Blog Entry

Tracking Tebow, Week 16: Defenses are catching on

Posted on: December 27, 2011 10:45 am
Edited on: December 27, 2011 10:47 am
We're Tracking Tebow … because it's impossible not to watch. 

By Ryan Wilson

First, the good news: the Broncos control their destiny. At this point in the season, that's all you can ask. Despite dropping their second game in a row in convincing fashion, Denver remains atop the AFC West, and if they beat the Chiefs Sunday, they're division champs, which will earn them the right to face either the Steelers or Ravens in the first round of the playoffs.

For now, though, the Broncos have to fix an offense that has developed a reputation this season with Tim Tebow as its starter of long stretches of ineptitude highlighted by improbable late-game comebacks (one that included a six-game winning streak). Two weeks ago, Denver was 8-5 and coming off an overtime win against the Bears. Now, after getting thoroughly outplayed by the Patriots and the Bills, the questions have returned. Namely: can Tebow be an NFL quarterback and the related: have teams figured out how to stop him and the college offense the Broncos now feature?

Too early to say on the former, but almost certainly yes on the latter.

A week after New England worked to contain Tebow in the pocket and forced him to win the game with his arm, Buffalo perfected the game plan. The Bills usually rushed four, dropped seven into coverage, made sure Tebow didn't break the pocket for long runs, and made him squeeze throws into tight windows, often with disastrous results.

Coming into the game, Tebow had three interceptions. By the time it was over, Tebow had thrown four more, two of the pick-six variety, and he looked flustered all afternoon.

"I think [defensive coordinator Georgge] Edwards did a great job as far as giving us different keys based on what personnel they had in the game and what type of plays they were gonna run," said Bills cornerback Drayton Florence, via the Buffalo News. "When they got in a regular set [two receivers, two backs], it was more traditional runs. When they got in two tight ends, it was more of the option game. So I think our defensive ends did a great job of being aware of that and knowing how they were going to attack us. …

"They just tell Tebow to go out there and run around and make something happen," Florence said. "Early in the game they were running the ball because they didn't have to throw it. He's just using his athletic ability, sort of like Michael Vick was doing early in his career. Just give him one side of the field to read. If it's not there, make something happen and scramble."

Linebacker Kelvin Sheppard added: "We were able to say ... when we're man to man, one of the backers lock the running back and the other one spies the quarterback. mean, it worked to perfection today. They were flushing him, and myself or Nick would go and wrap and contain. It was just a good day all-around."

So now the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments begin in earnest. Which Tebow will show up in Week 17, and God willing, the playoffs? No idea.

But don't mistake the Bills' game plan for Tebow reverting to the form that had him embarrassed by the Lions back in October. He continues to improve, even if incrementally. The problem: as defenses become more comfortable recognizing and attacking the Broncos' option scheme, Denver will need to find ways to adapt. And that will mean using Tebow in more conventional ways. Can they (he) do it? Well, we'll find out, won't we.

                                                   Play by Play

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


"First and foremost, I want to thank my lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Isn't it great that no matter what, win or lose, we have a chance to celebrate my lord and savior's birth tomorrow. That's pretty cool. It's something I'm very excited about, celebrating Christmas. It's going to be a lot of fun." - Tebow's opening remarks during his post-game press conference.

"We knew if we could make (Tebow) one dimensional by stopping the run, there was no way we were going to allow him to come out and throw the ball and beat us with his arm." - Bills safety George Wilson

"“We knew [facing Kyle Orton] was a possibility. So, here it is. We have to go out there and play well. It was best for the team, bottom line. We made that decision knowing this was a possibility. Now we have to do it.” - Broncos executive VP John Elway last Saturday


Moving pictures evidence that the Bills confused Tebow all day.

Broncos QB Tim Tebow throws four interceptions in a 40-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Frame-by-frame breakdown of Tebow's first interception. (In case it's not clear, you'll have to click on the individual images to get the larger view.)

Tebow's first interception of the game came late in the third quarter with the Broncos trailing 23-14. The Bills showed a single high safety (frame 1) pre-snap. After the snap, they dropped seven in coverage and rushed four. It was a five-receiver route. At the top of Tebow's drop, the three deep receivers were all covered (frame 2). Tebow rolled right to avoid the rush and with no running lanes due to good containment (frame 3), he forced a pass 25 yards downfield into triple-coverage (frame 4).

