People are clamoring for Tebow Time in New York, as Tim Tebow continues to create publicity for his 2-3 New York Jets. This time the publicity is criticism for the Jets coaching staff, specifically criticisms for offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and Coach Rex Ryan’s utilization of Tim Tebow. Sparano is the creator of the infamous wildcat offense, and as the offensive coordinator for the Jets, it was expected Tebow would thrive in Sparano’s offense. The Jets have done anything but thrive, Mark Sanchez has further regressed in his 4th year, Tebow has yet to score a touchdown, their leading WR Santonio Holmes is out for the season with a Lisfranc injury, and they don’t have a running back averaging more than four yards per carry. Many are using the San Francisco 49ers rushing attack, and their innovative usage of Colin Kaepernick as ammo in their attack on the Jets coaching staff.
The San Francisco 49ers do a number of things with their backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and on the surface, it resembles what the Jets are trying to do with Tebow. When you look deeper, there are a number of things the 49ers do differently that maximize Kaepernick’s success.
1) Kaepernick is a quarterback
Colin Kaepernick can really throw the ball. Although Tebow and Kaepernick only have one completion each, Kaepernick has shown his ability to stretch the field with his arm. Kaepernick has thrown one deep ball to Randy Moss that was incomplete, and another to Vernon Davis that resulted in an offensive holding call. These small examples have demonstrated Kaepernick’s huge arm, and defenses have to take note, keeping at least one safety deep. Tebow offers no such luxury, his arm strength is average and his accuracy, especially on deep balls, is not something worrying defenses. So whenever Tebow comes on the field and Sanchez comes off, both safeties come down into the box, and it results in short gains or losses on runs.
2) The 49ers scheme is better
The 49ers use Kaepernick in a versatile shotgun triple option package resembling some college offenses. The wildcat is almost Tebow's only opportunity. It may seem a minute difference, but the Wildcat is a pure rushing scheme, with passes employed almost as trick plays. The triple option allows for multiple running options similar to the wildcat, but has the capability to use the pass on any play as well. The 49ers have also shown Kaepernick under center and in a Pistol offense. The versatility in which the 49ers use Kaepernick may be the secret to his success.
3) Superior talent
Injuries and underdeveloped players hurt anything the Jets try to do on offense. Shonn Greene is not producing as the Jets had hoped, Holmes is out now, and the Jets are looking for anyone to make a play. The 49ers have so many playmakers, that their first two picks in the 2011 draft don’t even suit up on game days. San Francisco has amazing depth both in the backfield, and in the receiving corps. This has lent itself to a ferocious offense, which allows fresh bodies to come in and make plays. Tebow is one of the few playmakers on the Jets, and defenses focus on him the minute he comes on the field. The 49ers multitude of playmakers forces a defense to stay honest when Kaepernick comes in.
4) Using Kaepernick in junk time
Late in games against the Bills and Jets, the 49ers subbed in Kaepernick full time to get experience. There is absolutely no substitute for experience. In similar situations this season the Jets have left Mark Sanchez in the game, almost obstinately ignoring the pleas for Tebow resonating from their fans. If the Jets continue to play their starters in junk time, it could cause even more injuries to starters, and further unrest in the fan base.
Tim Tebow leads the Jets in yards per carry with 4.1, he is one of the few weapons they have in their offense. There is no easy path to fixing the Jets, but if New York wants Tebow to succeed, they may need to adopt a San Francisco state of mind.