 2000 Baltimore Ravens, the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers, who have become more finesse on offense every year since.

With the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots as the odds-on favorites to win it all this year, it's fairly safe to say that 10 out of the last 13 Super Bowl winners will have employed pass-heavy spread offenses.

And with that success comes defenses that are built around stopping the spread offense.

Defensive ends and 3-4 outside linebackers aren't drafted for their discipline. They are drafted to get to the ball. Most often in today's NFL, the ball is in the quarterback's hands.

Players who excel at collapsing the pocket and crashing to the quarterback are among the most sought after defensive players in the NFL. They come with a high price tag and are invaluable members of any team that has a fighting chance against Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady.

If you can't hurry the quarterback, the game will quickly turn into a simple game of pitch and catch for elite quarterbacks.

More and more teams are looking for quicker, ball hawking types of defensive backs. Players like Brian Dawkins are a dying breed. Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed are both amazing tacklers and great coverage guys, but these guys are incredibly rare.


A good cover guy that can't tackle gets it done as a cornerback nowadays. You can't make it as a great tackler that can't cover, not unless you make a team strictly as a special teamer.

All of this is great for Tim Tebow, as long as the Broncos stick to what they did against Oakland, letting Tebow be Tebow.

The truth in life, and on the football field, is that while it's not necessarily a bad thing to emulate those that have had success, most of the time you will be a poor man's version of whatever you are striving to be.

Being a poor man's version of anything isn't going to get you to the top.

Sometimes it is best to try to become the best version of yourself, rather than to strive to be something you are not.

Tebow was an amazing spread option QB in college. He wasn't just good. He was arguably the best ever at running that offense.

A lot of analysts discredit what Denver did against Oakland as a lack of defensive preparation.

The question I have is whether all the video tape in the world can prepare a defense built to stop Aaron Rodgers can be reprogrammed to stop a completely different kind of animal in just four days of practice.


Can you all of a sudden get DeMarcus Ware to stay disciplined and contain the outside edge of the line of scrimmage?

Can you expect a 200-pound cornerback to come up in run support and stop the 245-pound freight train that is Tebow?

You are essentially asking your defense for a complete change of identity over the course of a few days of game prep, and it's not a realistic expectation.

My guess is that the NFL as a whole is not ready for the challenge of stopping a well executed spread option offense. If there is one guy that can run it to perfection, it would be Tebow, who also happens to have quite the backfield sidekick in a rejuvenated Willis McGahee.

Tebow and the Broncos have enough talent to turn the NFL on its head for years to come. It cannot be denied, however, that Tebow must become at least an average passer for this sort of evolution to take place.

You don't complete a higher percentage of passes in college than the Manning brothers, as Tebow did, by accident. My hope is that his confidence grows while operating an offense to which he's accustomed, turning Tebow into a weapon again.

Perhaps the Denver Broncos' arch nemesis, the late Al Davis, summed it up best when asked about how he adjusted to life in California, after growing up on the east coast.

"You don't adjust. You just dominate."


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