Tag:Denver Broncos
Posted on: January 3, 2012 10:00 am
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Tracking Tebow, Week 17: Stuck in reverse

We're Tracking Tebow … because it's impossible not to watch. 

By Ryan Wilson

Here's all you need to know about Tim Tebow's last three regular-season games: he has one touchdown, seven turnovers and the Broncos are 0-3. It's not entirely his fault -- just like the six-game winning streak wasn't wholly Tebow's doing -- but he's Denver's starting quarterback. Expectations are both high and unfair.

Tebowmania reached a crescendo last month, after the Broncos went from 1-4 to 8-5, but now that the new-car smell has worn off and Tebow apparently doesn't possess otherworldly powers, reality has set in. He's a second-year quarterback who struggles with many of the issues second-year quarterbacks face: reading defenses, throwing accurately, getting the ball out on time and leading an offense.

This isn't news, but it's still a problem for the Broncos, who backed into the playoffs because nobody else wanted to win the AFC West. And now Denver hosts one of the league's best defenses when Pittsburgh comes to town Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

Tebow has regressed in recent weeks and Sunday's effort against the Chiefs was his worst performance since he looked absolutely flummoxed against the Lions back in October.

We've talked about it previously, but the concern with Denver's read-option offensive philosophy was that eventually, defenses would catch up to it, as was the case with the wildcat several seasons ago. Unlike the wildcat, however, teams appear to have figured out the option in weeks instead of months.

The result: the Broncos conventional rushing attack, headed by Willis McGahee, is as good as ever. But with each game, Tebow become less a factor in the running game. When you couple that with his erratic passing skills, that makes him something less than one dimensional. (We talked about just that in the Pick-6 Podcast Week 17 recap below.)


Vegas currently has the Steelers favored by nine points which, frankly, is insane given that a) Pittsburgh is the visiting team and b) this is a playoff game. But the Broncos have a few things going for them. For starters, their defense can get after the quarterback, particularly one that likes to throw the ball only after standing in the pocket for three or four beats too long.

Second, if the Steelers' defense has a weakness, it's stopping the run. McGahee has proven adept at beating eight-man fronts, something he will continue to face as long as Denver keeps playing. Expect defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to look to stop McGahee first and worry later about Tebow beating the Steelers with his arm. It's not an original game plan but it's worked well the last three weeks. No need to change it until Tebow proves otherwise.


                                                   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



"For us to go out there and play the way we did and expect to do anything in the playoffs, it's not going to cut it. We got to get better -- find a way to get better." -- Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey told reporters after the game.

Bailey was asked what exactly needs to get better. "Everything. When we look at our team, we can't say 'this is our strength.' Because everything is mediocre. We gotta get better. … We backed into that thing (the playoffs). It's not the way you want to go in but, hey, we got another shot."

"Well, we're AFC West champs. It doesn't matter how you do it once you get in the dance they can't kick you out. What we do with it will be determined next weekend." -- John Fox


                                                   Audio-Visual




Tim Tebow has always done things the unorthodox way. Making the playoffs was no different. He fell short in his latest comeback bid, yet his Denver Broncos are still going to the playoffs after a 7-3 loss to the Chiefs.

NBC analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison discussed Sunday what teams are doing against Tebow and what he can expect to see from the Steelers next in the playoffs.


Tebow is sacked for a nine-yard loss that knocked the Broncos out of field-goal range.

Here's a screen shot what what the Chiefs did to slow up Tebow all afternoon (click to enlarge).


Dungy: Things don't stay secrets for long in the NFL. Rodney Harrison has been saying for eight weeks, 'This is how you play Tim Tebow.' Romeo Crennel listened to Rodney (in Week 17) … and (Steelers defensive coordinator) Dick LeBeau is going to see the exact same thing. … Tight man-to-man coverage, bump and run on the outside, load the box, and keep your linebackers up the field. This will be James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley next week -- keep Tim Tebow in that box. This is what Kansas City did all day Sunday.

Harrison: You have to understand who you're playing against. These (Denver) receivers are pretty good players but they're not all-star receivers. So you play them tight man-to-man coverage and you force Tim Tebow to make good decisions. The last few weeks, he has not made good decisions.

                                                   Eye on Tebow



Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) is sacked by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Wallace Gilberry (92) in the third quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 11:39 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 8:53 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 17: Brees for MVP?

