NFL teams learning “Tebow time” is plenty real

By Adam Silverstein
December 12, 2011

Neither the statistics nor the production nor the results can be denied at this point. The fact of the matter is that something special happens to Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow when the fourth quarter rolls around.

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Not only is Tebow more productive near the end of games, he is more efficient and makes the most out of every opportunity he touches the ball because he realizes there are limited chances remaining to pull out a victory.

That is one reason why five of Tebow’s seven wins in 2011 have come via late fourth-quarter comebacks (three were completed in overtime).

However, there are other factors at play here. Tebow’s numbers are also higher later in games because head coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy are giving him the opportunity to be more productive through the air by going away from their run-first game plan and calling more passes.

Tebow has thrown the ball 80 times in the fourth quarter this year compared to just 111 through the first three. In other words, more passing plays are being called for Tebow in the final 15 minutes than in any other 30-minute stretch of a game.

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]One reason for this is that he is keeping drives alive longer by playing better (completing more passes), which partially indicates why his rushing attempts follow a similar pattern. However, Tebow’s coaches are also lining up more passing plays because Denver is often playing from behind and needs to catch up, which makes one curious as to what would happen if they were nearly as aggressive throughout the entire contest.

The abundance of passing plays being called late in games is allowing Tebow to find a groove that he is seemingly unable to establish earlier partially due to the concentrated run effort. He usually starts by completing some short passes and dump offs (taking advantage of the prevent defense) before spreading teams out and throwing down the field for long completions and the occasional bomb.

Denver takes on New England next week, a team that features the worst passing defense in the league (310.0 yards per game) and the 10th-best rushing defense (102.1 yards per game). Considering QB Tom Brady has led his team to 30+ points in each of the last five games (and in 10 of 13 contests this year), Tebow’s best chance at succeeding on Sunday may be to throw early and often.

Should Fox agree and Tebow deliver another performance like he did against Minnesota in Week 13, “Tebow time” could start earlier and last longer than the final 15 minutes.

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger[/EXPAND]


  1. John S says:

    He is also playing from the shotgun, which is helping him make his reads better w/o taking his eyes off the defense. I think the real reason for the offense’s struggles against the bears was the offensive line, who had been playing really well until last weak. It would be nice to have the 4th quarter offense in there earlier, but so long as he keeps winning I’ll take it.

    He is improving too which is something his detractors seem to believe is impossible. Scrambling to make the pass is critical to his recent success.

    He’s turning into a likable Roethlisberger

    • He’s able to do that though, partially, because they’re calling so many more pass plays. Opponents know he’s not throwing from under center most of the time.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      It would also have helped a lot if he actually had receivers who caught the balls when he throws them in perfect spots…they had what, 6-7 drops at least yesterday?

  2. Bobg says:

    I cringe through the first three quarters as the Broncos against tough defenses, such as the Bears, run on first, run on second, and try to throw on 3rd and long. That kind of predictability is death in the NFL.

    I would hope that the Bronco brain trust is thinking long and hard about what causes the startling changes that occur in the 4th qtr. Can they adjust Tim’s psyche early in the game? Or do they need to look at their game plan? (Of course they should also look at why their receivers go from having “Dropsy” to making pro quality catches once the game is on the line.)

    One thing is now obvious. John Fox loves Tim Tebow as a winner and competitor. How often do you see an NFL HC hugging a QB on the sideline? I have to believe that Fox realizes that Tim’s qualities are priceless, and worth nurturing. The perceived mechanical deficiencies, and inexperience issues can be addressed.

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