It seems like way back when that Kordell Stewart was being introduced into Pittsburgh Steelers game plans as the college quarterback who would come on to the field and either run or pass the ball. His presence created match up differences for opposing teams and he earned the nickname “Slash”. The introduction of a college quarterback who could run or pass the ball had finally happened and ever since Stewart made his appearance, some offensive coordinators have been trying to figure out how to mold a running quarterback into a pocket passer because according to the pundits, “you can’t quarterback in the NFL unless you can throw from the pocket”.
Ever since Slash, the NFL has flirted with the idea. Michael Vick and Vince Young were both supposed to be the guys who would put pressure on defenses either running or passing, but neither has been able to totally live up to that expectation. Vick has been either hurt or inconsistent, not to mention his stint in jail, and Young looked very promising his first year but after that succumbed to the pressure and fell apart.
Enter Tim Tebow.
When Josh McDaniels took Tebow in the first round of the NFL draft in April of 2010, many in the press were incredulous with the pick. Tebow ran some end zone packages his rookie year and after McDaniels was let go for a monumental collapse that season, the Broncos brought in Brady Quinn and Quinn and Tebow would compete against Kyle Orton for the starting slot in training camp.
Well, the Player’s Strike hit, no offenses were implemented across the NFL, and when Tebow et al, began training camp, the veterans had a distinct advantage over Tebow who was and is an option quarterback. The struggles were front page news everyday-Tebow is inaccurate, not making quick enough decisions and of course Merrill Hoge was blasting him everyday for not having the skill set needed to play quarterback in the NFL.
Fast Forward to Week Five and Kyle Orton is 1-4 and the fans are screaming for Tebow. Finally, Head Coach John Fox relents and Tebow starts against after the bye week. He couldn’t have been more pedestrian the first three and 7/8 quarters, but in the final two minutes, Tebow pulled off the unthinkable and the Broncos came back and won.
The run had started and the run would lead through the Jets, Raiders, Chiefs, San Diego, Minnesota, Chicago, got derailed in the second half against the Patriots and then Denver snuck into the playoffs, and in one of the most unbelievable games, Tebow hits Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime to stun the Steelers.
During this time, Tony Sparano was fired as Head Coach of Miami and replaced Brian Schottenheimer of the Jets. In the irony of all ironies, Sparano and Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan, traded for Tebow last week (I could hear Elway exhale across the country) and for the last four days the Sports News world has been upside down about Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez.
I think it will work and if I were Tony Sparano (and I’m not), Tim Tebow would be the new “Slash”. Sparano was the coach who introduced the Wildcat with Miami with Ronnie Brown (a college running back), and with this formation took the Dolphins to the playoffs. Soon after, many teams began to copy, but no one ever had the True Wildcat player who was a true double threat.
Now the Jets do. Tebow last year, with a very young and inexperienced crew around him (Thomas, and Eric Decker) stunned everyone with their ability to make big plays, but Tebow was still not traditional by any means. However, when the Broncos were effective power running the ball with Tebow and Willis McGahee, Tebow’s play action passing improved throughout the year and culminated with the Steelers getting so fixated on the Broncos’ tendencies that it cost them a playoff game and possibly a chance at the Super Bowl.
Offense has changed, the Patriots frequently used Tight Ends in the backfield sets to out match opposing linebackers in the passing game and for blocking, but none of them could pass or had the running instincts to get into the end zone. Tebow does and the Jets should use him for more than the Wildcat. His presence on the field alone causes concerns with defenses and if he were called on to run Slip Screens, Student Body right and lefts, along with the Wildcat packages, then defenses wouldn’t know how to defend him on the field. That favors Mark Sanchez who guided the Jets to the AFC Championship game two years in row with a power running game, and now he gets to run play action sets with both Shonn Greene and Tebow in the backfield.
I like the idea. If Tebow is lined up in B or C gap, the Defensive End has to honor him there, if he doesn’t the numbers can flip quick and Tebow can go for a large gain, not too mention he is more agile than any fullback in the NFL.
I know a lot of people are going to make a fuss over his being in New York and his Christianity coming to modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah, but the only relationship that matters is the one between Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Tony Sparano.
If Sparano handles it right, he has an ingredient that the Jets have been missing that may very well win both Sanchez and Tebow (and Ryan) a Super Bowl.