When Broncos second year quarterback Tim Tebow was named the starter three weeks ago, Denver's coaching staff quickly adjusted the offense to fit his style of play. One of the plays that offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and quarterbacks coach Adam Gase implemented in the offense was the read option run.
Knowing that Tebow's legs are more of a threat to opposing defenses than his arm, the Broncos used the play several times successfully in Miami against the Dolphins in week seven before the Detroit Lions contained the play last week in Denver. Against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, the Broncos offense executed the play to perfection and ran for 298 yards on the ground.
The play is a simple one and is run by high schools and colleges across the country on a regular basis. In the screenshot below, you'll notice that the offensive linemen block down and the quarterback rides the hand off. The key to the play is the quarterback's ability to read the outside linebacker.
If the outside linebacker bites on the run and crashes down, the quarterback keeps the ball and runs (see below).
The Broncos ran the play several times early in the game and each time Tebow gave it to running back Willis McGahee and the play resulted in minimal gains. When Tebow pulled the ball and ran for the first time, the result was a 30+ yard gain.
After the outside linebackers realized that Tebow was a threat to run on the play, they started playing their outside contain responsibilities better, which opened running lanes for McGahee.
The Broncos ran the play seventeen times in all, with McGahee rushing for 125 yards off of twelve carries in the read option, including his 60 and 23-yard touchdown runs. Tebow kept the ball three times for 68 yards and reserve back Lance Ball saw two carries for three yards.
Denver is now 3-5 and just one game behind in the AFC West. The Broncos will travel to Kansas City (4-4) to take on the Chiefs next week and will play the Chargers (4-4) in San Diego three weeks from today. If the Broncos play as well against the Chiefs and Chargers as they did in Oakland on Sunday, they could find themselves back in the AFC West race very quickly.
Adjusting the offense to fit their players' skill sets played a huge role in the Broncos success on Sunday. It will be interesting to see what the team has planned for future games and how defense are able to defend the read option run down the road.
Field images were courtesy of Getty Images; screenshots courtesy of the NFL/CBS Sports.