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Published on 10/27/2011 at Thu Oct 27 09:30.
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The Broncos have athletic players on offense that successfully ran option plays in high school and college. (Images courtesy of Aaron Daye/The Gainesville Sun and Marvin Gentry/US Presswire)

The quarterback option is one of the most popular and successful plays in collegiate football.  So why are Pro teams so afraid to run it?

I’m no expert when it comes to play calling or how NFL coaches think, so bear with me.  I assume that the reason NFL teams rarely (if ever) run the option is because (a) the league has become a passing league and teams do not have the personnel to run the play, (b) most coaches are fairly conservative and the option is a somewhat risky play and (c) NFL defenses would ultimately find a way to shut down the play (which is what happened to the Wild Cat).

The Denver Broncos have the weapons on offense to run the play, so why not give it a try, just once or twice a game.  I know coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy are often accused of being ultra-conservative, but surely they must have some creativity locked away inside their football minds.

It’s time to get creative.  We all know second year quarterback Tim Tebow is not a pocket passer and is more productive on the ground.  And we all know that third year running back Knowshon Moreno is more productive in the open field than he is running between the tackles.

So here’s a suggestion to the Broncos: Get creative, open up the playbook and call plays that fit your player’s strengths instead of exposing their weaknesses.

Carolina’s doing it with Cam Newton.  It’s a copy cat league, so why not try copying what’s working?

The option is a simple play that keeps defenses on their toes and allows play makers on offense to make a move one-on-one and make a play (after all, that’s what they’re paid to do).  The quarterback rolls out with the option to either keep the ball or pitch it out to the running back, often depending on how the defensive end reacts to the play.

I wouldn’t mind if they didn’t even run the option.  All I’m asking for is some creativity on offense.  Adjust the offense to fit Tebow’s skill set.  Again, he’s not a pocket passer, so why waste time trying to make him one instead of letting him do what he does best.

Tebow does need to learn to keep his eyes down field and he does need to work on his accuracy, but he doesn’t need to change his whole style of play.  His style of play is what makes him what he is.  It’s high time the Broncos turn him loose and let him play his game.

Throw in some options and shovel passes.  We all saw how the Dolphins defense reacted when Tebow rolled left on Sunday — the entire defense flowed that way because of his threat to run.  The play was perfectly executed and set up a screen pass back to tight end Daniel Fells  that went for a touchdown late in the game.

Forget the plays designed for quarterback Kyle Orton that required loads of time in the pocket to execute.  This is Tebow's offense now. Let him run his offense the way he does best -- on the fly. Keep defense's jumping and put in some plays that fit Tebow's style. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

That’s what I like to see!  Use Tebow’s mobility to his and the offenses’ advantage.  Mix it up on offense, and put Tebow in position to make plays that he has always been able to make.

Tebow can handle an inside shovel pass.  Tebow can handle rolling out one way and throwing back across the field setting on a screen the other way.  Tebow can run more creative plays than a quarterback draw on every single third down in a game.  Tebow could handle an option, or even a triple option.

For goodness sakes, release the Tebow already!

This is my weekly request to you, Mike McCoy and John Fox.  Let Tebow play to the best of his ability by letting him play his game.  There’s no point in waiting until the game is on the line to say, “Screw it, go win the game, Tim.”  Give him the opportunity to win the game from the first snap.

We haven’t yet seen the best of Tim Tebow.  The best of Tim Tebow is buried somewhere in the Broncos playbook and has been since he arrived in Denver.  There’s never been a better time for the Broncos to showcase some creativity on offense — they’ll play like they did for the first fifty-five minutes of last Sunday’s game without it.

Am I asking for too much?  I can almost guarantee that the Broncos wouldn’t be disappointed if they let Tebow run an offense similar to what the Panthers are letting Newton run in Carolina.  This week is Orange Sunday.  Such a day would be a great day to display the best of Tebow.

Agree?  Disagree?  Down… set… go!

  • Anonymous

    The main concern needs to developing Tebow as a passer.  Period.  That’s why the game plan last week was so disspointing. 

    SHOVEL passes and the QB option doesn’t help the kid develop even one tiny little bit.  It showcases the stuff we already know he can do. 

  • T-Money

    I’m with you Jon!  The whole game last week I watched Tebow hand the ball off and then watched him watching the play.  When we had Plummer who was a good ground threat as well, you ALWAYS saw him tail off the play, in the opposite direction like he was keeping the ball.

