It’s the convicts versus the Christian on Thursday night as the bad boy Jets get ready to stop the cherubic Tim Tebow.
Love him or hate him, the Broncos quarterback is a challenge. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Tebow is built like few other quarterbacks — a mobile quarterback who can shrug off would-be tacklers and make plays with his feet.
Taking Tebow down is the top goal of the Jets defense.
“At the end of the day, you have to bring him down. A guy like him is so good at breaking tackles, it is hats to the football,” starting defensive end Aaron Maybin said. “You can’t bring him down with one tackler; you need to get on him. He’s that strong, he’s a big guy you have to wrap him up. You need to get hats to him.”
In the win over the Chiefs, Tebow threw the ball eight times, but had nine runs out of the Broncos’ read-option offense. The challenge of Tebow is unlike any quarterback in the league, however, in that while he can throw somewhat effectively, he’s almost impossible to bring down. Maybin likened him to a fullback in build.
But unlike a fullback, Tebow can run the ball and pull-up to make a pass, giving him the ability to hurt defenses who key-in on his running ability too much.
“You have to play assignment based football because you can’t get off your assignment. If you pull up as a linebacker thinking he’s going to do one thing, he can hurt you the other way,” linebacker Jamaal Westerman said. “It’s a challenge that way.”
The ability for him to improvise in the pocket means that game film get tossed out the window come the first whistle of Thursday night. What you see is maybe not what you get.
“I will say this, we don’t really know what they’re going to do because they’ve been really multiple. Sometimes they spread them out; they’ll go empty and then run the ball with the quarterback,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “So no matter what you see, you’ll probably start by saying it’s probably a run, and then we’ll defend the pass after it. But you’re looking at formations or personnel groupings that tell you it’s going to be a pass, it’s not with this group. So that’s a little different, but you better be sound and obviously assume he’s running with it.”
But it’s not as simple as just hitting Tebow and playing assignments. The most effective way in the past to surely bring down a quarterback like Tebow who is so big and strong was for a tackler to drive his helmet square into the player’s numbers.
Do that now, and it will be a costly penalty.
“You have to tackle with fundamentals and that’s with your shoulder, making sure you’re not leading with the crown of the helmet,” defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson said. “Then you make sure you wrap him up because a guy like a Tebow’s not going down easily.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.