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“You have to stand in the pocket and throw the football at some point.”
March 26, 2012 4:56 AM   Subscribe

The New York Times isn't known for trenchant sports analysis, but in this article, Mike Tanier throws down stats to back up the problem behind the Jet's Tebow acquisition: Tim Tebow, though a "gifted athlete," lacks passing mechanics.
posted by Gordion Knott (78 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
The New York Times isn't known for trenchant sports analysis
This is not true. While it's certainly not the thing it's most famous for, the NYT has a very strong and well respected staff of sportswriters.

posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:04 AM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


The Jets didn't sign Tebow because of his passing mechanics. They signed him because he's a winner.

Also, this article is okay but there are a lot really great articles/opinions/evaluations of Tebow out there. From the Classical: Why the NFL needs Tebow and Manning. From awhile ago, Klosterman on why people hate Tebow. Charles Pierce discusses why it's okay to criticize Tebow because of his religion. And I'm sure there are more.

Anyway, good luck, Jets fans! Now you have to root for Tebow!! #NelsonLaugh
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:05 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


They signed him because he's a winner sells merchandise.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:15 AM on March 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


Allegedly, after the initial trade hit a snag in Tebow's contract buyout language, the Jacksonville Jaguars swooped in to match the Jets' offer and Tebow was given the choice between the two. He chose New York, capital of the liberal media, city of sin, etc. He probably thinks of this as another mission trip to convert the heathen sinners.

Although at least if he doesn't take over the starting QB job, he can pull double duty on the medical staff.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:18 AM on March 26, 2012


They signed him because he's a winner.

He is? I mean, yes, Denver went to the playoffs, but only because they were playing in the AFC West, the worst division in the league. Despite that, they managed to only win half their games, which allowed them to tie two other teams for that lead, sneaking in on tiebreakers -- SD and Oakland were also 8-8, while KC missed a chance to make the whole division 8-8.

In the playoffs, well, they played one good game against Pittsburgh, and one humiliatingly bad game against NE.

Thought, there is something -- he's leaving an 8-8 team for an 8-8 team.

The biggest problem with Tebow is that there is absolutely no surprises where or when he's going to throw the football. I swear, it's like watching a wind-up doll clicking through a motion. The only slower release in football was Payton Manning being released by the Colts.

Tebow does have a great running mind, and the legs and body to back them up. He can throw the occasional pass, but he need surprise to do it without becoming one with the turf.

Thus, Tebow is *not* an NFL grade QB. What Tebow should be is a running back, ideally in an offense that can run the Wildcat, where he'd be perfect as the RB-slash-occasional-QB that the Wildcat style offense demands.

Now, I'm going to read the article and see if they agree with me...
posted by eriko at 5:21 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Mike Tanier is one of the best football writers out there. He writes for Football Outsiders, which was one of the first sites to try to apply baseball style advanced statistics to the gridiron. He also is a regular contributor to NFL Films features like Top 10 etc. His grasp of the history of the game is pretty excellent.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:22 AM on March 26, 2012


He chose New York, capital of the liberal media, city of sin, etc. He probably thinks of this as another mission trip to convert the heathen sinners.

Actually, he chose New York because the coaching staff seemed to want him there to play football, while it was clear that the Jaguars' owner was interested in Tebow for fiscal reasons. The coaches at Jacksonville did not want Tebow.

Sorry if that wasn't condescendingly snarky enough. Let me try again: LOL Tebow Jesus grar I hates him!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:26 AM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


He chose New York, capital of the liberal media, city of sin, etc. He probably thinks of this as another mission trip to convert the heathen sinners.

If this happened a month earlier, I'd be convinced it was because the NFL just wouldn't sit idly while Lin had New York and the NBA locking down the sports headlines, even in February. How dare they?

And I was convinced Tebow wouldn't find a new team until MLB's opening day. "We're the goddamn NFL."
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 5:26 AM on March 26, 2012


They signed him because he's a winner sells merchandise by inserting him in the Wildcat, he allows the Jets to effectively bench Mark Sanchez in the middle of a game without officially benching him.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:27 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


By the way, I posted the Clayton tweet about Tebow being a winner because, well, it's hilarious, and not because I in any way endorse the idea that a professional football player should be evaluated for his ability to "win" instead of his ability to successfully perform the role given to him by a coaching staff.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:30 AM on March 26, 2012


nathancaswell: "They signed him because [...] by inserting him in the Wildcat, he allows the Jets to effectively bench Mark Sanchez in the middle of a game without officially benching him."

Yes. Sparano and Tebow is a match made in heaven. I'm a Patriots fan, and I am not looking forward to the shenanigans that will occur in those games. He adds an additional layer to a Wildcat-happy offense: line him up as RB behind Sanchez and you have no idea what's going to happen.
posted by Plutor at 5:35 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sparano and Tebow is a match made in heaven. I'm a Patriots fan, and I am not looking forward to the shenanigans that will occur in those games. He adds an additional layer to a Wildcat-happy offense: line him up as RB behind Sanchez and you have no idea what's going to happen.