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Listen to the Pick-Six Podcast Week 17 recap below and don't forget to
subscribe via iTunes
.

Drew Brees for MVP?

Over the next month, until the MVP is announced before the Super Bowl, there's going to be an intense debate about whether or not Drew Brees' incredible hot streak to close out the season vaulted him past Aaron Rodgers for the MVP award.

Four weeks ago, this wasn't a debate. Even with Brees having a monster year, the Packers were undefeated and Rodgers was eviscerating defenses on a weekly basis.

Their numbers were close enough to tell anyone suggesting a debate to kindly close their piehole.

Now? Well it's a lot closer than it was. The numbers (below) make that much obvious even though the actual premises behind the argument are just frustrating from the sense of measuring a season by its full extent.

Player
Comp % Pass Yards
Pass TDs INT
W-L
Aaron Rodgers
68.3 4,643 45 6 14-1
Drew Brees
71.2 5,476 46 14 13-3

The bigger problem for Rodgers may be a confluence of events around 4:00pm ET Sunday afternoon: as Brees was throwing his fifth touchdown pass (hey, just one more than Rodgers!), Packers backup Matt Flynn was going absolutely bananas against the Lions, slicing up Detroit's secondary for six touchdowns and 480 yards, a Packers franchise record.

Take a look at the list of the guys who've thrown for six teeters in a game since the merger. Spoiler alert: it's short, and full of awesome quarterbacks.

Flynn's on the list now and as a result, he's blatantly going to cost Rodgers a ton of "Well if the backup can do that" votes, while Brees staying in much longer than needed against the Panthers netted him a significant boost in the eyes of "What have you done for me lately?" voters.

But let's get one thing out of the way first: Aaron Rodgers is not a "system quarterback." Yeah, there's actually a debate raging as to whether he is or not. And if you believe that Rodgers is only successful because of the Packers "system" then you're as foolish as anyone who thought Tom Brady was a system quarterback when Matt Cassel had a big year filling in for the Patriots.

Every team has a "system" on offense and some -- the Packers and Patriots stand out -- are better than others. But Flynn's a good quarterback who's succeeded before (he nearly beat the Patriots in prime time last year), has a great pedigree (BCS title anyone?) and has spent multiple years working behind Rodgers. That's not going to make him worse. There's a reason the Packers, winners of 21 of 22 games since LAST Christmas, have him on the roster. And it's not because he makes a mean gumbo.

Look, less than two weeks ago, Rodgers carved up a very (very) good Bears defense on Christmas night. All season long he commanded the Packers offense like a conductor, made ridiculous throws that no one else in the NFL can make and generally let the world pencil his name in for MVP. 

His season's been so magnificent that it's somehow getting railroaded by the Packers losing to the Chiefs late (but don't forget, the Saints lost to the Rams and, uh, the Packers), sitting out Week 17 (a smart move with homefield clinched) and Sean Payton and Brees running up the score in order to break records (which is fine, but let's call it what it is).

There's no question that Drew Brees is a viable MVP candidate. He's had an all-time season in 2011. But judging the MVP race based on a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude is shortsighted, and it diminishes the incredible season Rodgers had in Green Bay.

Winners

Tom Coughlin: Coughlin won the NFC East, despite sitting on the hot seat most of the season, and the Giants suddenly have a look of a team that could absolutely be a playoff sleeper. They can rush the passer mercilessly when they get hot, Victor Cruz is turning into a salsa-dancing monster and Eli Manning's smoking hot right now. Given the success wild-card teams have had in recent years -- hello, 2007 Giants! -- it would be foolish to count them out.

Maurice Jones-Drew:
"Mojo" ripped off a season-high 169 rushing yards on Sunday against Indy. That not only gave him the NFL rushing title for 2011, but also gave him the Jaguars single-season record for rushing yards, as he broke Fred Taylor's previous high of 1,572 in 2003. In a very dismal season for Jacksonville's offense, MJD's been an absolute workhorse. He's up there with Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith in terms of all-time greats for the Jaguars.

Jason Taylor
: The only way Taylor's exit -- as a Dolphin, on the shoulders of his teammates after taking down the Jets -- could have been better is if the fumble he returned for a touchdown wasn't overturned. Taylor's a classy dude, a gamer, a hell of a dancer and at sixth all-time on the sack-leader list (not to mention a media favorite!), he'll find his way into Canton. Awesome career.