    Not only did that open up the running game by keeping one linebacker and more than likely a defensive end, from cheating over on the play and crashing the hole.  If you got Tebow to run the same play… as a defense you have to spy the quarterback, play him as a runner AND a passer – on top of playing the run.   

    That may not let Tebow free like you were saying, but I know that it would open up some running lanes and keep the defense from stacking the box.  

    Bottom line:  Tebow + Play Action Bootleg = Creative Dynamic

    Creative Dynamic + Healthy Run/Pass Ratio = Dangerous offense.

  • Jon

    The game plan was disappointing and boring.  I know he needs to develop as a passer but I want to see more of what we saw in the final minutes of last weeks game.  Exciting football…

  • T-Money

    I disagree.  McCoy didn’t give Tebow very many opportunities to throw, and when he did they were simple outs, hooks, and curls.  Plus it didn’t help that offensive live didn’t wake up until to 4th quarter.

    I’m not saying that he doesn’t need to get better as a passer – he does – but the main point of this article is to play to Tebow’s strengths and to do that creatively.  Throwing isn’t one of those so you have to find a way to balance his “proven” abilities, with the ones he struggles with.

    Right now you have Tim Tebow running a Kyle Orton offense.  Not overly complicated, all based on timing, all about being a pocket passer, not very creative.  

    Tebow can be a huge weapon if you implement him correctly, but right now, in this offense, you are just hindering his abilities.

  • Jon

    I agree, throwing in some play action roll outs is a must.

  • flbronc

    to address your question, the answer is b & c. nfl defenses are much better at assignment football than colleges- which is why reverses rarely break off big gains.  the defense stays home, or is fast enough to correct.

    my addition to that is (d) linebackers hit incredibly hard in the open field.   when you get a qb out on the edge running with the ball, the lb is going to do his best to demolish him- whether he pitches it or not.  too much option=too many qb hits.

  • 12508

    How about getting Tebow to throw a spiral pass first. Oh that’s right we need to play to his strengths and that won’t include throwing passes for completions.

  • Jon

    Your (d) is part of my (b).  An option runs the risk of getting the QB hammered (as well as the risk of a bad pitch, etc.).

    In football, there is always the risk of injury, no matter how hard to try to prevent them from happening.  And while Tebow is in no way excluded from the possibility of getting hurt, he’s not quite as fragile as guys like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.

    The Dolphins safety, Yeremiah Bell, said earlier this week that Tebow is basically a HB playing QB.  That being the case, you don’t ever hear of team’s being afraid of running too much and injuring their running back — because he’s not built like a QB and doesn’t play like one.

    Tebow is not built like a QB and he certainly doesn’t play like one. So it’s like not it’s easy to tee off on him. (Just ask Chiefs safety Eric Berry or Washington’s LaRon Landry.)

    I’m not saying Tebow can’t or won’t get hurt if the Broncos let him run wild, but I don’t think that’s a good reason to hold him back. Because, like I said, he’s not your typical quarterback.

  • Jon

    Tebow can throw a spiral, and he can even throw a beautiful deep ball (go watch the preseason film, there’s proof of that). What he needs to work on as a passer is his accuracy and footwork.

    While working on that, I would like to see the Broncos throw in some options and bootlegs and plays that fit Tebow. 

  • flbronc

    i agree that he isn’t built like a traditional qb, and that’s why i don’t mind him running a bit. i just don’t like it being the feature of our offense.

    the guys that are built like tebow- rb’s and hb’s have a shelf life that ends around 30 because of the punishment they take.  the good qb’s play much longer than that. 

  • flbronc

    he needs to work on delivering the ball consistently.  i could care less about his footwork, delivery, etc… 

    you’re right, he has thrown some incredible balls- but last week he almost hit a couple fans.

    the options that you’ll continue to see are those zone read type plays.  he’ll have the option to hand to the back, run himself, or a quick pass to a wr near the line of scrimage (which is effectively a running play too).

  • areferee

    Each of you has legitimate points.  Herc is right!  To develop as a passer, Tebow must be more disciplined in the pocket.  Jon and Money-Man are correct in the excitement and success Tebow has at being creative.  Even “Orange Juice”Bronc is right.

    The answer is doing BOTH, but with formations and frequency that keeps the defense on its heels not knowing what the hell is coming next.  That takes a creativity I’m not sure the current offensive administration possesses without intercession from “upstairs”. 

    (No!  Not THAT far upstairs! Just upstairs at Dove Valley!)

    Bottom line:  “Dance with him that brung ya“!