I think you can relax. You're outlining the best case scenario for the Jets. Like, the absolute best. What is more likely to happen is Sparano draws up some shenanigan plays, the Jets gets some nice chunk yardage from them, Sanchez throws a couple of bad passes, people start clamoring for Tebow to play more, Sanchez's confidence takes an even further hit, and a full-blown QB controversy erupts in the locker room and the city. If I were a Pats fan, I'd be pretty happy about this. I think it pretty much confirms that the inmates are running the asylum in New York. No direction, no clue.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:42 AM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I'm a Patriots fan too and a two headed Tebow/Sanchez monster doesn't really frighten me.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:46 AM on March 26, 2012


Allegedly, after the initial trade hit a snag in Tebow's contract buyout language, the Jacksonville Jaguars swooped in to match the Jets' offer and Tebow was given the choice between the two. He chose New York, capital of the liberal media, city of sin, etc. He probably thinks of this as another mission trip to convert the heathen sinners.

Tebow is probably the only athlete in the world who might find New York a more relaxed and less pressure-filled environment than Jacksonville, but my general read on the situation is that Jets fans are mostly meh about him, whereas in Jacksonville he would be TIM TEBOW SUPERSTAR. Between that and the Jets being willing to give him more playing time than the Jaguars, I can see how he would make that decision just on football-related grounds.
posted by Copronymus at 5:46 AM on March 26, 2012


Sorry if that wasn't condescendingly snarky enough. Let me try again: LOL Tebow Jesus grar I hates him!

Actually, Jesus probably doesn't give a damn about football. Tebow gets made fun of because he doesn't understand why Jesus wouldn't care about football, and he does look like a fool praying in the middle of a bunch of millionaires as if there were something important being decided on the field that day.

In any case, as long as Fallon gets to make Tebowie videos, I'm all for more Tebow. His belief system is shallow enough to make him harmless.
posted by deanklear at 5:50 AM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


He chose New York, capital of the liberal media, city of sin, etc. He probably thinks of this as another mission trip to convert the heathen sinners.

Actually, no. Tebow probably picked the Jets because he saw it as the best place where he could win a starting quarterback job. He doesn't like being #2. And the religious work he actually does, is not the "converting the masses" schtick, rather, its that whole meeting with ill children thing. He can find that anywhere.
posted by Stynxno at 5:51 AM on March 26, 2012


There's an NFL Films video out there (cannot locate it now for some reason) of Tebow getting hit every time he runs the ball. It's vicious. The guy may be somewhat successful as a scrambling QB, but his body is not going to be able to take the punishment NFL defenses dish out on a QB out in the open, particularly when they know it's coming.
posted by kuanes at 5:56 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, another reason the Jets signed him is the sneaky truth is their "ground and pound" offense is not effective anymore. Their O-line and run game in general is slipping. Mobile QBs really open things up in the running game as they generally force a linebacker to spy the QB and cause the defense to worry more about things like contain and gap discipline and generally play a bit slower. You saw it in Philly with Vick's effect on McCoy and you saw it last year with Tebow and McGahee in Denver. I think Tebow will get a lot of 3rd and short and goal line looks to help the Jets fading run game pick up short yards.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:05 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I also think we'll see a lot of the option, which is great because it is football as God intended.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:08 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The guy may be somewhat successful as a scrambling QB, but his body is not going to be able to take the punishment NFL defenses dish out on a QB out in the open, particularly when they know it's coming.

The problem is he's typically scrambling to try to make a pass play, rather than just bailing out and running, and taking the hit on his terms.

He does seem, though, to have almost a Ben Roethlisberger-like ability to absorb punishment and keep playing. He's a very big guy for a QB -- 6'3" 245lbs, compare to, say, Aaron Rodgers at 6'2"/225lbs or Drew Brees at 6'0"/207lbs. Even Peyton Manning, notably tall for the position at 6'5", only weighs 230lbs. He's no Dante Cullpepper, but he's a big guy for the position.
posted by eriko at 6:10 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the playoffs, well, they played one good game against Pittsburgh, and one humiliatingly bad game against NE.

Tebow didn't lose that game - the defense crumbled because Belichick had them figured out, top to bottom, which is a bad place to be when facing a QB like Brady. That's generally a coaching issue - a well coached team that understands their own weaknesses and how to compensate for them is what did the Pats in at the Superbowl, and almost did them in when they played Baltimore. There is nothing Tebow could have done to save that game. There is nothing that Drew Brees or Cam Newton or a time-traveling 28-y.o. Brett Farve could have done to win that game.

Thought, there is something -- he's leaving an 8-8 team for an 8-8 team.


Tebow was riding pine for a big chunk of the season. Look, after the disaster in Indianapolis, it should be abundantly obvious that a great QB can hold together a deeply flawed team, and win with them. Tebow does not have the passing mechanics to be a big-scoring QB like Brees or Brady, but he's good enough to keep his team in the running, and he's the one you want if you need to capitalize on opportunities to win... he's a good fit for defense-heavy monsters like the Broncos and Jets.

Ryan needs to jettison Sanchez. He can win games, but he can't turn around games, and he loses focus in situations where Tebow would step up his game. Clutch play isn't well understood, but it's real, and Tebow is a clutch-play specialist, he turns around games, and has a proven track record doing it.

Leadership, situational awareness, keeping cool and alert under pressure, consistently making good decisions in the crunch and a serious set of legs makes up for his inability to thread the needle at 50 yards.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:31 AM on March 26, 2012


All these people are entirely missing the point. Tebow will be a RUNNING BACK who might throw occasionally. He will be in the backfield, playing at the same time as Sanchez. He will absolutely NOT be a quarterback, because he is not a quarterback. He's a running back.

