I want to talk a little about speed. The kind of speed that kills.
No, no, not this kind of speed.
And no, not this kind of speed either....
No, the kind of speed I want to talk about is the speed of our offensive tempo. Remember way back in training camp when we kept on hearing about how every practice, every rep was laser focused on one thing ... SPEED? Remember how under Sparano we were supposed to start running an up tempo offense, the kind of offense New England runs? You know, spot the ball, snap it and go. Don't let the defense substitute their packages. Catch the defense with their best players out, then keep on running plays to exploit your matchups without giving the defense time to substitute back in. Tire the defense out, keep them having to line up and go, no breathers, no breaks, no mercy. THAT kind of speed.
My question is, what the heck happened? Where is that up tempo game? Has anyone seen it? Is it lost and can't find it's way home? What happened? We seem to get the same old substitutions in and out, the same old confusion on plays, the same old let's call a timeout because we don't have the foggiest notion what we're supposed to be running here. So, what happened?
I think there are two answers here. First, injuries happened. Keller goes down, Hill goes down, Holmes goes down. Schilens never really took part in the preseason. The other Hill (Hill2?) knows nothing about our offense. Gates is new, Reuland is new. So, despite the best of intentions, we simply have been unable to execute what was practiced in Camp, because half our guys weren't even at Camp with us when we were practicing. This has severely hampered our efforts to go uptempo and has prevented Sparano from running the kind of offense he wants to run, so I think judgments on the effectiveness of Sparano's offense should be withheld, not just because of the injured players per se, but also because of the devastating effect the injuries have had on our offensive philosophy.
The second answer, in a word, is Tebow. Love him, hate him, meh him, it doesn't matter - no matter your position on Tebow the player, it is undeniable that Tebow the package of necessity slows down the tempo. Sub Tebow in, put in a package of players, get the call right, watch the play clock wind down to near zero. Sub Sanchez back in, sub in his package, get his play call right, watch the play clock wind down. Repeat as desired. No matter how much Tebow may or may not make positive contributions to the offense, the one undeniable negative is that the constant interruptions to the flow of the game and substitution packages slow the tempo to a crawl. This may be one of the reasons we have not seen Tebow in more often.
Ahhh, you say, but Sparano ran the Wildcat all the time in MIA without slowing down the tempo. But herein lies the difference. In Miami Sparano ran the Wildcat with Ronnie Brown, a full time RB who was going to be out there anyway. No need for subbing in and out, no need for special packages. Just snap the ball to Brown instead of the QB and go. Voila, Wildcat AND up tempo offense. In addition, by being able to run the Wildcat with a regular RB, MIA was able to sow real confusion in the defense, as they never knew from one play to the next whether MIA was going Wildcat or regular pro offense.
But Tebow is a different kettle of fish. When Tebow comes in, an entire package substitutes in. And when he goes back out, a new package is subbed back in. Tempo slows to a crawl. And though we have tried to compensate by lining Tebow up as a WR on some plays, still, when Tebow comes in, everybody in the stadium knows the Wildcat is likely. We're telegraphing our intentions in a way that MIA's Wildcat never did.. We seem to sow as much confusion in our own offense as we do in the opposing defense with our Tebow packages. This could be the reason for the otherwise puzzling failure to give Tebow more snaps.
If we truly want to be more like New England and install an up tempo offense, we will first have to get our regulars together and on the same page. But after that is accomplished, I think Sparano has to make a choice. Is it going to be the Tebowcat, or is it going to be speed? Because in the case of our up tempo plans on offense and the need for speed, the Tebowcat kills.