There’s a reason Tim Tebow started the season number three on the depth chart, he is limited as a NFL QB. Playing in the spread offense from the shotgun did not prepare him for taking snaps under center. In the college game, a QB like Tebow can dominate with his physical presence, as an extra running back with the ability to throw on the run to improvised pass routes. He’s a Rambo sized Michael Vick without the quick-flick throwing motion. Because of this Tebow can be beat and here’s how.
Forget the hype. Tebow is not a conventional QB and trying to make him into one, is foolish. John Fox is anything but foolish. Tebow does not have the footwork to make timing throws from the pocket. He does not have the quick release needed to beat DBs to a spot on the field. Because of this, it is necessary to design an offensive scheme to take advantage of his strengths. His ability to run with power and throw while moving makes him into something the Dolphins are very familiar with, a wildcat QB.
Undoubtedly, Denver has been watching film of the Dolphins from 2008. They will be using Miami’s own scheme against them and if the Dolphins are unprepared, they will have not done their homework. Miami was more than likely prepared to draft Tebow in the second round before Denver jumped in front of them. The Dolphins must remember why. Tebow is a perfect fit for a wildcat type offense and Denver will be using many of those concepts.
The wildcat is a shotgun attack with a back coming in motion across the formation from a wide receiver position (the wildcat). The tackle on the side of the wildcat moves to the opposite side creating an unbalanced line with two tackles on the strong side. It is a pure power run formation and the back is already at full speed as he crosses in front of the QB. The problem for Miami was Ronnie Brown’s inability to throw the football with consistency or accuracy.
Denver will not use the wildcat’s unbalanced line concept, but the QB being a primary runner from the shotgun is Miami’s main concern. Tebow is not a drop back passer who can throw from the pocket and Denver will not be using the timing patterns so prevalent in the NFL. Denver will use choice routes allowing the receivers to improvise based on the coverage and movement from the QB. For this reason, Miami must play most of the game in zone defense.
Man coverage requires the DB to follow his man with his back to the QB. This would allow Tebow to take off before the DBs can react and will open large gaps in the defense. Zone coverage requires DBs to face the offense and cover areas of the field while maintaining eye contact with the QB. Timing patterns beat zone coverage because DBs react to the ball and not the man, creating separation. When a QB has a long throwing motion, the extra tenth of a second it takes to release the ball is enough time for the DBs to make up for the separation. By facing the offense, DBs can also react to the run much faster and can contain Tebow when he turns into a running back.
Miami must make Tebow think about where pressure will be coming from. Tebow does not have the NFL experience to make pre-snap reads and confusion at the snap will put him in immediate run mode. Miami must take a page from the amoeba defense and not come set until the last second before the snap. Miami should blitz on nearly every down but those blitzes must come from different angles with different players. These should not be all out blitzes, they should be a single player from different locations across the front.
The front seven must play with controlled aggression. Tebow is a full back disguised as a QB, sacking him will not be easy and missing an attempted sack leaves running lanes for him to exploit. Allow the single blitzer to apply pressure while the rest of the front maintains gap responsibility. Take away the running lanes, force Tebow to throw the ball and make plays using his arm. Unlike other QBs, Tebow is not afraid to mix it up between the tackles, Miami must hit him hard every time he ventures inside and must be acutely aware of the QB draw in the redzone.
Tebow is a half the field thrower. He moves out of the pocket to one side and uses only the receivers on that side. Where he becomes dangerous is when he reverses direction and comes to the backside. In this situation, it is pure improvisation by the entire offense. When things break down, Tebow is at his best and for this reason, backside containment is critical. The Dolphins must set and maintain the backside edge. Do not chase Tebow around from behind and leave the backside empty, this is Tebow’s bread and butter, either to run or throw.
The keys for Miami…
Play zone coverage.
Take away the pre-snap read.
Maintain gap responsibility.
Be constantly aware of the QB draw.
Set and maintain the backside edge.
These keys will force Tebow to win using his arm and send Touchdown Jesus home a loser on Gator day in Miami.