Commentary

For a Tim Tebow plan, think Newton

They are vastly different players, but Denver can learn from Carolina's current run

Originally Published: October 12, 2011
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Tim TebowRon Chenoy/US PresswireTim Tebow is finally getting his opportunity to start at quarterback for the Denver Broncos.

When discussing potential personnel decisions, Bill Walsh would sometimes get upset with his scouts because they would tell him all the things a prospect couldn't do rather than telling him what the player could do.

This affirmative mindset of finding the things that players can do and building a game plan that accentuates those skills is the main reason Walsh was able to create a Super Bowl champion out of a ragtag roster that was the 1981 San Francisco 49ers.

This is helpful to keep in mind when reviewing the situations of Cam Newton and Tim Tebow. At the moment, there are few who believe Tebow can replicate Newton's early success, but a closer review of the game tape and metrics indicates there is a path the Denver Broncos can take to potentially put Tebow on par with Newton.

It all starts with building a game plan that, while not technically identical to the one the Carolina Panthers are using with Newton, retains three of the same overarching themes. A couple of these are very involved in the actual game plan, but the other is more about a philosophy that can help breed success.


Run the ball

One thing that seems to be forgotten in the excitement surrounding Newton's prolific passing numbers is Carolina's success running the ball. The Panthers' 583 rushing yards rank 11th in the NFL and their 4.7 yards per carry is tied for fifth-best. The addition of Newton hasn't made Carolina's coaches completely forget that good running backs are at the ready. And one thing that Denver may be forgetting in their zeal to start a quarterback who can run himself is a similar reality -- you too can run the ball.

The Broncos' running game isn't quite as good as Carolina's, but Denver is tied for ninth in yards per carry (4.3) and is nearly as productive in the good blocking yards per attempt (GBYPA) metric.

GBYPA measures how effective ball carriers are when blockers give them a good blocking situation (loosely defined as when the blockers do not allow the defenders to do anything to disrupt the rushing attempt).

Through five games, Carolina's blockers have given their rushers a good blocking situation 45.9 percent of the time, and those ball carriers have posted an 8.3 GBYPA mark.


To read the full story on why Tim Tebow can be as good as Cam Newton, sign up for ESPN Insider.