We're all still trying to figure out how the New York Jets will execute the first successful two-quarterback rotation in NFL history with Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, but one thing's for sure -- when you acquire Tebow, as the Jets recently did, you've got yourself one impressive red zone weapon.
Little-known factoid: At Florida, Tebow racked up as many collegiate rushing touchdowns as Marshall Faulk did at San Diego State, and that number (57) is good for eighth in college football history. In his first NFL season, Tebow scored six rushing touchdowns for the Denver Broncos in just 43 attempts. 2011 saw his first real time as a serious NFL starting quarterback, but Tebow still excelled in the red zone, scoring six more rushing TDs on 122 attempts.
Jason Lisk of The Big Lead hypothesizes that with Tebow, the Jets should almost always go for a two-point conversion instead of an extra point, and it's a very solid case.
Last year, New York scored 30 touchdowns in the first three quarters of games. Well, if Tebow only converts at the same rate from the 3 yard line or in as he has for his career (9 for 16), then it's almost 4 points over a season. Coaches obsess over little things, so a strategy that could result in four more points is not inconsequential. It's not going to win a Super Bowl alone, but it optimizes points. [...]
[...] I don't know what Tebow would average, but my guess is that while he wouldn't be perfect as teams adapted, the chances of him exceeding 60% are better than being significantly below 50% and making the strategy sub-optimal. To this point, he has not been utilized all out. [Denver Broncos head coach John] Fox got praised a fair amount last year, but was honestly very conservative in using Tebow in the one area his skills dictated it, short yardage. Denver was a punting machine on 4th and 1 or 2. They only went for two points when they absolutely had to.
When the Broncos beat the Miami Dolphins last year in an overtime game, I went through the Dolphins' defensive braincramps caused by Tebow's dual ability as a passer and rusher inside the opposing 10-yard line.
On the touchdown, it seems that the Dolphins ran a coverage that had the defensive backs running with the receivers by assignment instead of handing off into zones. Because of that, the crossing route run by Eddie Royal (19) took cornerback Jimmy Wilson (27) out of any possibility to take flat responsibility. In layman's terms, Wilson vacating the defensive left side (whether on purpose or by accident) allowed Fells to be as wide open as he's ever been in his entire life. Add in the blitz by linebacker Karlos Dansby (58), and there was nobody on the defensive left side. If you're going to blitz, how about a zone blitz that puts Dansby on assignment with the tight end?
On the two-point conversion, it looks like the Broncos sandbagged the Dolphins after the Dolphins called a timeout — there was a lot of talk on the Denver sidelines about what to do on the play for what was eventually a quarterback keeper. In my opinion, Miami let Denver dictate the action by falling prey to the idea that Tebow would throw in that position, despite the fact that he'd been throwing horribly most of the day. Miami's defense went wide, and when cornerback Will Allen (25) blitzed and overpursued, that left no run fit and a huge gap for Tebow to walk right into the end zone.
The real problem Tebow represents as a red zone weapon is that when all eyes are on him, it also opens up other options for his teammates, and the Dolphins game was a great example of that. With their power blocking and run-first set of schemes, the Jets could very well take Tebow back to his days as an unstoppable conversion machine -- and if they want to get the maximum value out of the deal, that's a must-do strategy.
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