Matt Flynn: As noted above, Flynn had a decent day on Sunday. That's going to translate well when he becomes an unrestricted free agent and potentially becomes the most desirable quarterback on the market. There are lots of teams that need a quarterback and Flynn will be on everyone's radar just as much as Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. If someone falls in love with him, he might get Kevin Kolb money.

Cincinnati Bengals: Nothing like losing and still ending up in the winner's column, huh? The Bengals played the Ravens well on Sunday but Ray Rice was too much for them. Fortunately, KC beat Denver (or, if you prefer, San Diego beat Oakland) and the Bengals backed their way into a playoff matchup against a Texans team that will either start T.J. Yates or Jake Delhomme.

Sanchez is no lock for the Big Apple in 2012. (AP)

Losers

Mark Sanchez: The Jets never even got a shot at backdooring their way into the playoffs, as Sanchez picked apart his own offense and gave the Dolphins nine points off of three interceptions, two of which were to defensive lineman Randy Starks. It wouldn't ultimately matter, because the Titans won and eliminated Rex Ryan's crew, but anyone who justified Sanchez' performance with the old "He just wins!" argument has packed up their shanty and moved to Denver to make that argument. He didn't play like a $14 million quarterback this year -- even though he got paid like one -- and it would almost be surprising if the Jets didn't make a swap at the position.

Detroit Lions: They haven't won at Lambeau since 1991 now, dropping a mind-blowing 20 consecutive games at the Packers homefield. Of course, that's not why they're on this list, although it doesn't help. They're on this list because they just gave up 480 passing yards to the Packers backup and losing in Green Bay (coupled with Atlanta rumbling over the Bucs) means Detroit's next game will be in New Orleans. Against Drew Brees. You should go ahead and put your mortgage on the over.

Raheem Morris: I'm hesitant to include Morris because I'm pretty sure he'll have already been fired by time I hit publish. I mean, if there was ever a time not to let your opponent get out to a 42-0 lead it's definitely the final game of the season when you're riding a nine-game losing streak and barely clinging to your job.

Rob Ryan: Dallas looked absolutely flat early on Sunday night and somehow managed to storm back on the Giants, only to have the secondary shredded by Eli Manning when they cut the lead to seven points. Ryan's defense hasn't backed up his mouth all season long and even though you want your coach to make better late-game decisions and you don't want your quarterback turning the ball over late, there

John Elway: Kyle Orton didn't do anything crazy like throw for 500 yards to beat the Broncos on Sunday, but they win that game against Tyler Palko. Not that it mattered, because the Broncos made the playoffs anyway when the Chargers topped the Raiders. But Elway put himself in the position to miss the postseason by releasing Orton and even if it helped the team's chemistry they're barely hanging on right now and look like a lock for a first-round exit.

The Big Questions

 
The Broncos didn't exactly storm into the playoffs. (AP)

1. Is the Tim Tebow magic finally gone?
It just might be. The Broncos still made the playoffs, of course, and anything can happen once you get to the postseason. But Denver limped their way there, backing into a title at 8-8 on a three-game skid. Teams seem to have figured out that playing press-man coverage against Tebow severely limits what he can do on offense (he's much better at picking apart zones and makes fewer mistakes) and Denver proved that if they can't generate turnovers, they're in trouble. It's hard to imagine them beating the Steelers, even at home.

2. Who's the AFC favorite going forward?
The Ravens are my pick. They get homefield up to the AFC Championship and only lose it then if they have to play the Patriots. They've beaten the Bengals twice and they've beaten the Steelers twice. They've beaten New England in New England in the playoffs before, and the Pats have no defense. And the Ravens are nightmare matchups in Baltimore for Houston and Denver, neither of whom can keep pace if the Ravens start scoring.

3. How about the NFC?
Say what you want about how hot the Saints are -- and they are white hot -- but the Packers are still the favorites. They've got homefield throughout, they have two weeks to rest their starters and they can score on anyone. One bad week against the Chiefs does not a 15-1 team unseat. Their defense isn't great, but few teams do have a good defense and if they matchup against New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game, it's going down at Lambeau Field.