At least that BETTER be what they do with him, otherwise this is the straw that broke this Jet fan's back.
posted by spicynuts at 6:32 AM on March 26, 2012


Tebow will be a RUNNING BACK who might throw occasionally. He will be in the backfield, playing at the same time as Sanchez. He will absolutely NOT be a quarterback, because he is not a quarterback. He's a running back. At least that BETTER be what they do with him, otherwise this is the straw that broke this Jet fan's back.

Oh, bless your heart.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:34 AM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


yes, well, that's what i'm desperately telling myself. DESPERATELY. otherwise there is no hope.
posted by spicynuts at 6:44 AM on March 26, 2012


Clutch play isn't well understood

So I see.
posted by escabeche at 6:46 AM on March 26, 2012


The New York Times isn't known for trenchant sports analysis

And how.
THE Prophet Jonah was sent to Nineveh. St. Paul was sent to Athens, Macedonia, Rome. And now Tim Tebow has been sent to New York City. ...
posted by maudlin at 6:46 AM on March 26, 2012


As a Jet fan, I know that Tebow will make the coming season interesting.

If he sucks, I will love to hate him.
If he is good, I will hate loving him.

But either way, it will make an emotional season.
I think he could be a good back-up / special play type guy. I hope.
posted by Flood at 6:49 AM on March 26, 2012


I am happy I am not a Jets fan today.

Someone alluded to it upthread but there is a very real tactical advantage with the quarterback running because it gives you one additional blocker. The mechanics thing may be a red herring. Joe Kapp had bad mechanics. Billy Kilmer had terrible mechanics. Bad mechanics do not preclude success. The other thing is his left-handedness. My own opinion is many of these people who say his mechanics are odd are looking at the inherent oddness of a left-handed passer. Left-handed passers have historically been at a handicap; if nothing else they will write the ball spinning the other way is confusing to the receivers. I would be interested to hear Boomer Esiason's honest opinion on these so-called "terrible" mechanics.
posted by bukvich at 6:57 AM on March 26, 2012


Tebow probably will never be amazing, but given a few off seasons where he actually gets to talk to coaches (unlike last year), some of the more idiosyncratic elements of his throwing technique can get ironed out. I certainly wouldn't object to him being a back up for my team, as long as he stayed a back up for the foreseeable future.
posted by nangua at 6:57 AM on March 26, 2012


Tebow probably will never be amazing, but given a few off seasons where he actually gets to talk to coaches (unlike last year), some of the more idiosyncratic elements of his throwing technique can get ironed out.

I don't understand this argument. Why does Tebow have a magic ability to will himself to another level of talent or success, while the other hundred or so marginally talented NFL quarterbacks do not? Are the other second and third and fourth string QBs in the league simply too lazy to improve?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:02 AM on March 26, 2012


My own opinion is many of these people who say his mechanics are odd are looking at the inherent oddness of a left-handed passer. Left-handed passers have historically been at a handicap; if nothing else they will write the ball spinning the other way is confusing to the receivers.

I don't remember anyone complaining about Mike Vick's mechanics, or Steve Young's or Matt Leinart's... yeah some receivers complain about the rotation of the ball and you ideally have your best pass blocker at right tackle to protect a left-handed QB's blind side... and all of the plays in your playbook gets flipped, but I don't think people criticizing Tebow's mechanics cause he's left handed. People are criticizing them cause his windup is longer than Satchel Paige's and he drops the ball below his waist like he's contemplating storing it in his hip pocket. All that gives DB's an extra half second to break on the ball. Someone upthread mentioned how Tebow's relatively strong arm is nullified because of his long delivery and they're 100% right. Byron Leftwich had an absolute cannon but his delivery took forever and he could never overcome it (also he sprained his ankle every 15 plays). He's the only player I've ever seen who had a delivery as long as Tebow's.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:13 AM on March 26, 2012


Although I will say Sonny Jurgensen had a fucked up release point and he could air the shit out of the ball. Kind of like Rivers does.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:15 AM on March 26, 2012


Oh and not to mention that the crazy long windup means edge rushers have a great shot at stripping the ball even if they get blocked wide.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:16 AM on March 26, 2012


Tebow didn't lose that game - the defense crumbled because Belichick had them figured out, top to bottom, which is a bad place to be when facing a QB like Brady. That's generally a coaching issue - a well coached team that understands their own weaknesses and how to compensate for them is what did the Pats in at the Superbowl, and almost did them in when they played Baltimore. There is nothing Tebow could have done to save that game. There is nothing that Drew Brees or Cam Newton or a time-traveling 28-y.o. Brett Farve could have done to win that game.

Sure there was. He could have played a completely middling game as quarterback, sustaining drives long enough to keep Brady off the field and let his defense catch their breath. Instead, he played an embarrassingly bad game, because he was throwing at a defense who sat back in soft zone and dared him to throw the ball, rather than a defense looking to take away the option runs.

A quick detour through what happened in the Wild-Card game: Pittsburgh came into the Denver game with one of the single worst defensive game plans I have ever seen. Dick LeBeau may have been a visionary who pioneered the zone blitz, and may be a first-ballot HOFer, but the man completely forgot how to make mid-game adjustments, and it lost them that playoff game. Pittsburgh spent the entire day in Cover-0 or Cover-1, playing to eliminate the running game while openly daring Tebow to throw against them. Tebow, to his credit, played a competent game, and put up 300 yards passing. Don't let the stat line fool you, though--it was a 300-yard passing day with fully half those yards coming after the catch. So, against the kind of coverage that every NFL quarterback can only imagine in his wildest dreams, Tebow threw for just over 160 yards, and saw his receivers pad his stats by evading tackles from an uncharacteristically bad day from Pittsburgh's corners, who had no help over the top because LeBeau kept creeping their safeties to the line on every down. By the beginning of the second half, it was apparent to everyone watching that their Cover-0 look was a complete failure, but Polamalu kept creeping up to the line, Pittsburgh's corners stayed in press coverage, and Tebow kept hitting his receivers on deep patterns in single coverage.

