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The "prevent" defense. (and Tebow comebacks)


Larry

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Was watching a bit of SportsCenter, a day or so ago. And they had various people opinionating on The Latest Tebow Comeback.

And they all agreed that the reason why Tebow seems to stink for 55 minutes, and then turn into a miracle worker in the last 5 minutes, was because in the last 5 minutes, the opposing team's defense changes. They drop back, they keep things in front of them, they cover the sidelines but leave the middle open (because they want to keep the clock running).

And as I was hearing these "experts" make this claim, I was reflecting on the no doubt hundreds of times, here on ES, that I've read similar comments from Skins fans, going back for what seems like decades.

After all, I suspect that all of us remember numerous occasions, screaming at our TVs/computers, because the Skins had a lead, then they started "playing not to lose", and allowed the opposing team to complete 5, 15 yard, passes in a row, and rise from the grave.

I'm wondering: Will this string of Tebow comebacks maybe cause some D coordinators to abandon this mindset in which a defense which, in the case of Tebow's latest, has held the Broncos to zero points for 55 minutes, decides that we need to change now?

Or, is it possible that all of those people who actually have that job, actually know what they're doing? That the explanation for all the comebacks we've seen over the years isn't because D coordinators are idiots?

Maybe there's some other reason for comebacks. Maybe the reason for the change isn't that the defense changed. Maybe it's something else. Like, say, the offense becoming desperate. Maybe some people respond to pressure better than others, or something.

After all, I think we all agree that some teams are a lot better at coming from behind, than others are. Maybe the reason for the comebacks isn't the defense.

What got me started on this topic was analysis of Tebow and comebacks. But I'm thinking more of this as a discussion about comebacks, in general. End of game strategy. And the "prevent" defense.

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I think it also has to do with the fact the offensive play calling changes when they are down with about 5 minutes left.

There are a lot of 4 and 5 wide shotgun sets where Tebow can drop back "read" (he is still just adequate at this) the defense and then play backyard football when the play breaks down (see: Roethlisberger).

Outside of the Oakland game and for isolated plays in other games, the option running game has been powerful.. But the strength of all these comebacks has been spread passing where Tebow can make something happen if the play breaks down.

--- EDIT ---

However I also won't discount the fact that he is doing it against prevent defense. Would love to see this style of offense be run in an isolated drive in the middle of a game against a regular defense to see how it works.

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Yeah, part of me has to feel that, if it was a simple case of "prevent defense sucks", then everybody would be leading 4th quarter comebacks.

But they don't. It's some teams that seem to be a lot better at it than others.

(I also think that, in the case of Tebow, we need to credit the fact that he's doing this after his team has been pounding the football for 55 minutes, too.)

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Every Tim Tebow completion I've seen has looked the same.

1) Tebow takes the snap

2) Tebow can't find anyone open

3) Tebow runs around for 8 seconds and still can't find anyone open

4) The defensive backs stop covering receivers

5) Tebow completes a pass to a wide open receiver for a 30 yard gain

It's stunning that nobody has been able to stop it yet.

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Tebow isn't any different in the 4th quarter as he was in the beginning of the game. Prevent defense is a style of defense employed by all DC's that think they have a safe lead only to find out that it doesn't work. Then it is too late. Yes the Denver offense changes their style a little but so does the defense. Why? So what Tebow is scrambling around in the backfield. Cover your guy and let the guy responsible for Tebow to get him. Which gets you down the filed quicker? Tebow throwing the ball to a WR for 30 yards or Tebow running around wasting time to find an open WR but instead runs for 5 or 6 yards to keep the drive going? Don't stop what you were doing because the odds say it works because it doesn't. It drove me crazy when Williams and Blatche employed it.

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I have seen the skins lose many game because of the prevent defense. And living here in denver all you here on sunday is the tebow chant. If vick cant do it how the hell is tebow doing it. The broncos did beat the jets. Other than them broncos have not beat a team firing on all cylinders. Greenbay is the only team they have played this year that is doing well. They have New England next week and than Buffalo. Give it two weeks.

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Well, if you watched SNF, Rodney Harrison and Tony Dungy explained it very clearly that, in the Bear game at least, the defensive calls late in the game were baffling and ill advised. Pulling a Cover 3 defense out of thin air when they're not a Cover 3 team. It was right there on the video tape. Deeper analysis wasn't necessary.

