This week’s Thursday night showcase game will draw as much national attention as NFL Network could have possibly hoped for with a 4-5 team hosting a 5-4 team. That’s because Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos will attempt to beat Rex Ryan’s New York Jets defense with an unconventional, option-based, run-heavy attack.
Some of the Ravens said Thursday that they plan on taking a break in their preparation to take in Tebowmania.
“I’m going to watch him,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said. “They’ve got [former Ravens back Willis] McGahee, too. They’re good. I like Tebow. He’s an up-and-coming talent. A lot of people give him hell, but I like Tebow.”
Tebow, the second-year quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner out of Florida, completed just two passes last weekend as the Broncos beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 17-10. One of those was a 56-yard TD to Eric Decker. Six different players carried the ball for the Broncos as they rushed for 244 yards on 55 carries.
With Tebow at quarterback and the Broncos using a read-option offense that works in the NCAAs but hasn’t in the NFL, Denver is 3-1. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis doesn’t see the Broncos sustaining that success.
"Yeah, if you have Michael Vick and, I don't know, Chris Johnson at running back," Revis told reporters this week. "Yeah, it can work. Those are probably the two fastest guys that can probably get out on the edge on you."
Ravens running back Anthony Allen, who thrived in Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense at Georgia Tech, said it is a “good thing seeing it come to the league and work here,” though he agreed with Revis’ assessment.
“If you have the right execution and everyone is doing the right things, the option can work and be effective,” the rookie running back said. “But they’re going to have to add some stuff in there or make that a package that they bring out every now and then. Teams in the NFL, they’ll scheme you up. They’ll be ready for you.”
Allen said that it is “crazy” that the Broncos won last weekend with Tebow attempting just eight passes, but he said it was refreshing that Denver coach John Fox has built his offense around Tebow’s talents instead of forcing him into an ill-suited passing offense. Tebow is second among quarterbacks with 320 rushing yards.
Tebow impressed Michael Oher back in their SEC days when Oher was at Mississippi and was a Gator.
“He’s a great player,” the Ravens offensive tackle said. “I knocked him off in the swamp my senior year. He’s doing great and it’s great to see him having success, but I did knock him off in my senior year. In the swamp.”
Oher added that one time, in the swamp, he knocked Tebow off. (He really wanted to get that point across.)
Will the read-option offense and a heavy dose of the run work for the Broncos? We’ll find out soon enough. But the Ravens players I spoke with Thursday will be watching Tebowmania run wild from afar when they can.
“They made him the starter and they built the offense around him,” Allen said. “And they’re making it happen.”