Zone Defense Is Answer To Stopping Tim Tebow

By Tony Piraro

The Chicago Bears had Tim Tebow defeated Sunday, but they derailed from their gameplan with four minutes left in the game. Many teams have gone down to defeat at the hands of Tim Tebow, and none have come away with an idea of how he beat them. The Chicago Bears had the right idea, but outsmarted themselves in the fourth quarter, which is also known as Tebow-Time.

Sure, Tebow has made fourth quarter comebacks on the Broncos final drive in nearly every game he has started this season. Every team has had a breakdown that allows Tebow and his teammates to overcome adversity and win. Nevertheless, there was a method to all the Tebow-madness in his first six wins…it’s called man-to-man defense.

For three and half quarters the Bears owned Tim Tebow with their Cover-2 defense. In fact, they forced the only other interception thrown by Tebow outside his Detroit Lions massacre loss. Chicago’s zone defense had Tebow baffled because it played to his weaknesses.

All six of the teams that Tebow has defeated this year play a man defense. He can beat a man defense because he is looking for mismatches. Tebow will thread the needle and find Eric Decker or Demaryius Thomas in the back of the endzone at least once a week, for a score that is pivotal to the games’ outcome. Those receivers are not finding holes in the coverage, they are just beating their man off the ball after the snap or get loose when Tebow scrambles.

When a team like Chicago plays a zone defense, they force Tebow to make throws into the coverage or dump it off to a running back for minimal gain. Tebow doesn’t have a strong enough arm to place balls to receivers inside the zone without a defender coming over and knocking it away. The zone sits back and waits for Tim to throw the ball into their area, which is not his strength.

Peyton Manning and Drew Brees can pick apart zone defenses because they have quick releases, are accurate and have above-average arms. Tim Tebow does not posses any of those three skills I just described of top quarterbacks in the league. Therefore, how did he beat the Bears? It is easy, the Bears as they always have done, switched to a soft zone or prevent defense at the end of the game. This enabled Tebow to dink and dunk against the Bears stout defense, all the way down the field without hesitation.

When teams play man defense against Tebow, he will eventually beat them in the game. He just needs one big play to hit. However, when Tebow plays against a zone defense, he is at the mercy of that defense. Sunday, the Bears had the quarterback right where they wanted him and they let him off the hook like Dennis Green once said. Maybe the next team Tebow plays won’t be so stupid. Tebow can be beaten, but teams are now starting to fear that comeback gene he has begun to exhibit on a weekly basis. It will always loom in the back of defensive players minds now that he has done it with some regularity.

Follow Tony Piraro on Twitter @TonyPiraro

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