OT-Tebow and the Zone Read in the NFL

Submitted by Ziff72 on November 7th, 2011 at 11:26 AM

I'm not going to take 1 data point and claim success or failure, but I think it is interesting that Denver yesterday went as close to a "spread option college offense" as any team has ever done in the NFL for an entire game and they shredded the Raiders for over 300yds rushing with Tebow going for over 100.  It didn't seem they completely committed to it against the Lions, I think the Lions jumping out to the big lead had something to do with it.   The chances of Tebow making out of this season alive seem remote at this point, but I did find it interesting.

I believe almost any sound offense can work with good athletes and execution.  I just think it is an interesting argument point  for the faction of football fans that think certain offenses can't work against better athletes or in the Big Ten.

Ever since I was a kid I was always intrigued with the idea that an NFL team could try running Nebraskas offense from the 90's.  My idea was that you could install Nebraska Power Option Attack and invest the money normally reserved for qb's and put it into your offensive line.   Then I would draft a qb each year in the 6th-7th rd since they wouldn't normally get drafted and just keep rotating them in and out as they got hurt without much drop off.  My depth chart looked like this.

1st Tommie Frazier

2nd Tony Rice

3rd Scott Frost

4th Eric Crouch.

In any event if you can find the Broncos game next week it should be interesting to see what the counter for the Broncos is next week. If they get crushed then data point 2 will be a good counter against my whole post. 




Broken Brilliance

November 7th, 2011 at 11:38 AM ^

I'm not going to say one thing about any zone reads.


But seriously, if McDaniels could've gotten his team to play some defense when he was a head coach, he would have built an interesting offense. I really think the notion of a "pro-style" offense is becoming more and more of a myth. Players like Newton are shattering molds, and it will make the league even more exciting in the future.

MI Expat NY

November 7th, 2011 at 11:49 AM ^

I guess it all comes down to how well the offense can operate if the QB misses a couple games here or there, and if the back-up misses a couple games on top of that.  RBs in the league rarely make it through a season uninjured, to expect QB's to stay healthy is probably less likely.

I'm intrigued by the question, although it certainly would take three QBs on the roster you'd feel comfortable with, and probably a fourth on the practice squad.  I don't think there's any reason to believe that an offensive style can't translate from one level to the next, specifically the zone-read run offensive system.  Denver just showed it could work.  Miami a few years ago showed it could work, even without the true threat of the QB passing.


November 7th, 2011 at 12:01 PM ^

Excellent post.  Denard was injured most of the second half of last year's season from all the shots he took.

Rodriguez-esque zone-read is predicated on what the DE does IIRC.

In college, this usually involves a 20-22 year-old who is maybe 6'4", 200-230

In the pros, this involves DE/OLBs like Lamarr Woodley and James Harrison (250-260) (who by the way, was freaking insane last night, loved the move where he vaulted Ray Rice to hit Flacco).  This will result in your QB not making it through the first few games, let alone a 16 game season.

This would work for a season or two, but defenses would adjust.  The Wildcat came, and has quickly went in the NFL excluding a few plays here/there.

Tebow is such a big guy, that I think he can survive a bit longer than a smaller Vick/Denard type running QB.  But even he will get injured if they run him 15 times per game on a consistent basis.


November 7th, 2011 at 1:00 PM ^

Denard was injured last year.  He is injured this year in a totally different offense.  The systems don't make a difference where he is concerned.  It doesn't matter what system a team has; the more the QB runs, the more hits he sustains, and the more he is usually injured.  

In the NFL, no matter what system a team runs, running QB's usually get injured.  Switching to the zone read won't alter simple mathematics.  In Tebow's defense, he is bigger than a lot of those who are trying to tackle him, and can often be the hitter instead of the person being hit.  

We'll see how it goes.  I like it that he is being allowed to play QB, but still think he could be an all-pro at TE.  Hopefully, the Denver staff has a better reading on Tebow at the end of the season.  If they think he can be a starting QB, great.  If they don't, maybe a position change would help everyone. 


November 7th, 2011 at 12:04 PM ^

let's wait and see how sustainable this offense is against some other opponents.

Carolina doesn't call a whole lot of designed runs for Cam outside the red zone, they still run a pro style offense, his biggest strength is his vertical passing ability which I have never seen the likes of from a dual threat QB before.


November 7th, 2011 at 1:05 PM ^

especially given that more and more draftees are coming out of spread offenses.

I'm going to guess that running the zone read is not Denver's first choice of offensive schemes; it does give Tebow the best chance of success, so they'll have to give it a whirl.

The question is when defenses start playing it, and forcing Tebow to throw, can he he make enough throws to open the running game back up? And how long will it be before he's laying on the turf praying to walk again if Denver consistently uses him like a running back?


November 7th, 2011 at 1:05 PM ^

The odds of Denver duplicating that kind of production with the zone read after NFL coaches have film of them using it is as their base play is ZERO.


Mr. Robot

November 7th, 2011 at 2:34 PM ^

The biggest argument IMO against the spread in the pros is the risk of injury. Now every team, even the bad ones, have really good players (in terms of college) that would love to destroy your players.

Tebow is a guy who seems pretty durable and can take it for the most part, but that's not to say he's going to always get back up. Given the resistance to quarterbacks like him, though, I could see a scenario in which an NFL team could pick up two or three of these quarterbacks just because they aren't wanted by anyone else and make it work. That would be an interesting experiment.