A week later, Denver faced a coach who is known by making in-game adjustments. And Belicheck never had to adjust a thing. The Pats defense (which, let me remind you, was historically bad--it would have allowed the most passing yards in league history if it weren't for Green Bay stinking up the joint even worse) kept two safeties deep, played soft zone coverage, and pulled out to an early 2-score lead. The game was over in the first quarter. They dared Tebow to act like a professional quarterback, and he proved that he couldn't. Forget 28-year-old-time-travelling-Brett-Favre; 23-year-old Akili Smith or Ryan Leaf would have had a better shot against that defense, because while their decision-making was crap, they at least had the football chops to make throws into a Cover-2.

So, to your original point: yes, the Patriots put together a better game plan. But it wasn't a moment of supreme Belicheck genius. It was a competent game plan, put together by a very good coach who knew what he was up against: an appallingly bad technician who is able to keep plays and drives alive with his feet. If Tebow couldn't step it up against one of the two worst passing defenses in league history, with a conference championship on the line, I have a hard time he's going to be able to do it against a real defense, which he is now likely to encounter if he suits up in the AFC East.
posted by Mayor West at 7:17 AM on March 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


> Byron Leftwich had an absolute cannon but his delivery took forever and he could never overcome it (also he sprained his ankle every 15 plays). He's the only player I've ever seen who had a delivery as long as Tebow's.

Leftwich also is left-handed. Vick and Young and Leinart all were relentlessly criticized, albeit not explicitly for poor mechanics. There is something about lefthanders that makes flaws stand out. Even if they were virtually perfect they still don't look like Unitas or Namath or Marino or Rodgers.

Roger Staubach had a big windup and I never heard a word about it. Obviously if you are drafting a quick release is at the top of your wish list but there have been numerous successful NFL quarterbacks who did not have an especially quick release. I don't think I ever saw one remark about Joe Montana's amazing quick release.
posted by bukvich at 7:30 AM on March 26, 2012


my general read on the situation is that Jets fans are mostly meh about him

Judging by comments on my FB feed, most of the Jets fans I know are seriously pissed off about him.
posted by ob at 7:31 AM on March 26, 2012


I love Tebow's just because he makes pundits look like idiots. "He'll never start at quarterback... Oh, well, Denver doesn't count. He'll never win... Oh, well, the AFC West doesn't count. He'll never win in the playoffs... Oh, well, the Steelers without Ryan Clark don't count. He'll never stand up to the rigors of a prolonged career. He needs to be replaced by a guy who's a decade older and has had at least four or five neck surgeries in the last year."
posted by Etrigan at 7:42 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was wondering when Skip Bayless would show up.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:45 AM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

(Insert your own Rex Ryan's Wife joke here.)
posted by delfin at 7:52 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else relearn the word "trenchant" in the SAT article from yesterday? I mean, beacuse I already knew that word and definitely hadn't forgotten it since SAT prep 15 years ago, but I figured some people might have forgotten it and may have seen it popping up EVERYWHERE in the last 24 hours.
posted by robstercraw at 8:07 AM on March 26, 2012


As a Jet fan, the Tebow trade completely mystifies me. They just signed Sanchez to a new three year deal after a season in which his leadership and abilities on the field was questioned by his own teammates. I could understand the trade ias an attempt to have a back up plan in case Sanchez gets benched f they hadn't just made such a significant financial commitment to Sanchez (even though I don't think Tebow solves the Jets QB problem, either). Two middling quarterbacks do not make one good quarterback. And if they do wind up benching Sanchez, that's a lot of money to be paying a guy who doesn't play.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:15 AM on March 26, 2012


Mayor West, I wouldn't be heaping quite so much blame on LeBeau and the Pittsburgh coaching staff. Coming into that game Denver's one advantage on offence was a rock-solid power running game - 1st in the league in rushing yards, McGahee was having a great season. Everything else about their offence truly sucked. The Steelers came in with a view to shut down that rushing game and that Tebow would be Tebow and complete deep passes at his normal rate.

Unfortunately for them Denver was getting some pretty good pass protection and Tebow kept on making those flukey deep passes. Over the season he only completed 10% of his long throws - suddenly he's hitting everything and the Steelers are giving up multiple 50+ yard plays.

Hindsight tells us that the Patriots approach was a better choice but I actually thought the Steelers gameplan wasn't that bad. They played the odds and the Broncos got a massive dose of luck to beat them.
posted by N-stoff at 8:28 AM on March 26, 2012


In the third quarter of the Broncos-Patriots game, Brady had more touchdown passes than Tebow had completed passes.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:30 AM on March 26, 2012


He needs to be replaced by a guy who's a decade older and has had at least four or five neck surgeries in the last year

Or to put it another way they are replacing one of the worst three QBs in the NFL with the final years of one of the 5 best QBs to ever play the game.

