How to Set Your Tebows Up for Success

Posted 11.18.2011

He did it again. On Thursday night, down 13 to 10 against the NY Jets, Tim Tebow quarterbacked the Denver Broncos to a win in the last five minutes of the game.  He’s done that so often this season that fans have named the closing minutes of the game Tebow Time. The highlight of the most recent episode came when, on third and four with about a minute left in the game, Tebow picked up on a Jets blitz and ran the ball around the left side and into the end zone for the game winning touchdown.

He’s having a pretty good season for a guy who many thought might be put on waivers a few months ago. Tebow was so far down the Broncos depth chart that for awhile he wasn’t even their third strong quarterback.  While he had led Florida to national championships when he was in college and won the Hesiman trophy, most of the experts thought that Tebow’s playing style was not cut out for the NFL.  Those experts included the new Denver head coach, Jon Fox, and their legendary head of football operations, John Elway. Both of them had a lot of the “he’s a fine young man” sort of praise for Tebow but didn’t express a lot of confidence in his abilities.  Tebow kept working in practice, riding the bench in games and the Broncos started 1 and 4.  With no better options, Fox decided to play Tebow five weeks ago and now the team is 5 and 5 on the season.

Week by week, Fox and his staff have made adjustments in the game plan to take advantage of Tebow’s strengths. You have to give them credit for that because a lot of coaches wouldn’t. There are a few things that executives and managers can learn from the Denver coaches about how to leverage the strengths of talented players who don’t fit the mold. Here are three ways to set your own Tebows up for success.

Ignore Conventional Wisdom – The conventional wisdom in the NFL is that no one runs the spread option offense in the NFL; that’s a college offense. Yep, one that Tebow ran better than anyone. Every week, there’s more and more spread option in the Denver offense. They’re 4 and 1 since Tebow took the job. What’s the conventional wisdom in your organization or industry? One way to figure that out is to look for the “we’ve always done it this ways” or the “we don’t do that heres” in your organization and then ask yourself what are we missing out on because of that conventional thinking?

Understand Your Tebow’s Strengths and Keep Adjusting –  Tebow is not a classic NFL passer. He’s a below average passer but he’s a great runner and a fast decision maker who can dump the ball off quickly. He’s also a heck of a leader. His coaches are making adjustments to play to his strengths and compensate for his weaknesses. They’re learning more every week about how to do that. To do the same thing in your organization, you’ll have to commit to paying enough attention to coach your Tebow through the adjustments.

Be Clear About What You’re Really Trying to Accomplish –  Former NFL coach Herm Edwards had a classic line in a press conference following a close loss against a superior team.  Someone asked him if it was a moral victory. His answer was, “No.  We.  Play. To. Win. The.  Game.” Tim Tebow doesn’t win pretty, but he does win games.  It’s a lot of work and can be heartburn inducing to make the changes you need to make to accommodate a Tebow.  Fox and Elway appear to have crossed that bridge. They’re in it to win the game too. When you’re thinking through how to get the most from your own Tebows, don’t forget about what you’re really trying to accomplish. Connect their development with the bigger goal.

OK, two questions. First, for you NFL fans, are you a Tebow lover or Tebow hater and why? Second, for you fans and non fans who have read this far, what lessons do you have to share about getting the most from talent that doesn’t fit the typical mold?