Blog Entry

Tracking Tebow, Week 15: Learning experiences

Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:02 am
We're Tracking Tebow … because it's impossible not to watch. 

By Ryan Wilson

Here's the deal with the new (old)-look Denver Broncos offense: there is virtually no margin for error. The run-heavy, read-option strategy works so well because a) the defense keeps games close, b) the offensive line is playing out of its mind, c) Tim Tebow and Willis McGahee might be the best backs-by-committee in the league, and d) Tebow doesn't turn the ball over.

Heading into Sunday's game against the Patriots he had just two interceptions and three lost fumbles all year. By the time New England left Denver with a 41-23 win, the Broncos had three turnovers -- all in the first half -- and that, coupled with a Tom Brady-led offense capable of capitalizing off said turnovers, proved to be the difference.

Tebow finished 11 of 22 for 194 yard, and added another 93 rushing yards on 12 carries, including two rushing touchdowns. Unlike the Lions game in Week 8 (the last time the Broncos lost, by the way), where Tebow looked thoroughly confused (and, incidentally, a week before the Broncos went all in on read-option football), the second-year quarterback continues to get better. And, really, that's all you can ask of your 24-year-old former first round pick: show improvement from one week to the next and do it while helping the team go 7-2.

But there are also signs that opposing defenses are beginning to get a bead on the offense that made Tebow a Heisman trophy winner in college. The question now, with two games left in the regular season and the Broncos trying to old onto the AFC West lead: Can Tebow's mastery of option football be enough to overcome its potential flaws? It's one thing for an opponent to know how to stop Tebow, it's something else entirely to actually pull it off.

The Patriots defense, among the worst in the league, was able to slow Tebow but they certainly didn't stop him. They were also the beneficiaries of Tom Brady's right arm (and, if we're splitting perfectly coiffed hairs, his legs -- he had a rushing touchdown for the first time all season).

As it stands, the Broncos are 8-6, a game up on the Chiefs and two games up on the Chargers, with two games to go. If they win in Buffalo and at home to Kansas City, they win the division. Otherwise, we'll have to rely on the nerds down at the nerdery to figure out the possible playoff scenarios.

                                                   Play by Play

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


"The core of what New England did was force Tebow to stay in the pocket and throw. Since he still possesses the accuracy of a malfunctioning Scud missile he was relegated to 11 completions and no throwing touchdowns," -'s Mike Freeman.

"Tebow mania, meet Brady Brass, and kindly kneel down and kiss the ring," -'s Michael Silver

"Personally, that's what I took that as. Because of the build-up between Tebowmania vs. Brady, I think he took that personally. And football is a personal game. I don't blame him for taking it personal. It was our job to keep him out of the end zone so he doesn't spike the ball." - Broncos cornerback André Goodman, explaining Brady's Gronkwoskian spike after scoring a touchdown.

"We did have things going pretty well early. We scored on our first three possessions, but then we put the ball on the ground, and that's something you can't do against a great team. You know Brady is going to make his plays. We've got to hang onto the ball. That's my fault, and I'll get that straight. With the turnovers, we were playing from behind a little bit.'' - Tim Tebow

"He's gotten better every week. Six or seven weeks ago people said that he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, but I think he does that. I think he can do that. I don't think that's why we lost the game tonight.'' - Broncos head coach John Fox


This is what makes Tebow Tebow-tastic:

Tim Tebow eludes several Patriots defenders to run for a 9-yard touchdown on the Broncos' first possession of the game.

At the other end of the spectrum, there's this…

Tim Tebow tries to extend the play but fails as the Patriots defense sacks the QB for a 28-yard loss.

For a glimpse at how Tebow has improved, here's a simple passing play from early in the game:

With the running game working so well early, the play-action fake (to #35 Lance Ball in this case) froze the linebackers, creating a window for Tebow to hit favorite target Eric Decker on a post pattern. As soon as the inside linebacker turns his head to drop into coverage, Tebow throws the ball at his left ear, finding Decker in the hole in the zone created by the run fake. He wouldn't have made this throw two months ago. 

"I feel like we've gotten better throwing the ball,'' Tebow said after the game. "We were able to do a lot of what we wanted to early, throwing the ball. We were right in groove, and we were able to do some good things. Then we got behind and were pressing a little bit.''

So how did the Patriots slow Tebow (other than by the "our offense is our best defense" strategy)?:

ESPN's Merril Hoge pointed this out Monday: New England hit Tebow repeatedly and on Tebow's only fumble of the game, which came on an option play (he could either keep it or pitch it wide left to RB Lance Ball), DE Mark Anderson had one job: run straight at Tebow and don't worry about anything else. That singular focus put him in the backfield before Tebow could get any closer to the line of scrimmage. It limited not just his time to make a decision, but his options. Tebow should've kept the ball; instead Anderson knocked it lose. Expect the Bills and Chiefs to do this too.