If you care more about winning than the publicity and the jersey sales there is no logical argument that you can make for the Broncos to keep Tebow over Manning. 3 years of Manning at 80% of his potential is far more likely to happen (and far more valuable) than the chance Tebow becomes even a NFL-average starting QB at some point in his career.
posted by N-stoff at 9:00 AM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Pats defense (which, let me remind you, was historically bad--it would have allowed the most passing yards in league history if it weren't for Green Bay stinking up the joint even worse)

Argh. You get so much right, and then you parrot the ESPN talking point that Yards Are King. The Patriots defense was middle-of-the-pack by virtually every other measure: points, third down conversions, red zone conversions, interceptions, etc etc. Yards are only meaningful because they often correlate with other performance measurements. In this case: they don't. Patriots had a pretty okay defense.
posted by Plutor at 9:00 AM on March 26, 2012


A week later, Denver faced a coach who is known by making in-game adjustments. And Belicheck never had to adjust a thing.

Yours are all great points Mayor West, but what should have happened is that Den. would have adjusted to the cover two by running the ball into that spacious defense. But they couldn't because the fat guys up front did an absolutely stellar job of defending the read option.

Vince Wilfork and the D line were great in that game. And they showed why the read option will probably not work in the pros. It can be figured out once you see enough film.

The thing about defending Tebow is you have to respect what he actually can do. Belichick really likes Tebow and he took him seriously.
posted by Trochanter at 9:02 AM on March 26, 2012


They signed him because he's a winner.

Er, he played on a team that won half of the games they played that season. How much of that was him is entirely debatable. Personally I think he was just good enough to let the kicker and defense save the games. Which I guess is better than actively loosing games.

Honestly, the most frustrating thing to me is how quickly Denver's been turning over QBs, but maybe my calibration is just off thanks to Elway. In Denver head coaches come and go, but Elway is eternal.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:07 AM on March 26, 2012


Roger Staubach had a big windup and I never heard a word about it.

Roger Staubach played in a very different era -- one before things like overloading offensive line rush schemes, zone blitzing, and the Cover-2/Tampa-2 backfield.

You played in strict pro-set, you almost never saw anyone overloading one side with receivers, and the vertical offense was just starting to become a factor. Air Coryell was just starting in 1978, the West Coast would come later. The running game was still the dominant form of the game, which is why Staubach stood out as one of the very few passing QBs, and defenses simply weren't ready for a pass heavy attack. Tight Ends of the day were primarily blockers, a few (such as Mike Ditka) would run short out routes, but they were blockers first, ball carriers second, and receivers third.

Most importantly, however, the athleticism and speed of the players were much lower than they are today. If Staubach stood up in the pocket and did that big windup, he'd be crushed repeatedly. The reason that Rodgers and Brees -- and, for that matter, Steve Young -- were so successful was how quickly they could read and react to a defense. They reacted in different ways, but they spent milliseconds deciding, and when they all wanted to throw, that ball was delivered as quickly as it was possible. Yes, all three would occasionally stand tall, step forward with a big windup and send the ball deep, but all three could make a very quick flip for 10 yards accurately, and Rodgers and Brees do that while running away from a defense.

The primary requirements for a modern pro-set NFL QB are intelligence, quickness and accuracy. Range is much less important, if you're only good for 30 yards, you run the routes to fit, but if you can't quickly and accurately get the ball out of your hands and into the receivers, no route can help you unless the defense is completely inept. You have to be able to read a defense almost instantly, to figure out what players are actually coming, which are dropping into protection, and what seams are being created by those decisions, because that's where your open guy is going to be. That factor is what made Peyton Manning possibly the best modern QB in the game, and why Denver is willing to risk him being able to play.

Rodgers is the ultimate reactive quarterback -- he can see what is happening and get out of the way. Peyton Manning is the ultimate proactive QB -- he basically knows what is going to happen from the read, often better than the defense does, because he's figured out what the defense is going to try *and* knows what the offense is actually going to do. Both could then put the ball into the receivers hands almost at will -- Rodgers ability to do this to the left side of the field while running hard to the right is damn near magic. Brees, I think, has the best arm of the three, but is in between the others on pro/reactive, but he's still a very smart QB.

Tebow isn't showing me any of those things. He starts to run a play and seems to get lost. When he throws, it seems to take forever between him deciding to throw and the ball actually leaving his hands, and when it does, it just sort of floats in the right general direction.

That's why I don't think he's a pro QB.
posted by eriko at 9:08 AM on March 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yes, probably yards allowed will have to be abandoned as THE metric for rating defenses.

But still, Pats D was not good. Against both the Ravens and the Giants, New England just plain couldn't get a stop.
posted by Trochanter at 9:13 AM on March 26, 2012


eriko your points are excellent but not totally convincing. Your zone blitz and whatnot are tactics to defend high power passing offense. Most current successful offenses are pass first and the current rules with regard to defensive coverage contact surely favor that but it is not the only way. Houston is doing run first and the New York Jets have recently been set up to be run first. If your running game is neutralizing the kamikaze blitzkreig packages there is no reason that Roger Staubach couldn't be a winning quarterback today. When you say he would get killed, I agree with you that he would get killed trying to run the Saints offense or the Packers offense or the Patriots offense. My opinion is Staubach would have competently run the Jets offense of the 2010 season and not have gotten killed. Maybe he wouldn't have taken them as far as Sanchez, but I think he would have done just fine.
posted by bukvich at 9:22 AM on March 26, 2012


Trochanter: "Against both the Ravens and the Giants, New England just plain couldn't get a stop."