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Well, if you watched SNF, Rodney Harrison and Tony Dungy explained it very clearly that, in the Bear game at least, the defensive calls late in the game were baffling and ill advised. Pulling a Cover 3 defense out of thin air when they're not a Cover 3 team. It was right there on the video tape. Deeper analysis wasn't necessary.

The Bears offensive calls in the 4th quarter were also a joke. They spent the entire quarter trying to run down the clock.

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When it comes to Tebow, I think it's a case of defensive coordinators starting to out think themselves. I think Jim Mora, Jr. said that once, that coaches outthink themselves all the time. You get to the dance one way, and then in the last few minutes, you start over thinking and going "what should I do now" and start doing things you didn't do early just because your not thinking clearly.

Tebow may have made some comebacks against prevent, but then you have a team like the Jets, who sent a Cover 0 blitz at him in the red zone and lost contain.

I remember in the 49ers game, people saying that the only reason Beck actually managed to lead a touchdown drive is because the defense played prevent. Even though Beck is horrible, that wasn't really the case; I remember two or three plays on that drive when they blitzed 5 or 6 guys. When someone sucks for that long and then all the sudden they get **** moving, it's easy to say "prevent defense", but I think that's rarely the case unless you have a really substantial lead.

It's easy to say he's doing it against a prevent defense, but from what I can remember seeing him do, I don't think any defensive coordinator is playing it safe, necessarily. I bet if you went back and looked, you'd see DC's throwing lots of different things at Tebow in those final moments.

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I put some stats together, and thought I would share. Don’t know what I was really going for just wanted to see what tebow was up against. Below shows the team standing before the game. QB and if the broncos won or lost. The current standing helps you see where the team was headed and a little something about the team around the time of the game.

Broncos 8 and 5

Team Broncos Played QB/result Current Standings

Raiders 0 and 0 Orton Loss 7 and 6 Jason Campbell’s best start to season. Injured his knee, and now out for season in fifth week

Bengals 1 and 0 Orton Win 7 and 6 Bengals starting a Rookie QB. Dalton

Packer 2 and 0 Orton Loss 13 and 0 No need to explain

Chargers 3 and 1 Tebow Loss 6 and 7 Started well

Miami 0 and 5 Tebow Win 4 and 9 Miami ended the Saprano’s Season

Lions 7 and 2 Tebow Loss 8 and 5 Suh’s stomp show has been canceled. Stafford is made of tissue, but doing well

Raiders 4 and 3 Tebow Win 7 and 6 Raiders pull palmer off the couch

Chiefs 4 and 4 Tebow Win 5 and 8 Chiefs just fire there coach.

Jets 5 and 4 Tebow Win 8 and 5 Broncos got dirty sanchez. Good D though

Chargers 4 and 6 Tebow Win 6 and 7 Charger always start bad or end bad. Last two games have improved

Vikings 2 and 9 Tebow Win 2 and 11 Vikings have just been bad.

Bears 7 and 6 Tebow Win 7 and 6 Bears season is on a skid. Culter and forte out

Total 39 And 40

I see in the stats that Tebow has played against some middle of the field teams and also some good ones(two). He didn’t fare well against good teams, but never stopped to surprise people. I know most people are 50/50. I am on the side for him to fail. If you are for him to succeed, What do you see?

Posting it changed formating:dallasuck

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Defensive Coordinators run the Prevent Defense because statistically, it usually works. Many fans have an overly negative reaction to it for two reasons:

1. Emotionally, it's hard to watch teams suddenly start completing passes and scoring points, and it's not as noticable that these things are being traded for time.

2. Selection bias kicks in, and people tend to remember the relatively few times it doesn't work, vs. the many that it does (even if it ain't pretty, see point #1).

The John Beck effect mentioned earlier is a great example. Yes, the Redskins scored some points and completed some passes, but did they win?

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Yea it's always made me think. Would it be more effective to just blitz 7 or 8 when the desperate team goes 4 wide? Football logic suggest there's less blockers. I guess you've left a guy wide open for a quick slant, but now you're forcing the QB to make that throw quick, and if that QB is Tebow, I like my odds that he misses. Maybe don't show the blitz, maybe have the CB on the slot guy just go to the QB past the guy your OLB pulled. There will be far less time to play backyard football if there's multiple guys chasing the QB.

