How the Patriots can stop Tim Tebow

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The Patriots will try to slow down Tim Tebow again on Saturday night.The Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday discovered that stacking the box against Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos was not enough to stop the Legend of Tebow. Pressure is what matters.

Pressure from the pass rush bothered Tebow more than any other quarterback in football this season. With that in mind, here is a blueprint for what the New England Patriots can do to make the second-year quarterback uncomfortable this weekend.

Send five or more pass rushers…often

The Patriots actually blitzed at a high rate when they faced Tebow in Week 15. Entering that game the Patriots sent five or more pass rushers on just 22.7 percent of opponent dropbacks. They nearly doubled that mark to 45.2 percent against the Broncos, their second-highest percentage of the season.

Tim Tebow in Regular Season
By Number of Pass Rushers

This had a major impact on the outcome of the game. Tebow posted a QBR of 93.2 against four or fewer pass rushers and a 47.5 QBR against five or more that week against the Patriots. The Patriots also sent added pressure even more often when the Broncos tried to rally during the second half.

His performance in Week 15 mirrored his typical drop-off in production when facing different defensive pass rushes. During the regular season, his completion percentage and yards per attempt when facing extra rushers were both nearly half of what it was when facing standard pressure.

The story remained the same Sunday against the Steelers. Tebow torched Pittsburgh’s secondary when he faced standard pressure, completing 5-of-11 passes for 218 yards with two touchdowns. Against added pressure, Tebow was effective but not explosive, going 5-of-10 for 98 yards with just one play of 30-or-more yards.

Get Tebow outside the pocket

As inaccurate as he has been all year, Tebow is a much better pocket passer than when he takes off downfield. His biggest struggles this season have come when he has to improvise and throw on the run.

Tim TebowTebowWhen throwing outside the pocket, Tebow’s completion percentage dropped 13 points while his yards per attempt fell by almost two yards. He tossed nearly four times as many touchdowns as interceptions when inside the pocket, but his touchdown-to-interception ratio outside the pocket was a mediocre one-to-one.

In Week 15 the Patriots flushed Tebow outside the pocket on nine dropbacks. No other Patriots opponent was forced outside the pocket more than five times in a single week. Tebow completed only 2-of-8 passes for 42 yards and took a sack outside the pocket against New England.

Sending extra pass rushers at Tebow should force him to throw outside the pocket and on the run more often. The concepts may be simple but the importance should not be understated given his season-long performance trends.