4. Who're the most dangerous non-playoff teams in 2012?
Eagles, Panthers and Chargers for me. The Snooze Buttons finished 8-8 and if they'd had a full offseason, they might have won the NFC East. Their dominant defense down the stretch is reason for optimism if you're an Eagles fan. Carolina needs defense, but they suffered an insane amount of injury-related attrition in 2011 and if they draft all defense and get healthy, they can contend in the NFC South. Plus: Cam Newton. And the Bolts showed this year they could be as good as playoff teams but just made stupid mistakes. A new coach could clear those problems up.

5. Any chance Jerry Jones changes his mind on Jason Garrett?
Jones has been incredibly supportive of Garrett so probably not. But someone's taking the fall for the Cowboys not making the playoffs and the best guess here is that it's Rob Ryan. He runs his mouth constantly and his defense doesn't back up all the talk -- their secondary got absolutely shredded by Eli Manning right after they got back into the game Sunday night.

6. What is Stevie Johnson thinking with his celebrations?

He's not thinking, actually. Johnson's scheduled to be a free agent in what's a really, really deep wide receiver class in 2012 and reportedly wants $7.5 million. The only problem is he's now developed a stigma for dropping really important catches and oftentimes costing his teams 15 yards with penalties like he did on Sunday. Wishing everyone "Happy New Years!" is a cool thing to do ... when it's not bad for your job and you're looking for a raise. Johnson's one of the most fun and interesting guys in the NFL but he has to be smarter than that.

7. How smart do the Steelers look for that Santonio Holmes trade now?
You don't even know the half of it. Not only did the dump a guy who's clearly a locker room distraction (Holmes) and not LaDainian Tomlinson-approved as a captain, but Pittsburgh allowed Mike Wallace to emerge as one of the best wideouts in the game and let someone else (the Jets) pick up the tab for Holmes' long-term deal. Oh, and in case you didn't know, they used the pick they got from the Jets to draft 2011 breakout wide receiver Antonio Brown

8. Should my team draft a running back early this year?
Negative, ghostrider, the pattern is full. Full of guys who weren't drafted in the first round leading the league in rushing anyway.

Player
2011 Rush Yards
2011 Rush YPG
2011 Rush TDs
2011 YPC
Year/Round/Pick
Maurice Jones-Drew
1,606 100.4 8 4.7 2006/2/60th
LeSean McCoy
1,309 87.3 17 4.8 2009/2/53rd
Arian Foster
1,224 94.2 10 4.4 2009/None/UFA
Frank Gore
1,211 75.7 8 4.3 2008/2/55
Ray Rice
1,173 78.2 10 4.4 2005/3/65

This doesn't mean teams should avoid drafting someone who's a special talent in college (see: Adrian Peterson) but there's a real sweet spot developing in the draft for undersized, pass-catching running backs (go ahead and add in Jamaal Charles too) who turn out to be a lot better than where they were drafted.

9. How's that Carson Palmer trade working out now?
Not so good. The Raiders could have arguably won the trade if they made the playoffs. All they had to do was beat a downtrodden Chargers team at home and they couldn't, so they miss the postseason and give up a first-round pick and a second-round pick to the Bengals (who made the playoffs, naturally). With Palmer, the Raiders were 6-4 and he threw 13 touchdowns and 16 picks. Whoops. Add in the fact that Hue Jackson just coached the most-penalized team in NFL history and he has some explaining to do.

10. Is Romeo Crennel the Chiefs next head coach?
Hard to imagine he's not. KC finished 6-9 on the season and two of those wins were with Crennel in charge; they also nearly beat Oakland in Week 16 too. Surely Scott Pioli thinks that with Crennel in charge this season and better injury luck the Chiefs would've won the division. He might be right, actually, and that's why Crennel will get the gig.

11. How many records did the Saints break on Sunday?
Eleventy billion or thereabouts. Brees and Sean Payton were basically rubber-stamping their signatures all over the NFL's offensive record books. They set the record for points scored in a season, most points scored at home in a season, most passing yards in a season (Brees' own record), best completion percentage in a season (again, Brees'), most completions in a season, most all-purpose yards in a single season (Darren Sproles owns it) and most receiving yards by a tight end in a season (only Rob Gronkowski broke that one a little while later). I can't confirm it, but I'm pretty sure the Saints broke the record for most broken records as well.

