It's hard to argue the Denver Broncos' Tim Tebow and Willis McGahee running the read option last Sunday left the Oakland Raiders defense as unsure where the ball was as a dog getting "deked" after a faked throw. So, fresh off the success of running over the Raiders for 298 yards are the Broncos (3-5) ready to turn the page on their more traditional NFL playbook and give the college style read option the old college try?
"I think we have to stay balanced is my opinion," Tebow said. "When a defense doesn't know if you're throwing it or running it, I think that's when you're most effective, and that is where we need to be. I think our offense is what it is, and we'll continue to run [the read option] and every week game plan a few new things just like any team would to try and take advantage of the defense we're going against.""
Although some have already somehow come to the conclusion Denver is going all in on the read option, the truth is, against the Raiders, the Broncos simply stayed with a play that was working against a defense that couldn't stop it. With John Fox's offensive philosophy seeming to be "why throw it if you don't have to" Denver only threw five passes in the second half against Oakland, because, well…they didn't have to. Outside of that, there doesn't seem to be any indication the Broncos have abandoned the passing game in favor of trickeration more suited to Saturdays.
"I think it (read option) can be something that can help us going forward, but we have to do some other things like getting the ball to receivers," McGahee said. "We have to get more passes in."
Not to say the read option was a one game wonder relegated to the flea flicker file of offensive coordinator Mike McCoy's playbook. On the contrary, the Broncos probably will use the play as part of their offense which opens up the debate the play opens up Tebow to taking on more ill intention from opposing defenses. However, Tebow doesn't necessarily think that is the case.
"I think that's a little bit of a myth too. You don't necessarily get hit as much on read plays as people would think. I'd say your hits are more just sitting in the pocket."
Just ask Tebow's chin. It was the recipient of Sunday's biggest hits from Raiders' linebacker Aaron Curry who twice went helmet-to-helmet with the Broncos quarterback (sans penalty) when he was throwing the football. After extensive research (or simply watching any NFL game), it turns out in a violent game players violently crash into each other every play and are in danger of physical harm all over the field,
"Anytime they cross that line, they are exposing themselves," Fox said recently. "It doesn't matter what position. I have concern for all of them; obviously quarterback being one of them."
After going only 10-for-21 passing against the Raiders, there is still some concern with Tebow's ability to throw the ball. But the quarterback, getting ready to make his seventh NFL start when Denver travels to Kansas City, points to his 26-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Royal as evidence he's building a rapport with his wide receivers.
"It was just knowing what he was going to do and being around him," Tebow said. "I know that doesn't make sense, but just seeing and knowing when he got into the linebacker he started working away. I just kind of anticipated it and it was hard for that guy to keep up with him. He scored on it. Huge play for us."
It's a sentiment Royal seems to agree with.
"Every day, every week of practice you get more used to it and more familiar with him," Royal said. "The chemistry is building, and you just know to stay alive with each play."
If Denver is to have any chance of beating the 4-4 Chiefs in a pivotal AFC West matchup, that chemistry in the passing game needs to become Tebow's best friend…although it won't hurt if he can deke Kansas City's defenders on the read option too.
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