Is Loeffler to blame for Tebow’s struggles?

By Adam Silverstein
November 18, 2009

There are a lot of factors that determine the success of a college quarterback. The most prominent of all is whether or not he wins games – and Florida Gators senior Tim Tebow wins games. So tossing that fact, his 2007 Heisman Trophy and back-to-back Maxwell Awards aside, I wanted to take an look at what has been going on with Tebow this season. Especially one day after discussing offensive coordinator Steve Addazio.

If you don’t think Tebow is struggling, think again. While his completion percentage is consistent with career numbers, his passer rating is down almost 19 points from 2007 and 2008. He has as many interceptions in 10 games (4) as he did through the entire 2008 season and is on pace to be sacked more times in 2009 than he has been in his first three seasons – combined. After throwing for 2,746 yards in 2008, he is projected to finish with 500 less in 2009. And finally, after passing for 30 or more touchdowns in each of the last two years, he only has 10 right now.

There have been issues this year. Play calling, especially in the red zone, has been a problem as head coach Urban Meyer has admitted. The offense as a whole lacks an explosive playmaker like now-Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin. (Freshman Andre Debose was supposed to fill some of that role.) Perhaps the bigger issue at hand is the tinkering done to Tebow by new quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler.

Loeffler was hired to improve Tebow’s skills, but has he? After the jump…

Loeffler comes from a strong background and can boast plenty of experience and success. He coached Tom Brady and Chad Henne while with the Michigan Wolverines, after all. And while Brady, Henne and Tebow all possess that “winning” quality, Tebow is not a pure pocket passer like the other two. He has a different set of skills and wins games with his legs as well as his arm. Loeffler was added to the staff after former offensive coordinator and QB coach Dan Mullen left in order to hold down the latter position, assist in recruiting talented players and improve Tebow’s mechanics while molding him into an NFL-ready quarterback.

What I have seen as a result of Loeffler’s teachings is someone in Tebow who is taking longer to make decisions, not going through his progressions, struggling to get the ball out on time and rarely wanting to throw it away when under pressure. It is also quite obvious that Tebow’s throwing motion, which was supposed to quicken after Loeffler taught him to throw more overhand with a higher release point, is perhaps even slower.

There are other mitigating factors in this discussion. Tebow suffered a concussion, and his return was under intense media scrutiny – but that was two months ago. The offensive line (which is still being shifted around) is not providing him anywhere near the protection he was afforded in 2008. I can also count at least five touchdowns (many of which were also for big yardage) that were simply dropped – not Tebow’s fault.

In the end, you have to commend the guy for putting it all on his shoulders. Senior WR Riley Cooper drops/misses two catchable touchdowns? Tebow says he didn’t throw the ball perfectly. He gets stopped on a fourth down? Never mind that the offensive line didn’t open a hole for him – Tebow says he didn’t hit it hard enough. Such accountability and leadership is rare to find in college football. I’m just curious if Loeffler finds himself at all accountable for (or at least able to correct) Tebow’s recent issues.

7 Comments

  1. Mr2Bits says:

    The mechanics sounds like my run-down from this past weekends game so I can’t fight you on any of that. It has definitely been a digression this year. It seems as though we are running allot more but the proper players aren’t getting the carries. Do you know what Tebow’s average rushing attempts per game were over the last 3 years? I know he is well into the 20-25 area now which is more than most heavy duty backs get.

  2. Tebow had 176 last year and already has 171 this year. But he had 210 in 2007. One thing I also looked at was his rushing average, because the last few games it has been alarmingly low. But believe it or not, the numbers are consistent. 3.8 yards per rush last year, 3.5 so far this year.

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  4. Mr2Bits says:

    Adam,
    Difference this year is the sacks piling up and crushing his rushing yards per game. If they didn’t deduct rushing yards for sacks on QB’s it would be allot higher this year. He has probably lost an extra 100 yards rushing with the sack differential between this year and past years

  5. Drew 4 Orange and Blue says:

    Unless Loeffler coaches the O-line or WR’s then he certainly can’t shoulder a majority of the blame…..how many bombs and TD’s have been dropped this year….I can think of 6-7 right off the top of my head…and how many many times has Tebow been pressured by the front 4 before he can even get into his reads….there is plenty of blame to go around.

  6. Drew- I wasn’t necessarily trying to imply that it is all Loeffler’s fault. In fact, I tried to show a multitude of other things that need to be taken into account (including the dropped touchdowns). Nevertheless, if you were to just watch Tebow and how he throws and makes decisions, something is missing.

  7. Aligator says:

    i think the following issues could not have come at a worse time for tim:

    mullen leaving
    addazio taking over OC/being an overwhelmed OL coach
    loefler teaching mechanics to tebow for the NFL???
    terrible play calling and tim second guessing himself due to a new way of doing things ….

    this whole thing reminds me of when rex grossman came back for his senior year under zook and had a rough turn of it …..

    i think what we are seeing is someone who just wills his team to win by shear energy and desire each week now as it may be another year before the coaches and system settle in. good thing for brantley …. tim will be winning no awards this year.

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