GIF O' THE WEEK

Bryan Braman is going to get fined for a helmet-to-helmet hit that he made ... without a helmet.

Worth 1,000 Words


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Posted on: January 1, 2012 10:13 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 10:05 am
 

2012 NFL Wild Card/Divisional Playoff Schedule

By Will Brinson

The NFL announced the schedule for the first two rounds of the 2012 playoffs on Sunday night.

Here's all you need to know:

NFL Wild Card Weekend

Saturday, January 7
AFC: 4:30 PM (ET) -- Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (NBC)
NFC: 8:00 PM (ET) -- Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (NBC)

Sunday, January 8
NFC: 1:00 PM (ET) -- Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants (FOX)
AFC: 4:30 PM (ET) -- Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos (CBS)

NFL Divisional Playoffs

Saturday, January 14
NFC: 4:30 PM (ET) -- New Orleans/Dallas-N.Y. Giants/Atlanta at San Francisco (FOX)
AFC: 8:00 PM (ET) -- Denver/Pittsburgh/Cincinnati at New England (CBS)

Sunday, January 15
AFC: 1:00 PM (ET) -- Houston/Denver/Pittsburgh at Baltimore (CBS)
NFC: 4:30 PM (ET) -- Dallas-N.Y. Giants/Atlanta/Detroit at Green Bay (FOX)

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 2:56 pm
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Week 17 preview, coach carousel

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Our last weekly preview of the season is also the last one of 2011 (is the "see you next year!" joke ever funny?). We hope you enjoyed it this year and if you've got anything you'd like to see improved/changed/worked on whatever, let us know.

In the meantime, we break down the all the big games from Week 17 and wonder if the Bengals can beat the Ravens, who this game means the most for, how much Anquan Boldin's loss hurts Baltimore and who's to blame for the Jets debacle, the chances of the Raiders and Broncos making the playoffs and whether or not Tim Tebow should be the Broncos starter going forward.

Then we take a look at what coaches are on the hot seat, who's likely to be fired on Monday, plus much, much more.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: December 30, 2011 1:32 pm
 

Report: Tebow Broncos starter in 2012 regardless

Tebow and Orton meet again on Sunday. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Denver and Kansas City square off on Sunday with plenty at stake: the Broncos want to win the AFC West, and the Chiefs want to give Kyle Orton redemption for being benched and released by Denver earlier this year. Reportedly not at stake, though? Tim Tebow's job as a starter.

That's according to NFL.com's Jeff Darlington, who reports that Tebow is locked as the starter for Denver in 2012, regardless of whether or not the Broncos make the playoffs.

"Sources have indicated, regardless of the outcome Sunday, the Broncos plan to move forward with the mindset that Tebow will remain the team's starter in 2012," Darlington wrote Friday.

Darlington's also got a juicy nugget about the relationship between Orton and Tebow. The Broncos quarterbacks have a fine system that keeps each other accountable (this is common among NFL position players) and the group began fining Tebow when fans bought billboards demanding that Orton be benched and Tebow get starts.

Though this ultimately happened, it pretty clearly created a rift and explains why the Broncos let Orton go. (Darlington also reports that allowing Tebow to have "better control of the locker room" was a deciding factor in Orton's release.) But if letting Orton go ultimately costs the Broncos a shot at the playoffs, it's simply an indefensible decision.


A totally defensible one is keeping Tebow ingrained as the starter. There are many reasons for this. He's under contract in 2012. He won games. He could progress as a passer. There won't be a franchise quarterback available when the Broncos draft next April. Using picks to trade up grab a quarterback ignores other needs. The Broncos are still technically "rebuilding," and drafting defensive players would serve them better. Tim Tebow is an absolute cash cow for the team. Giving him a vote of confidence now only decreases the scrutiny on the situation leading into the final parts of this season.

The list could go on for a while. Which is why it makes a lot of sense for the Broncos to have already arrived at the decision that Tim Tebow's their starter in 2012. Even if their 2011 starter manages to knock them out of the playoff hunt.

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 9:31 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Herzlich + Week 17 film room

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

The holiday season's had us off our game when it comes to podcasting (you try talking into a microphone when you've got 14 family members screaming in the background), but we've got a long one to get you through your Friday right now.

Andy Benoit joins Will to break down the NFC East "championship game" on Sunday night and compare/contrast Eli Manning and Tony Romo.