    (Translation:  Turn Tebow loose and learn as we go!  JUST WIN, BABY!)

  • Jon

    You can make Tebow the feature of the offense without making his running the feature of the offense. 

    T-Money is on the money, Creative Dynamic + Healthy Run/Pass Ratio = Dangerous offense.

  • Jon

    His workwork is what effects his consistency…

  • Brynnmyk

    I agree with your article.  Tebow will learn with time and experience the whole when to throw and when to run thing.  He has strengths that are different than your typical pocket passer.  I don’t care how his passes look, just as long as they get to the receiver.  Good thing is, when he does blow a pass, it’s usually WAY off, so that it isn’t intercepted.  The Broncos need to realize that they have to meld their offense around Tebow if they want to be successful, the way the Florida Gators did it.  If they would just let Tebow be Tebow, they would be a lot better off…..afterall, which did you like better….the first 55 minutes, or the last 5 minutes?  And to borrow that great saying from Al, who would have loved Tebow….JUST WIN, BABY!!!!

  • Ninjaix

    I definetly agree with the creativity but in the form or PA roll outs screens throws in the flat quick outs to a trio of WRs kinda thing the “option” won’t work in the NFL because defenses are too fast and recognizing the play doesn’t take a genius. So in the NFL with speed, awareness and “windows” throwing or running the option doesn’t stand a chance. But the old TD pitch might with a good open field runner like Knowshon. Also giving Timmy some rythm might also help instead on limiting his pass to 9 over the 1st 3 quaters. EFX must remember Tim wasn’t the 4th best QB in practice just the 4 best pocket QB. Give him a game plan that works for his style of play, no huddle, play action some QB draws and let the man do WORK! Go BRONCOS!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Fox shouldn’t even let the kid use his legs at all. 

    We KNOW he can run, we KNOW he can scramble, we KNOW he can roll out, we KNOW what his strengths are.  What we don’t know (and never will know as long as they continue to run Florida’s spread option) is whether or not the kid can deliver an accurate, catchable ball with any kind of consistency.   If he can’t do that, he will not be a successful NFL QB. Period.  You can tell me that Tebow’s ‘magical’ or ‘special’ or a ‘winner’ or a ‘leader’ or ‘gets it’ or whatever useless intangible you want to throw at me, but if you can’t throw the ball, you can’t play QB.  Not in the NFL. 

    Which is why the gameplan last week was so damn maddening.   More spread, more simple passes, more dumbing down everything, etc.  I can’t figure out what the hell Johnboy and Fox are doing. 

  • King

    “Fox shouldn’t even let the kid use his legs at all.”

    One.  Giant.  Facepalm.  

  • Anonymous

    “One. Giant. Facepalm.”

    Mark Twain, everyone. 

  • Darwin

    I like Tim the good guy but Tim the QB leaves something to be desired. He needs to work with a “great” QB coach to get comfortable in the pocket. He might work hard on the bench press but I don’t think he has worked hard on reading defenses.  If 95%+ of NFL talent evaluators think Tebow will never be a franchise QB are we Bronco fans just being delusional in thinking he can?  Also, is he a quick processor?  Does he have the ability of a Brees, Rodgers, or a Brady to make those quick decisions? To last and be successful in the NFL you need to be a quick reactor at Quarterback. Anything less and we are all just fooling ourselves.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with areferee, you guys all have valid points.  I think we need to see if Tebow can actually throw and read defenses but they need to let him loose to give them a chance to win and to extend drives byplaying Tebow ball. 
    I think that the option is a bad idea.  Did you see what happened to Vick the last time he ran the option when he was a Falcon?

  • Strawdog

    Jon, I agree with you. But I have an uneasy feeling my friend. 

    We talk endlessy about Tebow’s skillset…and deservedly so.  But, I’m wondering if our HC and OC and even our QB coach have the skillset…or even intent…to be creative beyond their already set notions.  I’ve come to think that coaches make their careers on defining a style…and then winning with it.  In order to have career longevity, they have to show a body of consistent work…that their offensive or defensive schemes win.  If they allow an impression that they are just riding with a great talent, where is their career when that talent is no longer there?  

    Bottom line…I’m concerned that Fox and McCoy are really eager to shape an offense for Tebow…they may really want Tebow to conform…and if he can’t, to move on and say he doesn’t have what it takes.

    I hope I’m wrong, but people with mortgages and kids and bills tend to do what it takes to sustain their careers.    

