The Denver Broncos have adjusted their offense to maximize the strengths of quarterback Tim Tebow (i.e., running the ball) and to minimize his weaknesses (i.e., throwing the ball). But running the ball creates an enhanced injury risk, which is why few NFL teams implement an offense premised on the quarterback running the ball.
Tebow isn’t worried about the risk of injury, even though he emerged from Sunday’s win over the Raiders with a lip so busted that it appeared he was sprouting a second head.
“Those plays weren’t necessarily ones [where] you take big hits,” Tebow said. “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.”
Baloney. Quarterbacks have special protections in the pocket. They can’t be hit high, they can’t be hit low, and they can’t be struck anywhere with a defensive player’s helmet. When a quarterback becomes a runner, he invites every form and fashion of physical abuse.
Running quarterbacks tend to get hurt more when they’re, you know, running. Last year, Mike Vick broke ribs diving forward with the ball. Vince Young, while playing for the Titans, suffered several leg injuries by taking hits while running. Daunte Culpepper sustained the torn knee ligament Trifecta while acting like an oversized tailback.
Tailoring the offense to Tebow’s strengths creates a separate problem. Since they have only one guy who can do what Tebow does, an injury to Tebow will require the team to adjust on the fly to its pre-Tebow offense. The later into the season an injury happens, the more remote those first-team practice reps will be.
And if Tebow is going to be hit by grown men on a repeated basis, he’ll eventually be hurt. It’s already happened, back in the 2010 preseason, when he suffered a rib injury while running into the end zone. If he keeps running the ball, it eventually will happen again.
If the Broncos intend to continue with this offensive approach over the long haul, it’ll be important to acquire at least one more quarterback who can do what Tebow does.