Ryan then chats up Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich about his first year in the NFL, being in the thick of a playoff hunt and how his work with Gatorade prepared him for the NFL.

Then Will and Andy break down all the remaining big games and discuss whether the Bengals can upset the Ravens, if the Jets are actually worthy of the playoffs, if the Broncos deserve to get beat by Kyle Orton, if Cam Newton's first year is the best rookie season ever, and much more.

Finally, Wilson talks to Michael David Smith of PFT about the Lions finally making it back to the playoffs and the week that was in the NFL. It's a jam-packed, holiday bonus show.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: December 28, 2011 3:00 pm
 

Film Room: Broncos vs. Chiefs preview


Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


Reputations will be on the line in Denver this Sunday. A Broncos win keeps the Tim Tebow mania alive, as it means the Mile High City will host a playoff games for the first time in six years. John Elway would almost certainly be compelled to keep his promise of bringing Tebow back in 2012, and the Broncos might start building around their unconventional quarterback.

A Broncos loss, however, jeopardizes the Tebow mania, as the unskilled passer who does nothing but win would have finished the season on a three-game losing streak. The fallout would be even worse for Elway given that the loss will have come at the hands of Kyle Orton, the veteran quarterback whom Denver allowed Kansas City to claim scot-free. Here’s the breakdown of Sunday’s matchup:

Last time
1. The Week 10 matchup
When these teams met back in Week 10, the Broncos completed just two passes (total!). One of those passes happened to be a 56-yard touchdown to Eric Decker, which, mixed with 244 yards on 55 rushing attempts, was enough for a Broncos victory.

Schematically, the Chiefs were prepared to stop the Broncos’ freshly unwrapped read-option run game; they had athletic inside linebacker Derrick Johnson spy Tebow, brought safeties into the box and had outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston stay home on the edge.

Physically, however, the Chiefs defensive line got manhandled. Their lack of penetration allowed the Broncos to continuously pick up three and four yards on banal inside carries. Tebow registered two big runs off the read-option, isolating end Glenn Dorsey on one run and Lawrence Jackson on the other. Because those two former first-round picks were neutralized by one-on-one blocking, Denver’s interior linemen consistently got bodies on Kansas City’s linebackers.

On the other side, Denver’s pass-rush got to Matt Cassel and their back seven defenders simply “out-athleted” Kansas City’s skill players.

This time
2. Chiefs D vs. Broncos run game
Some of the sizzle has naturally left the read-option, but that isn’t to say it’s not still an effective approach. The read-option forces a defense to play ultra-sharp, assignment-based football. As we saw early in the Week 15 Patriots game at Denver, when defenders fail to take on blocks at proper angles or keep the action from going outside, they get gouged.

Expect the Chiefs to be better against the read-option this time around. Hali and Houston have been excellent edge run-defenders in recent weeks.  Dorsey and Jackson are still hit or miss, but they’re more likely to “hit” when they can play finesse and attack gaps or work down the line of scrimmage. Their misses pile up when they’re forced to play with power in a phone booth.

The Chiefs know this and now know how to gameplan accordingly. They just watched the Bills defensive linemen last week attack gaps to eliminate some of the running lanes for Bronco ballcarriers. Those defensive linemen did not make the tackle or even always occupy multiple blockers, but by taking some of the “options” out of the read-option, they made the ballcarrier hesitant and, thus, predictable. That translated to minimal gains against an eight-man box.

3. Kansas City manning-up in pass defense
The Bills were able to be aggressive with their eighth box defender because they knew they could stop the Bronco passing game with man coverage. That’s a great defensive tactic against Denver’s offense, as possession type receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are best handled that way.

Man defense also takes away the surprise factor in the screen game and keeps a spy on Tebow, which limits his scrambling. The irony is that Tebow has shown he’s more inclined to scramble against man coverage. The reason for this is, not being strong-armed or a precision passer, Tebow is uncomfortable fitting the ball into tight areas. To a young quarterback, NFL man coverage makes all areas appear tight. If Tebow’s first read isn’t there, his first instinct is to tuck and run.

The defensive risks in a man coverage approach are linebackers missing their assignments when they bite on a good read-option fake (which Buffalo’s did on Dante Rosario’s 32-yard catch-and-run), or players allowing themselves to be taken out of run defense position by an easy release (which is when a tight end runs a pass route away from the point of attack on a run play, carrying his man-defender with him right out of the picture).