  • Strawdog

    My bad…I’m concerned that Fox and McCoy are NOT really eager to shape an offense for Tebow

  • Trtippetts

    Well, I like what your sayin cause what ur really talkin bout is playin to Tebows strengths insted of turning him into something he’s not.

  • Anonymous

    hahaha! I can’t believe you just had to explain that.

  • Hansen

    You forgot “gamer”. 

  • AtomicLeo

    I think last week’s game plan was real simple: build his confidence with simple game against the NFL JV team before opening at home against the Lions. But Miami played very well, kept Tebow boxed in most of the game and forced him to throw to beat them, which he did in the last 5 minutes.

    You can not run a college option in the NFL. The defenses are smarter, faster and there are a lot more games in a season than in college. Tebow is going to get hit more in the next 10 weeks than he did in his entire career at Florida. I think we’ll see more of the same in the next few weeks, stack the box and force Tebow to throw. If they stack the box forget about bootlegs. That’s what happened to Plummer after the AFC championship beat down. Teams copied the Steelers, show blitz and contain the QB and force him to throw. Plummer fell apart, let’s hope Tebow does not.

  • flbronc

    i know footwork effects throwing. so does release point and wind up.  i’m not an idiot. 

    unconventional throwing motions can be tweaked to work.  ask our buddy phyllis.  he throws with poor footwork and mechanics, and wins more games than denver.  he has certainly improved since arriving in the nfl, but in college his mechanics were awful.

  • Guest

    Good call. The reality is, we are a developing team and in today’s NFL, creativity can go a long way towards ensuring a victory. My greatest concern is that we will continue to utilize this draconian offense, and that we are then forced to consistently try and fight our way back into the game. As fans, we were told to expect a physical run game, an attacking defense and timely turnovers. Thus far the Broncos brass has delivered. The problem is, that game plan has netted more deficits than leads, as the NFL is changing. Even if the Broncos can rush for 120-140 yards  game, and posses the ball for long clips, more teams are moving to an up-tempo, spread style attack that negates turnovers, sacks and time of possession. I do not believe a college style spread is the answers for the Broncos, but a more creative offense, that incorporates more movement principles and deceptive formations is needs. One need only look at what has occurred in SF under Harbough to realize that not every team needs to replicate the GB or NE attacks in order to deploy a creative and deceptive offensive scheme. The Bronocs brass must embrace the fact that this is 2011 NFL football.

  • Blow

    the option never works in the pro’s because defensive speed kills the option.

  • Anonymous

    The game plan may have been boring but Fox & McCoy need to balance out doing what Tebow needs to do to develop and trying to win.

  • Anonymous

    Was the offensive line not sucking until Tebow took over?  All passing is timing and accuracy, putting the ball in the right place at the right time.  That is not even remotely limited to being a pocket passer.

  • Anonymous

    You have to be able to pass first to get that creative dynamic.

  • Anonymous

    You forgot timing.

  • T-Money

    No, the offensive line has not played that bad all season. And of course passing is all about accuracy and timing.  You’re missing the entire point of my post, but if you really want to get into then fine. 

    If Orton is in, you want plays that are 3-5 step drops where he steps up into the pocket and throws that ball to a spot before the receiver even knows it coming.  Timing (rarely accurate) is key then.

    If Tebow is in, you want plays that make him (and the defense) using his legs.  Play action bootlegs, throwing on the run, getting out of the hashes. There is no question that Tebow is not a pocket passer so why do you want him in a freaking pocket, passing the ball on the run.  

    I’m not an idiot.  I know timing and accuracy are important and I’m not parsing Tebow for either of them.  Nor do I think that they are not necessary.  All I’m eluding to is being more creative than making him stand in the pocket.

  • Anonymous

    So McGahee had 76 yards rushing while the O-line was asleep then they magically woke up in the last 5 minutes.  If Tebow can’t stand in the pocket then he won’t be much good as an NFL QB.  The majority of sacks were on Tebow not the O-line.  He takes too long to get rid of the ball because he has not adjusted to passing in the NFL.

  • T-Money

    Do i really have to spell it out to you? Did we watch the same game?  Um hello, we didn’t score any points until the last 5 minutes of the game!  and you’re really going to put all of that on Tebow!? Think whatever you want about the o line – they played like shit, especially Orlando Franklin.  Jason Taylor ate him alive.  Watch some of the “highlights” and you’ll see that just about every snap somebody was getting through.

    This entire article – more directly, my post – is all about GETTING TEBOW OUT OF THE POCKET. period. I don’t care about how he does in the pocket because it’s not relevant to anything I had to say.

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