                                                   Eye on Tebow

Buffalo Bills' Chris Kelsay (90) and Arthur Moats (52) sack Denver Broncos' Tim Tebow (15) during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/David Duprey)

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Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: December 28, 2011 11:02 am

Tracking Tebow, Week 16: Defenses are catching on

Another thing to point out - Tim Tebow has been given a tremendous amount of time to pass by the blocking of his linemen.  On most plays he looks confused, and quite a few of the sacks on him were because Tebow held on to the ball too long.  This guy just does not know his reads, and whatever Timmy's worshippers have to say, that is not something a young QB just learns with time.  Cam Newton and Andy Dalton, among many other rookie QBs in NFL history, have quickly picked up their reads.  Failed QBs are the ones that just don't get it.  Tebowners won't admit it, but their hero just is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: December 28, 2011 10:54 am

Tracking Tebow, Week 16: Defenses are catching on

Most everyone with any football acumen knew that with a little time and tape NFL defensive co-ordinators would figure out how to defend the Broncos college style option gimmick offense.  Now that they have, Tim Tebow is going to be forced to throw, and hisstunning lack of accuracy combined with a glaring inability to read defenses will be this vastly overrated player's demise.  The win streak and unlikely wins this season by the Broncos have made it so that Tebow's rabid fan base will virtually force the Broncos to start this guy one more season, but don't count on Tim Tebow's skill set to magically develop during the offseason.  This Broncos fan's dream would be to see the Bronco front office somehow find a way to trade Tebow to Jacksonville or Mudville where he belongs in exchange for some valuable draft picks.  The back to back pick 6s this past Saturday did not help Tebow's stock rise in the NFL.  It did add to the joke around the league factor!

Since: Dec 18, 2006
Posted on: December 28, 2011 10:51 am

Tracking Tebow, Week 16: Defenses are catching on

TT will be great.  There are many folks that do not like his notariety because he is not a proto typical QBand professes his faith.   For you people that think he should convert to another position, forget it. For those that think the Bronco's should get another QB for competition, that's fair, but if you get another Orton, you better get better receivers and O-line.  Those of you saying the defense was great are deluding yourselves.  Don't get me wrong they aren't bad, but they aren't great either. If you don't get pressure with the d-line, opposing qb's can find a receiver (if they have good ones) and they aren't bad at stopping the run but they aren't great either. Look out this week though, because KC's secondary is pretty darn good.  I hope the Broncos win but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

Since: May 2, 2010
Posted on: December 28, 2011 6:13 am

Tracking Tebow, Week 16: Defenses are catching on

Runstopper, take a chill pill man. It's referring to the ultimate direction you will end up in. Controlling of your own destination.
Having control of your own destiny means just that. You get a say in what happens rather than having it predetermined for you by circumstances out of your control. Just because it's destiny doesn't mean you don't have a say in it.

Since: Oct 9, 2006
Posted on: December 28, 2011 12:31 am

Tracking Tebow, Week 16: Defenses are catching on

Congratulations Ryan Wilson for being the latest fool in sports to claim a team controls their own destiny.  When will people realize the error in this phrase; if one could control their own destiny, it wouldn't be destiny.

Since: Jul 22, 2008
Posted on: December 27, 2011 8:12 pm

Tracking Tebow, Week 16: Defenses are catching on

"Tim Tebow combines the toughness of Ray Lewis with the passing ability of Ray Lewis."

- Jim Brockmire

Since: Feb 19, 2009
Posted on: December 27, 2011 7:23 pm

Tracking Tebow, Week 16: Defenses are catching on

The real Tim Tebow is coming out...can't throw decent pass and cannot read defenses.  Great guy and awesome teammate who needs to admit he does NOT have the skill set to be an NFL QB so he legions of loyal but foolish fans will accept him being converted to a tightend or fullback.

Since: Dec 27, 2011
Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:25 pm

Tracking Tebow, Week 16: Defenses are catching on

Is it Defenses catching up or the Broncos Defense lying down?  These guys gave up 49 points to New England and 40 points to the Buffalo Bills.  I don't see how Tebow would be able to overcome a defense who suddenly can't stop anyone.

Since: Dec 27, 2011
Posted on: December 27, 2011 12:32 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Mar 19, 2009
Posted on: December 27, 2011 12:28 pm

Tracking Tebow, Week 16: Defenses are catching on

It's pretty simple: Tim Tebow can't read defenses.  He needs to pump fake right, look center, and chuck it left.  That will give him the extra 1.5 seconds needed to freeze the safety.  Then his recievers can catch it and make some YAC or else a TD.  Oh and hitting wide- open receivers in-stride would help.  There was a pass early in the 3Q, where his receiver had to stop to catch a pass that was more of a floating helium balloon than an NFL or D1-caliber throw.

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