It’s been a while, but Tim Tebow is back on the NFL radar due to his last Monday work out with the Philadelphia Eagles. According to sports anchor Dianna Marie Russini, there is an 80% chance the Eagles sign Tebow, hinging on the trade of third string QB Matt Barkley.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly has been blasted for his preseason moves, including the shocking trade of starting running back LeSean McCoy, and the trade of previous starting quarterback Nick Foles. He hushed a few naysayers with the signing of former Dallas Cowboy running back DeMarco Murray, but all that chatter came rushing back with the Tim Tebow work out.
So what do some of Coach Kelly’s moves suggest, and would Tim Tebow be able to contribute to the Eagles?
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Chip Kelly runs a high octane spread option offense. His hurry up offense set records in college with a mere 15 seconds from the spot of the ball to the next snap. He focuses on play action calling, a strong running game, and quarterback efficiency. His release of two starting wide receivers puts even further emphasis on the necessity for a strong rushing offense.
Tim Tebow flourished in the same type of spread option offense when he played for the Florida Gators. He set records for his passing efficiency and rushing touchdowns. But even at Florida his passing skills were questioned. Luckily for Tebow, he worked in an offensive system that was a perfect fit for his skills. While his mechanics may not have been perfect he was able to get the ball down the field decisively, whether through the air or on the ground. Chip Kelly has been outspoken about building an offense with his quarterback in mind. According to Kelly, “Our offense is directed around our quarterback. So tell me who is playing quarterback and I’ll tell you what our offense is going to be and how it’s going to look because we can always cater it to the skills of our offense.” This would favor Tebow who was booted from The Broncos, after failing to adapt to their offensive scheme.
While his passing prowess may be questioned, his rushing talents have translated well from college to the NFL. He finished with a 5.35 regular season rushing average and 12 touchdowns over his two seasons with the Denver Broncos. He holds the record for longest touchdown run by a quarterback in Denver Bronco history, as well as being the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for a touchdown in each of his first three career starts. This type of rushing success would likely translate well in the Eagles offensive scheme.
But quarterback efficiency is a big stickler for the success of the spread option, and it’s no secret that Tim Tebow has questionable mechanics. Fortunately the Eagles have thrown a play action pass on 32% of all passing plays. That’s the second most in the NFL. The play action on average improves quarterback passer ratings by 10.5 points. But the Eagles have been more successful than most, and have seen a 25.8 point increase in passer rating at the quarterback position when using the play action call. Focusing on play action passes and a hurry up offense could greatly benefit Tebow, with less down field passes, minimal pass patterns, while focusing on the run and play fakes.
But it seems Chip Kelly’s preseason maneuvers have not been based solely on field production. Both DeSean Jackson and LeSean ‘Shady’ McCoy have been rumored to have locker room issues, and Coach Kelly has made his locker room presences known early. One of his early moves as head coach was to degroup the locker room based on position, and let players congregate where ever they like, encouraging veterans and rookies to intermingle. Strong locker room presence and leadership is very important to Chip.
Tim Tebow brings this to teams in spades. He was elected team captain by coaches in 2008 and 2009, and is the only three time Florida MVP, voted on by his peers. In Denver, he lead his team from behind multiple times and was lauded by his fellow players for his leadership qualities. Say what you will about his mechanics, or his passing ability, but it’s pretty much universally accepted that Tebow is a stand up guy, who brings out the best in his fellow players.
Will Tebow end up with the Philadelphia Eagles? Honestly, it’s probably less than the 80% chance quoted by Russini, however, Tim Tebow does have some qualities that would contribute to the success of the Eagles. I for one, am hoping to see more of Tim Tebow in an NFL uniform.
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