The Ravens had to punt 4 times and settle for field goals 3 times. They only made it to the end zone twice. Giants - punt: 4, field goals: 2, end zone: 2.

How 2/9 and 2/8 possessions is "couldn't get a stop" is beyond me.
posted by Plutor at 9:25 AM on March 26, 2012


They were always good in the red area. Pats did great considering. One of Bill's great runs, given what he was working with.
posted by Trochanter at 9:28 AM on March 26, 2012


I guess what I should have said was, "couldn't get the stop they needed." It happened all year against teams with a winning record, whom the Pats couldn't beat all year.
posted by Trochanter at 9:30 AM on March 26, 2012


I think it's too early to make a call on Tebow. His subpar statistics aside, he does bring some good things to the field: a great running option, excellent throwing range, and massive self-confidence. I believe that last part is key to the Tebow acquisition, if he gets some early successes with the Jets then the entire team's confidence will get a much needed boost - and that can make difference between a losing season and a winning season. His leadership on and off the field will be a factor next season; something that Sanchez never showed.

I don't really believe the Tebow hype either, I saw his two playoff games and agree with most: he got lucky vs Pittsburgh and then was powerless versus New England. However he could surprise us all and lead the Jets to the playoffs, and if he does wouldn't that be a story!
posted by Vindaloo at 9:43 AM on March 26, 2012


bukvich, I'd agree that mid-career Staubach might be competent as a QB in a modern run-heavy offence. But that is all he would be, not the great QB he was in the 70's as the game has changed too much. In 1978 Staubach led the NFL in Passer Rating with a score of 84.1. In 2011 Aaron Rodgers led the NFL with a rating of 122.5, and the top 10 were all over 90. Staubach would have been a bit better than Matt Hasselbeck, not quite as good as Cam Newton. When a 36 year old Matt Hasselbeck wrapping up his career with the Titans is somewhat equivalent it isn't a good sign.

The demands put on a QB today are far different than they were 35 years ago and accuracy and a quick release (both emphasized by the passer rating formula) are both at a premium. (note - personally I think if Staubach was coming into the game today with modern coaching he'd be great, the quicks would have been ironed out in high school/college. 70's-era Staubach not so much)
posted by N-stoff at 9:47 AM on March 26, 2012


* quirks, not quicks.
posted by N-stoff at 9:48 AM on March 26, 2012


Argh. You get so much right, and then you parrot the ESPN talking point that Yards Are King. The Patriots defense was middle-of-the-pack by virtually every other measure: points, third down conversions, red zone conversions, interceptions, etc etc. Yards are only meaningful because they often correlate with other performance measurements. In this case: they don't. Patriots had a pretty okay defense.

Fair enough. I don't like total-yards-allowed as the major metric in defensive efficiency, either--it ignores turnovers and red-zone efficiency, and conceals garbage-time yards when teams are playing from 3 scores down running dink-and-dunk stuff against a soft cover 4. I'm just using it here as a proxy for what I saw: the Pats pass defense was really appalling between the 20's, highlighted mainly by a major regression in their best cornerback, and breakdowns by both safeties. By week 12 or so, there weren't a lot of defenses that opposing quarterbacks would have preferred to meet: their best pass-rusher was down for the year, both starting corners were playing with no confidence, and they were banking almost entirely on the arm of Brady being better than the competition. And Tebow looked like a deer in the headlights against them.
posted by Mayor West at 9:51 AM on March 26, 2012


But still, Pats D was not good. Against both the Ravens and the Giants, New England just plain couldn't get a stop... I guess what I should have said was, "couldn't get the stop they needed."

Giants sure, but Wilfork's performance against the Ravens was one of the most dominating single performances by a defensive player I've ever seen. I have no idea what you're talking about. He was in their backfield constantly, just abusing whoever was attempting to block him and collapsing the pocket. And time after time when the D needed a big play he came up with it.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:56 AM on March 26, 2012


Some reactions after the game to Wilfork's play. And a highlight as an example. He was doing that all game long.

Wilfork's big game went beyond the stats, as it usually does, but don't sleep on the score sheet. He had six tackles (three solo), one sack and three tackles for loss. The Ravens didn't gain a first down on their first three possessions of the game, and Wilfork singlehandedly blew up four of their first nine plays.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:01 AM on March 26, 2012


I love Wilfork. What did I say about the Broncos game? The up front guys shut down the run and Tebow doesn't have the stuff to exploit what the secondary was giving him. The issue is the backfield, where they were killed by a lack of play making talent. Plus, it's no secret the Pats still haven't really got a great outside rusher. They took a flyer on Haynesworth that didn't fly.

Dude, if you think everything's fine with Pats D, I don't know what you're talking about.
posted by Trochanter at 11:06 AM on March 26, 2012


Y'know how there's athletes who always tuck in their jerseys a certain way. or don't wash their socks when they're playing well? Tebow's a virgin. Some Jersey Girl will fuck his lights out, and all his athletic ability will disappear forever.

/Giants fan
posted by jonmc at 11:15 AM on March 26, 2012


Dude, if you think everything's fine with Pats D, I don't know what you're talking about

I don't think everything is fine with the Pats D, obviously the secondary is a serious issue. The only thing I really was responding to was your claim that in the Ravens game they couldn't get a stop when it mattered. That Wilfork highlight was him blowing up the center on 4th and 6 with 2:53 left in the game and forcing an incompletion. That's pretty much the definition of making a play when it matters.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:20 AM on March 26, 2012


A couple of years ago, I'd laugh at what I'm about to write, but here goes: Tim Tebow is a leader of men, and that makes a difference on the football field. His leadership makes players around him better, and that absolutely counts for something, even if it's nearly impossible for a stats-lover like myself to quantify. And maybe it's the coast-centric media bias talking here, but aren't the Jets in dire need of a leader after last season's collapse?