Or just simply keep doing what you were doing. it's not like the other team wasn't thinking about passing a lot in the 3rd quarter. I'm no D coach, but if I were, I wouldn't want a lot of 'prevent' or cushions. I'd rather MY players dictate the play, not wait to see where the WRs are going to run. With enough time, any WR can get open. Why wait. Get to the QB, end the game on your terms.

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The offensive play calling also changes reflecting in the immediate needed change. The offense in the NFL has a strict advantage over the defense in virtually all aspects. From penalties, to possession. Offense is meant to score in the NFL. It runs the leagues it consumes the gambling aspect of the sport. This is how it's made. You have to play a less aggressive defense when it comes down to this time due to the aggressiveness of the offense. All it takes is one play.

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I'm not a Tebow fan. But, he's one of those guys who you can't bet against. Ask Vegas how they've done on Broncos games since Tebow took office.:)

I see a gimmick style of play that will ultimately fail. I think once the league gets enough film on him, it will be over. I'm not saying that he can't win some games, but I don't think he will get Denver where they want to go.

I personally am praying that they don't make the playoffs, because ESPN has turned into Tebow TV already. Nauseating.

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Yea it's always made me think. Would it be more effective to just blitz 7 or 8 when the desperate team goes 4 wide? Football logic suggest there's less blockers. I guess you've left a guy wide open for a quick slant, but now you're forcing the QB to make that throw quick, and if that QB is Tebow, I like my odds that he misses. Maybe don't show the blitz, maybe have the CB on the slot guy just go to the QB past the guy your OLB pulled. There will be far less time to play backyard football if there's multiple guys chasing the QB.

Or just simply keep doing what you were doing. it's not like the other team wasn't thinking about passing a lot in the 3rd quarter. I'm no D coach, but if I were, I wouldn't want a lot of 'prevent' or cushions. I'd rather MY players dictate the play, not wait to see where the WRs are going to run. With enough time, any WR can get open. Why wait. Get to the QB, end the game on your terms.

Well, this year, 3-4 of our losses came to some extent because we did blitz in such situations.

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Well, this year, 3-4 of our losses came to some extent because we did blitz in such situations.

And that takes us back to the Jets. The Jets weren't being passive, exactly, on that last drive. They ran the ball right at the heart of the Jets D. On Tebow's TD run, they went cover 0 blitz; we all know and love/hate it. Three men in man coverage, everyone else blitzing. Tebow recognized it and was going to run the ball anyway. Eric Smith blitz, lost contain, Tebow ran around him, end zone, touchdown.

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Every Tim Tebow completion I've seen has looked the same.

1) Tebow takes the snap

2) Tebow can't find anyone open

3) Tebow runs around for 8 seconds and still can't find anyone open

4) The defensive backs stop covering receivers

5) Tebow completes a pass to a wide open receiver for a 30 yard gain

It's stunning that nobody has been able to stop it yet.

We do love our hyperbole.

But, you realize that the ability to extend the play, like you describe above, is a rare game changing skill that few QBs in the NFL have?

Its not really that 'stunning' because the ability to extend a play has always been hard to defend.

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yeah, part of me has to feel that, if it was a simple case of "prevent defense sucks", then everybody would be leading 4th quarter comebacks.

But they don't. It's some teams that seem to be a lot better at it than others.

(i also think that, in the case of tebow, we need to credit the fact that he's doing this after his team has been pounding the football for 55 minutes, too.)

yeah it pretty much does suck, the reason only a few teams excel on offense during it is because there isnt that many qb's out there running with the ball, you have a wide open field to run during the prevent. And running qbs take advantage of that,,,

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I havent seen defenses as aggressive with a lead late, as I have in the past few years. Heck even we have thrown out a few blitzes when 10 years ago, it was prevent win across the league weekly.

I believe it was the Patriots that I first saw refusing to sit on a lead, on both sides of the ball.

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maybe they use the first 55 min of the game to work on molding him into an nfl qb, and when that doesnt work, they let him be himself for the last 5. bottomline, hes a winner. let him be who he is and if he fails, he fails. look at vick. everybody wanted to morph him into a pocket passer. he makes plays with his feet, so let him run. you dont always need the prototypical qb with perfect mechanics, perfect footwork, and perfect technique.

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