The Chiefs – with two superb press corners in Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers outside, a shifty slot corner in Javier Arenas and athletic linebackers – should eagerly bog down and play man this Sunday. They beat the Packers with this formula two weeks ago and would have beaten the Raiders last week if they had stayed with it the entire game (they went to Tampa 2 a small handful of times and saw their safeties get burned by speedy receivers on two long passes that decided the outcome).

Broncos vs. Chiefs: Orton's revenge? (Getty Images)

4. Kyle Orton
In some ways, the seven-year pro is the consummate system quarterback. Whatever the system calls for, Orton delivers. He can post big numbers in a wide open aerial attack like he did two years ago under Josh McDaniels, or he can move the chains in a ball control scheme like he did two weeks ago under Romeo Crennel. His issues are consistency and playmaking.

Orton managed the game brilliantly against Green Bay two weeks ago and then threw two costly interceptions by failing to read basic safety help last week against Oakland. In Denver, Orton’s limitations showed up when John Fox and Mike McCoy installed a more traditional system to run with only mediocre receivers. Orton was unable to extend plays and improvise, which is why the Broncos offense was lethargic until Tebow replaced him.

Overall, the Chiefs can feel good about who they have under center in this game. Orton is certainly familiar with the opponent. He has terrific ball-handling skills, which allow him to manipulate safeties and execute play-action effectively. And since taking over, he’s made good use of his tight ends and running backs in the passing game.

5. Chiefs base offense
Tight ends and running backs could be prominent in the Chiefs’ passing attack this week given that linebackers Joe Mays and Von Miller aren’t great in coverage out of base defense. The Broncos will spend more time in base defense than they have in recent weeks, as the Crennel-led Chiefs predominantly utilize run-first personnel.

The run formations will keep Miller at strongside linebacker, nullifying his punishing first-step off the edge. Miller doesn’t have to line up at defensive end in order to rush the passer; he’s a great blitzer from the second level. However, teams lately have used a lot of three-and five-step drops against Denver, which completely nullifies a second-level blitzer and significantly softens the impact of pass-rushing ends. That’s the best way to contain Miller and Elvis Dumervil (who has come alive after a slow start).

Against the quick drops, the Broncos should tighten their coverage and force the Chiefs receivers to beat them early in the down. Dwayne Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin are strong but not savvy enough to outmaneuver veterans like Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman. Steve Breaston is quick and can get early spacing by lining up off the line, but most of his (limited) damage this season has come on deeper crossing patterns, not quick strikes.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 17 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: December 27, 2011 9:34 pm
 

Tebow best-selling religious author this year

Tebow

By Josh Katzowitz

Tim Tebow is America’s sweetheart (or foil, depending on your perspective). He’s 7-3 as the Broncos starter since taking over for Kyle Orton, and although he probably has no business playing as an NFL quarterback, the guy has a knack for lifting his team to victory. So much so that the Broncos will qualify for the postseason with a win this week.

But more than that, Tebow inspires. And that’s probably why the book he and co-author Nathan Whitaker released before the season began is the top-selling religious book of the year.

According to the Washington Post, “Through My Eyes” has sold 220,000 copies since it was released in June. Chances are, once the holiday figures are tallied, that number is going to increase heavily.

The Life of Tebow
Though you could mock the notion that anybody in their 20s should be writing an autobiography, there’s little doubt that people want to know about Tebow, his life, and his beliefs.

“(Readership) is beyond the evangelical world and NFL fans now,” Mark Tauber, senior vice president and publisher at HarperOne, told the newspaper. “There’s just sort of a general intrigue about what drives this guy.”

Book sales increased dramatically when Tebow took over for Orton. As the paper writes, the publisher began selling 2,000 per week when he was named starter, and eventually, after piling up a number of improbable, extraordinarily-exciting wins, he sold 25,000 in the week ending Dec. 18.

For now, there are nearly a half-million books in print, and the publisher expects to keep selling high volume in the offseason when Tebow can promote it more actively.

“We’ve had a number of accounts say, ‘We’re betting on this guy into January, February and beyond’ and their orders are evidence of that,” Tauber said. “So I don’t think 475,000 is at all where we’re going to stop. I know it’s not.”

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