I have a soft spot for unorthodox athletes at their positions, so I'll probably always cheer for Tebow. I think it's actually pretty fun to watch a quarterback who can't actually throw a pass, which is "obviously" an important task for the position...except when it's not. He will never really be a backup but rather a backup plan, since you can't really just plug him into an existing offense, you have to build new plays around his strengths.

Football's a game of evolution - Tebow is just another mutation to correct for, which will make the game stronger in the long run.
posted by antonymous at 11:24 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Antonymous, I was rooting for Tebow too even though I am on the record of saying he wouldn't cut it as an NFL QB coming out of college and I don't agree with his politics at all. Plus all those comebacks were bananas, I don't see how someone could root against those if they are a fan of sports. Anyway, like you say watching him play QB cycled between mesmerizing, baffling, and hilarious. And in a league which has pretty homogenous offenses, especially compared to the college game, it was great as a fan of the X's and O's to watch a funky offense at work. Triple option out of the Pistol? Zone read? Speed option? Wildcat? Bring it on! I'm not sure it'll work longterm in the NFL but I love to watch them try, my absolute favorite offense to watch is Navy.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:31 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Broncos only beat the Bears because Marion Barber ran out of bounds with Chicago leading 10-7 with 1:55 left in the game and the Broncos out of timeouts, which kept the Bears from running out the clock. Barber also fumbled in overtime on the Broncos 33-yard line.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:40 AM on March 26, 2012


Tim Tebow is a leader of men, and that makes a difference on the football field.

Cue Joy Division.
posted by spicynuts at 11:48 AM on March 26, 2012


If I were a fan of the Broncos or the Jets I would definitely not have this opinion; Tebow is one of the more interesting quarterback stories in the NFL since Doug Flutie was in his hay day. Wouldn't that be hilarious if the Jets were on Hard Knocks and you got camera pans of Tebow's reactions to Ryan's f-bombs logorrheas? But not if you were a Jets fan in which case you would probably be throwing a shoe at the television.
posted by bukvich at 11:49 AM on March 26, 2012


3 years of Manning at 80% of his potential is far more likely to happen (and far more valuable) than the chance Tebow becomes even a NFL-average starting QB at some point in his career.

Time will tell, but I see it as better odds that Manning doesn't finish the 2013 season and never wins another playoff game. Potential or no, he's broken. This wasn't Tommy John surgery or a broken thumb. This was at least four surgeries on his neck. Bounty or not, do you think there's a single team out there without at least one defender who doesn't really, really want to be The Guy Who Took Peyton Manning Out? I don't even want to watch Broncos games this year for fear that I will witness a murder on the field.
posted by Etrigan at 11:52 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a Jet fan, the Tebow trade completely mystifies me.

The Jets had reasonable success using Brad Smith in quite a few packages, and adding Tony Sparano would make you think that the Jets will be using wildcat looks. Isn't Tebow just about the best fit for the run/pass possibilties that these packages present? It's not like they're bringing in Tebow to be the heir apparent to Mark Sanchez. I can imagine that D-coordinators would probably not look forward to the 3rd and short, goal-line type situations where Tebow creates the most problems for them.

The fun part will be that as soon as Sanchez has a few crappy games in a row, there will be a whole contingent of Jets fans who will clamor for Tebow to replace him.

I think people are generally overreacting to the trade, but, seriously, could there have been a more entertaining destination for him than the Jets?
posted by MoonOrb at 12:02 PM on March 26, 2012


The only thing I really was responding to was your claim that in the Ravens game they couldn't get a stop when it mattered.

Are you content with what you saw in Ravens' final drive? Let me find a breakdown...

(1:44) (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass incomplete deep left to 81-A.Boldin.
2-10-BAL 21 (1:39) (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass short left to 88-D.Pitta to BAL 26 for 5 yards (25-P.Chung).
3-5-BAL 26 (1:14) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass short left to 81-A.Boldin ran ob at BAL 39 for 13 yards [95-M.Anderson].
1-10-BAL 39 (1:09) (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass incomplete short middle to 27-R.Rice (51-J.Mayo).
2-10-BAL 39 (1:05) (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass short middle to 81-A.Boldin to BAL 48 for 9 yards (23-N.Jones).
Timeout 2 by BAL at 00:58.
3-1-BAL 48 (:58) (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass short left to 81-A.Boldin pushed ob at NE 23 for 29 yards (32-D.McCourty). 1-10-NE 23 (:51) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass short right to 81-A.Boldin to NE 14 for 9 yards (11-J.Edelman). FUMBLES (11-J.Edelman), ball out of bounds at NE 10.
2-1-NE 14 (:27) (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass incomplete short right to 83-L.Evans (29-S.Moore).
3-1-NE 14 (:22) (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass incomplete short right to 88-D.Pitta (29-S.Moore) [52-D.Fletcher].
4-1-NE 14 (:15) 7-B.Cundiff 32 yard field goal is No Good, Wide Left, Center-46-M.Cox, Holder-4-


Thank the good lord for Sterling Moore is all I can say. (Don't get me wrong, football is about making plays and Pats got them.)



