Friday, November 18, 2011

Wild Horses Can't Be Tamed: Tim Tebow and the Broncos should not be underestimated

Something has to be done about this Tim Tebow problem. For all the numbers he is collecting, nothing seems to add up. His stats seem to contradict one another, but when the game is over Broncos fans leave cheering heartily and believing more and more in an enigma of a quarterback. But it remains to be seen if he can complete the turnaround in Denver from the bottom of the food chain to a playoff contender.

In six games played this season, Tebow has as many completed passes (56) as he does rushing attempts. He won a game in which he completed 2-of-8 passes for 69 yards. The only game he has lost this year was the one in which he completed his most passes (18) for the most yards (172). He has yet to have a game where he completed 50% of his passes, yet is the proud owner of a 4-1 record and is the pride of a Broncos franchise that has gone from “Suck for Luck” to potentially tied for first in the AFC West if Oakland loses to the Vikings on Sunday. This would suggest that Tebow is a poor quarterback who has gotten incredibly lucky, but the man has still thrown seven touchdowns to one interception and run for three touchdowns, including Thursday’s game-winner, while fumbling twice this season.

The Broncos’ ugly wins seem to have given opposing teams a false sense of security. The Broncos have only scored more than 20 points once under Tebow, a game in which Willis McGahee and Tebow combined to run 33 times for 281 yards, averaging 8.5 yards per carry. In Denver’s four other games under Tebow, they scratched out an overtime win over pitiful Miami; were blown out by Detroit; and grabbed single-score wins over Kansas City and the Jets. All these games suggest that Denver is not built for a shootout, but in a conventional game, they can keep the score low and simply grind out a win, a la the Princeton offense in college basketball, but with more option runs. The question is whether teams can continue to underestimate the Broncos, the ultimate trap-game team who has set up their season to resemble one we have seen before in Miami.

Simply lining up Tebow and letting him run the option has become 2011’s version of the wildcat offense. Former Saratogian sports staffer and current Amsterdam Recorder reporter Michael Kelly pointed out that since the Broncos looked like a pushover when Tebow took over, no team has or maybe will change their overall defensive game plan for one possibly mediocre. They will more than likely continue to play to their own well-practiced strengths and designs and hope that it is good enough to overpower what appears to be a weak offense. A failure to adapt to a unique offense is what made Miami’s wildcat so successful, and since the Broncos changed their style so late in the year, there may not be enough time left for opponents to figure them out.
Lost in all this is Denver’s defense, which has kept the Broncos in almost every scrappy Tebow-led game, only giving up more than 20 points twice, to the Lions and Raiders, and contributing the interception return for a touchdown by Andre Goodman that kept the team in the game Thursday night.

If Denver cannot get into a shootout, their defense will be the basis of their success for the rest of their season. They appear to be catching San Diego next week at the right time, and Chicago and New England are the only other teams remaining on Denver’s schedule that look like they have a chance at putting up a substantial number of points on the Broncos early. 

The AFC West will likely come down to the wire, and without a conventional horse in the race, perhaps I can bet on a Bronco.

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