The New York Jets have watched as much film as they can gather on Tim Tebow, and still aren’t quite sure what to expect.
They know Denver’s quarterback will run a whole lot Thursday night in the Broncos’ unconventional option-style offense. But will he throw some, too? And, how much?
“You’re looking at formations or personnel groupings that tell you it’s going to be a pass, and it’s not with this group,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday. “That’s a little different, but you better be sound and obviously assume he’s running with it.”
After spending last week preparing for New England‘s Tom Brady, a quarterback they’ve had plenty of experience playing against, the Jets have only a few days to get ready for a player who’s a completely different type of opponent.
“You think of running quarterbacks, and most guys are a little more shifty and kind of got that make-you-miss (style),” safety Jim Leonhard said. “He’d rather run you over than run around you. It’s just different, a different mentality. He’s more like a fullback than a true tailback when he runs the football.”
Which is often. Tebow was just 2 of 8 passing for 69 yards in a 17-10 win at Kansas City last Sunday, but also ran for 43 yards on nine carries. The second-year quarterback has been criticized for not being an NFL-caliber passer, but he has won three of his four starts this season — mostly with his legs.
Tebow is 47 of 105 for 605 yards and seven touchdowns and just one interception, and is Denver’s second-leading rusher with 320 yards and two scores on only 48 carries.
“This is a college-style offense and it’s around Tim Tebow and it looks just like he’s at the University of Florida,” cornerback Darrelle Revis said. “He does a great job running it and we know he’s going to have his carries and we know he’s going to throw the ball. They have no choice but to throw the ball. They did it in the past, and they’re going to do it again.”
But when is the question, and that’s what has kept defenses off balance so far.
The Broncos ran 55 times in 63 offensive plays against Kansas City — and that was even with running backs Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee getting hurt in the first quarter. With the game still in the balance, Tebow made a play with his arm, tossing a 56-yard pass to Eric Decker to seal the victory.
“The thing with him is you have to stay disciplined because as inconsistent as he is throwing the football, all of the sudden he’ll make a throw where you go, ‘Wow, that was impressive,’” Leonhard said. “And for the most part, those throws have been touchdowns. They’re a big-play, fast-strike offense when they do throw the ball down the field.”
Moreno is out for the season with a knee injury, and McGahee’s status was uncertain because of a tweaked hamstring. That means there could be a lot of third-stringer Lance Ball and, of course, a scrambling Tebow.
The Jets have been using 41-year-old Mark Brunell, one of the game’s most mobile quarterbacks in his prime, on the scout team to mimic the 24-year-old Tebow.
“I’m left-handed and he is left-handed, and that’s about it right there,” Brunell joked when asked how similar he is to Tebow.
With such a run-heavy offense, there will be plenty of action for the Jets’ run stoppers, particularly defensive linemen Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito.
“The world falls on me and (DeVito),” Pouha said. “We like to pride ourselves on being the two fat guys, I guess, in the middle, but we pride ourselves on being able to stop the run.”
Despite the success Tebow and the Broncos have been having, Revis isn’t quite so sure the option style of offense can succeed for a full season in the NFL. Except, he told reporters, if a team had Michael Vick as the quarterback and Chris Johnson at running back. But not a big, bruising quarterback such as the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Tebow.
“This guy, he’s a tough guy,” Revis said. “He’s really another running back when he carries the ball. When you look at him on film, he’s not trying to avoid hits. He’s actually trying to lower his shoulder and take people on. You’ve got to respect that.”
Tebow wasn’t offended by Revis’ comments that the option couldn’t work with him as the quarterback, saying he was looking forward to playing against the Jets cornerback Thursday night.
“I honestly don’t necessarily pay attention or worry too much about what others say,” Tebow said. “I just try to get better every day and consistently try to improve.”
Tebow said the Broncos shouldn’t be labeled as one type of offense because the team is trying to come up different approaches depending on the opponent. After all, he threw 39 times in a 45-10 loss to Detroit three weeks ago.
“It’s difficult in a way because it’s similar to a wildcat offense where they can run and they can also pass,” Revis said. “On defense, for us, the D-line and the linebackers just need to focus on the run and this is a game for the secondary, for us not to fall asleep back there because we’ve seen on film that they’ve done a lot of double-moves and trick plays.”
Definitely not the same type of pass-happy offense they just faced a few days ago.
“I’d make a recommendation to New England to go to this style of offense with Brady,” Ryan joked. “That would be good.”
Notes: A day after Ryan took full blame for quarterback Mark Sanchez’s ill-advised timeout before halftime that allowed the Patriots enough time to score a go-ahead TD, Sanchez said it was his fault. Ryan told NBC it was the “stupidest thing in football history. “It was a stupid play,” Sanchez said. “He’s dead-on. I’ve got to know the situation whether I heard something in the headset or not. You’re not playing against a rookie quarterback, you’re playing against Tom Brady, so even 30 extra seconds or whatever it was on the clock is inexcusable, so that’s on me.” … Broncos coach John Fox disputed a theory that he and football chief John Elway might not want Tebow to succeed because he was not their draft pick last year. “Well, it doesn’t make much sense,” Fox said on a conference call with New York reporters. “It’d be like buying a Ferrari and pouring sugar in the gas tank. I don’t think that makes much sense.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.