On the other thing, I stumbled on an Army game this year. Man, that's a bizarre looking offense. They all rush to the line and get set in a hurry up look, then in slow motion unison they turn to the bench and get the play-call signs.

(Frankly it looks like a borderline cheat. Like a sniping camper in an online game, or someone who exploits a glitch in Madden.)
posted by Trochanter at 12:04 PM on March 26, 2012


> Time will tell, but I see it as better odds that Manning doesn't finish the 2013 season and never wins another playoff game. Potential or no, he's broken.

The medical expert on our local sports station says he is good to go. Also the Broncos gave him the most thorough exam possible before ponying up (!) their millions. The reason for the four surgeries is they tried to get him fixed up without a fusion so he could retain normal flexibility. That sucker is now fused which means his motion is X% restricted. 2%? 4%? 6%?

We'll see. I would wish him the best of luck except I root for the Raiders.
posted by bukvich at 12:46 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't watch much football, but I'd heard Tebow tends not to deliver until overtime, and I kind of wonder if that's really hard on a team from a fatigue/injury/setting up the next game perspective?
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:36 PM on March 26, 2012


The New York Times isn't known for trenchant sports analysis

Maudlin, I see your quote and raise you:

Stripped of his play-calling duties, Jim Zorn is now like Puyi in ''The Last Emperor.'' He can order around the eunuchs and canoodle with Ar Mo, but he has little decision-making power.
posted by Challahtronix at 1:40 PM on March 26, 2012


Time will tell, but I see it as better odds that Manning doesn't finish the 2013 season and never wins another playoff game.

You know what? Even if that is true the Broncos are arguably still better off. The odds against Tebow developing into a competent QB are huge but while he was still wearing a Broncos uniform the team was stuck with an immensely popular starting QB with almost no future. They were doomed to mediocrity until Tebow either failed so badly that not even the diehard fans could give him another chance or he magically discovered how to throw a football accurately, quickly and catchable (still waiting for the first QB able to do this while playing in the modern NFL). Now if Manning is medically unable to play they get his salary back via the injury clauses in the contract, get a nice high draft pick and get to start the rebuild years earlier than with the Tebow experiment.

In terms of maximizing their chance to go deep in the playoffs as quickly as possible the Broncos front office absolutely belted this one out of the park.
posted by N-stoff at 2:18 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I look forward to Timmy lobbing wounded ducks for no gain, asking Jesus for guidance on his shit-tastic delivery, and getting pounded into the turf time and time again.

He's basically Christmas for atheists.
posted by bardic at 9:11 PM on March 26, 2012


I don't like total-yards-allowed as the major metric in defensive efficiency, either

I've been sort of trying to gel a "Total Effective Yards." The best I've come up with is..

Total Effective Yards is the sum of
1) Total yards per possession, where that possession ends in an TD
2) Total yards per possession, minus the kick, for a FG
(These two are the same as Total Yards Gained or Total Yards Allowed)
3) Total yards per possession, minus the total yards of the first series of the opposing team, when that possession does not score and ends in a normal 4th down turnover. The punt/return are not counted.
4) Total yards per possession, minus yards after recovery and the total yards of the first series of the opposing team, for possessions resulting in turnovers.

Basically, the assumption is you need yards, but not scoring is important. Since this is an offensive measure, we assume three-and-out on the other team failing to score, so you're "advancement" is how far you went, minus how far they went on third down. If you score on a kick, you don't count the kicking yards. If you turn it over, you lose the yards after the turnover + that first series.

I still have trouble with it. Clearly, if you don't score, you're losing TEY, because the other team is going to march back, but this is supposed to be an offensive measures, and the returning yards are a defensive tests. But, if I go 30 yards, we ignore the punt distance, and you come back only 10 yards before punting, the offense has added 10 yards.

I've though that a standard distance might work if you don't score -- say, term #3 becomes "Total Yards - 10, for possessions ending in normal 4th down turnovers" but I hate to ignore actual data. If you fail to advance, and Jay Cutler nails one to Johnny Knox for 50 yards on 2nd down, then, well, if you'd still had possession, the ball is 50 yards to the good. So, I waiver there.

I've also thought that term 4 should just be "No yards for a possession ending in a turnover", but if you go 60 yards, turn the ball over, then you're defense stuffs the other side and the punt is 40 yards total, you're still 20 yards closer to the goal at the end of the cycle. But, OTOH, you can argue that a possession ending in turnovers is of such lower value that you might as well not count it. I do think counting yards after recovery is important -- that at least covers the cost, in terms of yardage, of things like a pick 6.

However, while Total Yards Gained/Allowed is not an idea metric, it's still a very good one that does correlate with how effective Offense A is against Defense B. Yes, there are times where team A wins the yardage game, but team B wins the game, but in general, if Team A dominates the yardage game, they do very well on the scoreboard as well, and when you average it out over a season, it becomes a useful, if not perfect, measure of how effective an offense or defense is. It would be better, of course, if every team played every other team, but that won't happen.
posted by eriko at 6:15 AM on March 27, 2012


Some Jersey Girl will fuck his lights out, and all his athletic ability will disappear forever.


I think he is in the closet. It would explain a lot.
posted by futz at 8:07 AM on March 27, 2012


Tebowe Gives Left-Handers Someone-to-Cheer
posted by nathancaswell at 8:22 AM on March 27, 2012


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