Blog Entry

Tracking Tebow, Week 12: Iron sharpens iron

Posted on: November 29, 2011 10:06 am
Edited on: November 29, 2011 12:00 pm
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We're Tracking Tebow … because it's impossible not to watch. 

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Against the Chargers Sunday, Tim Tebow didn't complete his first pass until 3:54 in the second quarter. By the time the game was over -- nearly five quarters of football -- Tebow had attempted 18 passes, completing nine, for 143 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 67 yards on 22 carries.

In addition to running his record to 5-1 as the Broncos starter this season, Tebow also accomplished another milestone: it was the first time in 2011 that he completed at least 50 percent of his throws. Still, our graphic from last week's Tebow Tracker holds: less passing + more running = greater likelihood of a Denver victory.

By this point, some five weeks into the Tebow era, the critics have been silenced. Back on October 23, when he replaced Kyle Orton as the starter, the thinking was that Tebow would be buried on the depth chart behind Brady Quinn by now. Instead, an outfit that began the season 1-4, is now 6-5 and one game out of the division lead, behind the 7-4 Raiders. More improbable scenarios are hard to fathom but the lesson, at least for now, is Tebow has redefined what it means to win ugly, which is certainly preferable to the alternative reality playing out with Orton under center: losing ugly.

We say "at least for now" because there's always the fear that, despite Tebow's knack for making those around him better, the read-option offense is always a week away from being exploited as a gimmick, 2011's version of the wildcat offense, a strategy with a short shelf-life that should have no bearing on personnel decisions behind the present.

We wrote about the phenomenon last week:

"Comparing the read-option to the wildcat has been a popular meme in recent weeks and there's something to it. The Dolphins began the 2008 season 0-2, busted out the wildcat in Week 3 against the Patriots, and blew them out of the water, 38-13. Miami finished the regular season 11-5 and made the playoffs. The following year, after teams around the league had an offseason to figure out the wildcat, it was obsolete. …

"Based on Broncos executive John Elway's recent comments, not only is the read-option a short-term solution to a problem he inherited from the unspectacular Josh McDaniels era, it's one that probably won't last behind this season. Which means that the rest of the NFL has six weeks or so to figure out a way to slow it down.

"The Jets did it for 55 minutes, but Tebow was able to drive 95 yards for the decisive score. The bigger story from that game: New York's inept offense, which included a national coming out part for Broncos rookie linebacker Von Miller, and more questions about Mark Sanchez's abilities as an NFL quarterback.

"So, no, Tebow isn't the long-term answer in Denver. But he's not supposed to be. The thing is, nobody thought he was the short-term answer, either. As it stands, he's winning 80 percent of his starts. And if the Chargers play Sunday like they have in the previous five games, Tebow's winning percentage will rise to 83."

Since writing that, we've talked in more detail about why exactly Tebowmania may not last beyond 2012. You can listen to the details on the latest Pick-6 Podcast.


The next five weeks of the regular season look like this for the Broncos: at Minnesota, Chicago, New England, at Buffalo, and Kansas City. Can Denver win out and go 11-5? Seems impossible, but is that any more unlikely than Tebow being 5-1? Clearly, we're dealing with forces beyond the football field.


                                                   Play by Play



(Note: Below are the plays -- both running and passing -- involving Tebow. You can view the entire play-by-play breakdown here)




                                                        Quotes



“I said a little prayer when I was down there. … I feel like our honor to Tim is the way we play and the way we support him. - Broncos rookie safety Quinton Carter on Tebowing at midfield after Matt Prater's game-winning kick.

"It's mistake-free football, it's playing great defense and running the ball on the offensive side and really making the plays when they need to be made. I think that's what's happening. - John Elway on Tebow's 9 for 18 performance Sunday.

"I've never seen a human who can will himself to win like that." - Broncos linebacker Von Miller on Tebow.

“We kept him in the pocket for the most part and he only had a couple of runs. On those runs, it was more the defense than what he was doing. But he made some plays. He’s a great football player.” - Chargers safety Eric Weddle.


                                                   Audio-Visual




Matt Prater kicked a 37-yard field goal with 29 seconds left in overtime to lift Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos to a 16-13 victory Sunday over the San Diego Chargers. CBS Sports' Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts have the recap.


Tim Tebow has won three straight games and is 4-1 since becoming the starter in Week 7. CBS Sports' Shannon Sharpe sat down with Tebow, head coach John Fox and Champ Bailey to discuss the Broncos turnaround as well as Tebow's future at QB.

Tebow didn't have many throws against the Chargers, but his second-quarter touchdown pass was both impressive (on his part) and embarrassing (on how the Chargers defense played it). The breakdown of exactly how Decker got so open is below, followed by the video of the play.

Tebow fakes a throw in the flat to Royal, which freezes the defender responsible for Decker (circled in red). Decker, blows past him, the safety is slow providing support (circled in yellow), leaving Tebow a big window to throw through. Nice pass, nice catch, horrible defense. 


Broncos QB Tim Tebow passes deep into the end zone to WR Eric Decker for an 18-yard touchdown, late in the second quarter.


                                                   Eye on Tebow



(Click photos to enlarge)


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