                                                   Eye on Tebow

Quite possibly the best incompletion in tackle football history. (Getty Images)

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Since: Aug 20, 2010
Posted on: December 20, 2011 7:37 pm

Tracking Tebow, Week 15: Learning experiences

Orton was 12 -21 with the Broncos

Since: Dec 20, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 5:38 pm

Tracking Tebow, Week 15: Learning experiences

Despite the loss Tebow has shown inprovement, but definetly needs to scan the field and make quicker throwing decisions. The Broncos offensive line was not quite as good as the last few weeks, but gave him enough time to throw in most situations. Von Miller and the defensive line rarely put any pressure Brady. That combined with Fox's ultra conservate paly calling and the 3 turnovers help to lose this game. Fox should have gone for it on 4th and 1 with the lead. Should have called more gadget plays like the end around pass that failed. Losing MaGahee early on did not help either. You could tell the PATS really wanted this win to crush the Tebow hype. When was the last time you saw Brady run one in for a touchdown. He was detirmined. I expect the Broncos to bounce back and win the last 2 games and then exit the 2nd round of playoffs. They do not have the pieces just yet to make it their year, but an improving Tebow and shoring up the defense and wide recievers will have them in good postion next year. Hope Fox losses up the play calling and take advantage of his sandlot quaterback.

Since: Oct 26, 2009
Posted on: December 20, 2011 4:19 pm

Tracking Tebow, Week 15: Learning experiences

You forgot to analyze why Tebow didn't take a knee and praise God after losing.  A real Christian would praise God regardless of winning or losing.  Apparently Tebow only praises Jesus after wins.  Is that part of his evolution as quarterback?  Perhaps he should try reading the book of Job.

Since: Oct 26, 2009
Posted on: December 20, 2011 4:17 pm

Tracking Tebow, Week 15: Learning experiences

I keep looking for the "Tracking Andy Dalton" and "Tracking Cam Newton."  Or anyone else for this matter.  This ridiculous spotlight on one player is such a pathetic kiss-a$$ example of why CBS should just shut down their site and let TMZ be the joke of the sports world all by itself.

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: December 20, 2011 2:33 pm

Tracking Tebow, Week 15: Learning experiences

I watched alot of the game.  11/22 for 196 against a defense that routinely gives up 300 yards passing per game is not that good.
"Not open enough"  is a very subjective phrase.  To Brees Rogers Brady "not open enough" is not the same as Tim Tebow "not open enough" and that is where the accuracy questions come in....or maybe confidence but in any case they are throws fans and "experts" expect an NFL QB to make.  He did make some good quality throws too but missed, either intentionally or not, some throws that should have been made.
There have been plenty of sandlot football players that cant make it in the NFL.  Tebow is doing well but there are limitations to his game and quite a few risks healthwise running an option.  With Elway in charge you have to wonder how much leash Tebow will be given if he can't learn to do some of those things better.
Its not like just any backup QB can take over the Tebow gameplan so you have to think of the entire team too.

Since: Aug 23, 2006
Posted on: December 20, 2011 1:53 pm

Tracking Tebow, Week 15: Learning experiences

oosterbaan1989 are you kidding me? granted the media has talked too much about Tebow since he took over. but this comment has been the dumbest ever: "And by the way, given the way that Kyle orton played against green bay, maybe it wasnt quite his fault in Denver but a combination of factors that have since improved" wow

Really? orton finished his career in denver 4-14.  1-4 this year with the exact same team as Tebow, but conditions have improved? you're right they improved when we got rid of his a ss.

Since: Sep 28, 2007
Posted on: December 20, 2011 1:14 pm

Tracking Tebow, Week 15: Learning experiences

Tracking week 15 grade: F. Defying logic and good sense, fails to pen stories on Jim harbaugh's remarkable first season, cam newtons progression, Matt stafford's nfl record four comeback wins from more than 13 points down, drew Brees about to eclipse marino, etc. opting instead for an entire page of giddy, schoolgirl crush homage to someone who is rapidly becoming the most overrated player in sports history. Tebow is decent, but nowhere near deserving of the attention and accolades that include nonsense like "tebow time" which but for playing several horrendous offenses would be termed garbage time. Let the guy make a pro bowl before you annoint him anything. And by the way, given the way that Kyle orton played against green bay, maybe it wasnt quite his fault in Denver but a combination of factors that have since improved providing the real reason they have had a winning streak. Yearning for ratings, cbssports and other sites/networks have approached tebow like a kardashian Coupled with tebow's pastor's asinine, blasphemous assertion that tebow is more deserving than other nfl players because (in his opinion) tebow's faith is stronger, it is easy to understand the anti-tebow-fan-base reaction. I wish the kid all the best but wish everyone else would just shut up until his play actually warrants high praise.

Since: Apr 12, 2007
Posted on: December 20, 2011 1:03 pm

Tracking Tebow, Week 15: Learning experiences

The entire team got beat by the Patriots Sunday, not just Tebow. They win as a team and lost as a team. The difference in this game was the three fumbles in the second quarter. You can't turn the ball over that many times against a good team and win. If they held on to the ball, they might have been able to protect their 17-6 lead.


Since: Aug 23, 2006
Posted on: December 20, 2011 1:01 pm

Tracking Tebow, Week 15: Learning experiences

people like Mike Freeman are funny. its like they're too ignorant to actually watch Tebow throw crisp on time passes so they just keep saying he isnt accurate.  its laughable really.  Against the Pats he had about 3 passess that someone could say werent accurate.  most of the incompletes were either thrown away because he didnt have an open or an open enough man or he just threw it were only his guy had a chance at it and didnt throw it perfectly.  

If you are still so stu pid as to call Tebow inaccurate you should stop watching football. 

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