Quarterback Tim Tebow (15) of the Denver Broncos rushes for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs on November 13, 2011 during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
The Jets and Broncos meet on Thursday Night Football.
Fifty-five runs and eight passes? This is the way football was played in the 1930s and 1940s, not the way NFL teams play it today. This, though, is how Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos are playing as that is what they did Sunday in a 17-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
It is what the New York Jets have to prepare for as they get ready to meet the Broncos at Mile High Stadium Thursday night (8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network).
"We don't really know what they're going to do because they've been really multiple. Sometimes they spread them out. They'll go to empty and then run the ball with the quarterback. Running "O" plays and all that stuff. So, no matter what you see, you'll probably start by saying, it's probably a run, and then we'll defend the pass after it," said Jets coach Rex Ryan. "But 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. So, that's a little different, but you better be sound and obviously assume he's running with it."
The Broncos, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said, are basically running "a Wildcat offense the whole game with a quarterback that can run and throw the ball." Why are the Broncos turning back the clock on NFL offenses 70 or so years?
"I mean, what the hell? You don't get points for style in this league. Let me tell you something: My man is really good in this offense. You know what I mean?
"If we were trying to run a regular offense, he'd be screwed."
How about that novel concept? A head coach actually willing to scrap his playbook and tailor what his team does to suit the players he has -- or at least the quarterback. NFL coaches are generally loathe to try anything different, to bend much -- if at all -- from the way everyone else is doing things.
Fox knew what would be said if this gamble did not work, deserves a ton of credit for doing what no NFL coach would ever do for Doug Flutie, or really for any other NFL quarterback. Look at the guy, realize he has a unique skill set that does not fit the traditional NFL mold and actually run an offense built to take advantage of his strengths, rather than force him to fit into the NFL style.
"He's more like a fullback than he is a true tailback the way he runs the football," said Jets safety Jim Leonhard about Tebow. "The thing with him is you have to stay disciplined because as inconsistent as he is throwing the football, all of sudden, he'll make a throw where you look at it and go, "Wow, that was impressive." For the most part, those throws have been touchdowns. They are a big-play, kind of fast-strike offense when they throw the ball down the field."
Can this work long-term for the Broncos? Nobody knows that for sure. What Fox and the Broncos know is that they are 3-1 since Tebow became their starting quarterback, and that it is working now?
More to the point for this week, can it work against the Jets? Think about colleges that run this read-option, run heavy style of offense. It works when the team running it is more talented than the guys on the other side and can simply dominate physically. That, generally, is not the case in the NFL and won't be the case for Denver Thursday night. The read-option also works as long as you are winning or in a close, low-scoring game in which you can stay with the running game. Will the Broncos be able to do that Thursday night?
The Jets are not the Chiefs or the Oakland Raiders, the teams Denver defeated the past two weeks. The Jets have Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie at cornerback, meaning they can simply leave those two on the outside to play man coverage any time the Broncos decide to throw, and commit the remaining nine defenders to stuffing the Denver running game.
"You just have to take a different mentality into the game. You have a totally different game plan going in, but I think we have great coaches that teach us football, so we can make this transition," Leonhard said. "We have a lot of calls in our playbook to where it's not like we have to create new defenses to play a game like this. We have a lot of different things. We have a lot of flexibility in what we do and, like I said, our coaches do a great job of just teaching football. To make this transition, (it) shouldn't be that difficult."
It should be fun finding out how this works out on Thursday night.