Inside the playbook: expanding Tebow's role

Today: Tebow and the swap boot

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On Sunday, Broncos’ QB Tim Tebow saw his first extensive action of the season. Align the QB in the shotgun and run a package that is pretty similar to what we saw from the rookie when he was playing under Urban Meyer at the University of Florida.

The next step? Josh McDaniels has to create a passing option for Tebow. NFL defenses will find a way to shut this package down within a week—unless the Broncos evolve their play calling with Tebow on the field. Today, I will draw up a basic route concept that the Broncos can install and start to move forward with an expanded playbook designed for Tebow.

Before we get to that, let’s go back and watch the replay of Tebow’s first NFL TD. This is nothing more than a basic run concept: the Power O. Pull the backside guard and lead with the fullback. The same concept we see from the Dolphins with Ronnie Brown in Miami’s version of the wildcat. Against the Jets, Tebow just bounced it outside for the score.

Let’s check it out on the TV tape…

As we can see, a formation that looks great on the chalkboard. The type of package that forces opposing defenses to waste extra practice and meeting time in their preparation. Tebow becomes that “wild card” or gadget player in the scouting reports. But, we aren’t seeing anything here that is exotic in terms of the actual scheme.Time to add a run/ pass option for the QB. Use his athletic skills to get him out of the pocket and give him safe, predictable reads in the passing game.

Here is what I would do in Denver...

Bring Tank personnel (1 WR, 2 TE, 2 RB) onto the field in a red zone situation. Give them that wildcat look—complete with the pre-snap motion from the running back. But, when it actually unfolds, the Broncos are running nothing more than the Swap Boot—a classic backfield action that we see all across the NFL. To illustrate this, I put the defense in their base 4-3 front playing Red 2 (Cover 2 in the red zone).

Let’s take a look at the chalkboard and break it down…


Coaching points

The Route: Tebow is essentially looking at is a Flat-7 (or flag) combo. That’s it. The open, or weak side, TE (U) releases vertically up the field and runs the 7 route at the free safety. The FB comes back underneath the line of scrimmage and becomes the Flat read for Tebow. The Z receiver (flanker) aligns to the closed, or strong side, of the formation as a wing and releases across the field. The same concept we will see in the NFL out of Pro (2 WR, 1 TE, 2 RB) and Ace (2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB) personnel—only here it has some added window dressing.

Tim TebowICONDenver's Tim Tebow.

Tebow’s reads: High to low. Look to the 7 and come down to the Flat. Those are Tebow’s primary reads. His third option is the Z on the inside crosser. Have to read the drop of the open side CB. If he sinks, try to hit the Flat route. If he stays short, look to the 7 and then back to the No.3 (Z).

The run option: The added bonus with Tebow. This is built into the scheme. Get Tebow out of the pocket on Sprint-boot action and let him see the field. Read high to low as we just discussed, but don’t forget that holding onto the ball is the safest play. Put that shoulder down and take on the CB at the goal line.

Play action: The field shrinks in the red zone. Defenders don’t take big drops and throwing lanes are restricted. That is why I like the wildcat action with the RB. Force the linebackers and the FS to step towards the line of scrimmage. Try to open up throwing lanes—the idea behind play action. And let’s not forget about the open side defensive end. The Broncos want to see him crash hard—allowing Tebow to go though his reads without pressure up the field.

The basic theory: Make Tebow a duel-threat. That is why you use play action and dress up basic personnel packages. We have to remember that no matter how creative we think certain coaches are from a play calling perspective, there is only so much you can do with 11 players on the field. The TD run we saw against Rex Ryan’s Jets and the play I just diagramed aren’t very complex. But, they are ideal for a player with the athletic ability of Tim Tebow.

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