This past weekend, I think I came to the realization that the NFL is at the edge of a shift in how offenses are built, particularly at the quarterback position. It’s not a big shift yet, but I won’t be surprised to see a duality happen at the position in the near future. Let me explain.
Against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Denver Broncos ran the ball on 55 plays and threw it on only 8… That’s running the rock 87% of the time! Granted, they were playing the Chiefs who rank near the bottom of the league in rush defense, but believe it or not, were a .500 team before Sunday.
I think we all know why too… Tim Tebow doesn’t have the ability to drop back and throw the ball down field on a consistent basis at this point. I’m not being a hater and yeah, he nailed Eric Decker with a perfect 56 yard dagger to seal the game, but ask him to do that 35 times a game and you’re asking for a slaughter.
The real question is why do we want to malign Tebow because he’s a bad pocket passer with a slow, looping release? In fact, why would we ask him to do that in the first place?
Here are two truths in football that are hard to deny. The first one was taught to me by my former offensive coordinator, now Saints head coach, Sean Payton, who transformed me as player. His method – forget your ideological pride and play with what you got. In a nutshell, no offense will work unless you play to the strengths of the talent on your team. I wasn’t a great ‘through the tackles’ runner, but once he and coach Mike Pope started drawing up counter plays, misdirection and “dick ‘ems” and letting me use my skills out of the backfield, I found myself as a player.
The second fact… More and more teams in college football are playing spread offenses where the quarterback is not classically trained. He’s not taught to drop back, read coverage, go through a progression, then deliver a pass. More and more quarterbacks are ridiculously gifted athletes whose role is to be the sixth ‘skill’ player on the field, with both his arm and primarily his legs.
I’m not saying there won’t continue to be the Aaron Rogers’, Eli Manning’s and Andrew Luck’s coming up through the college system, but I am saying there will increasingly be the Tim Tebow’s, Michael Vick’s and Cam Newton’s.
There is no right way or wrong way to win in the bottom line business of the National Football League. If the Broncos can get away with completing two passes a game, running the ball 90% of the time, and winning – more power to them. Playing to the strengths of their quarterback, a QB that has won 75% of the games he’s started this season, might actually allow them to win the AFC West. As bad as we perceive they are, they’re only a game out of first place….
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