Posted on: December 15, 2011 11:12 am
By Josh Katzowitz
In one of the premier matchups of the week -- and if you don’t believe us, check out Peter King’s MMQB in which he details the fight between NBC and CBS for the right to broadcast the game -- the Patriots travel to Denver to face the Broncos in a battle of first-place teams.
It’s Tom Brady vs. Tim Tebow. It’s the Chosen Son (Tebow) vs. God’s Gift to Quarterbacks (Brady). It’s Good vs. um, the Very Good. It’s the hottest team in the NFL vs. one of the best teams of the past decade.
It should be fun to watch, and considering the Patriots are about a touchdown favorite for their road game, New England should win the matchup. Of course, we’ve been saying that about most Broncos opponents for the past two months, and with the exception of the Lions, Denver has vanquished every team it’s played since Tebow took over the quarterback spot. If I had to bet my mortgage on the outcome of this game, I’d put my money on the Patriots.
But … it’s possible Denver somehow pulls off the win, especially given its amazing run during the past eight games. Thus, in this week’s Top Ten (with a Twist), I’ve come up with 10 reasons why the Broncos will win. Sure, Denver will probably need to play the perfect game while catching New England on one of its lesser days in order to pull off the upset, but as we’ve seen, you always should believe in the power of Tebow.
10. The running game: Willis McGahee has to be considered a contender for the comeback player of the year. He’s rushed for 920 yards this season, and considering he combined for 924 yards as a Ravens running back in 2009 and 2010 before he was deemed washed up, his contribution has been a bit of a surprise. But with the loss of Knowshon Moreno, McGahee has picked up the load. Except, of course, when Tebow is running the ball (his 517 yards rank him third among quarterbacks in rushing), because, as Brian Urlacher knows, he’s also a “good running back.” If the Broncos can keep the ball on the ground and keep Brady off the field, that obviously would be ideal for Denver.
9. The Broncos are best closers in the league: They came back in the fourth quarter against the Dolphins, against the Jets, against the Chargers, against the Vikings and against the Bears. It’s Tebow Time, and it’s been the most fun storyline of this NFL season.
8. Broncos home field advantage: When Denver began its late-game comeback against the Bears, the stadium got loud. Real freakin’ loud. The Broncos fans will be loud Sunday -- at least to start the game. The trick for Denver is to keep those fans engaged throughout the game, to keep it raucous when the Patriots are on offense. Hey, there’s a reason Brady is 1-3 in Denver during his career (and 1-5 against the Broncos overall).
7. Tebow has better hair than Brady: OK, in the above photo, they’d probably fight to a draw, although personally, I give Tebow an edge because his style is less Bieberish. No, I’m talking about the photo at the right. That was the handiwork of Wesley Woodyard last year when the Broncos hazed the man who would eventually become the Boy Wonder. Not that Tebow minded his friar’s haircut at the time. "I think all the rookies had a good time with it. It was something to give everybody a laugh, something also to build chemistry.". By the way, if you Google image “friar hair cut,” Tebow pictures are the first three results. But getting back to the point. Could Brady pull off this look? I’m guessing no.
6. Broncos opponents are dumb: Or, at very least, they do dumb things when they play Denver. You might recall the tiny issue of Cowboys running back Marion Barber stepping out of bounds late in the fourth quarter last Sunday allowing Tebow the chance to tie the game and send it to overtime. Suddenly, defensive coordinators, late in games, play prevent defense -- Tebow has proven that those kind of schemes are not tough for him to figure out. Suddenly, teams send all-out blitzes against him and fail to contain the edge. Suddenly, nobody knows exactly what the Broncos are going to do on a two-point conversion. Tebow’s power is so great apparently that he turns the minds of opponents to mush.
5. Much-improved defense: Before Tebow took over the starting role -- and this was unfortunate for Kyle Orton -- the Broncos defense allowed 23, 22, 17, 49 and 29 points through the first five games. Since Orton was booted to the curb, Denver’s defense has allowed 15 points or less on four different occasions. The Broncos defense still is less than mediocre -- Denver ranks 22nd in points allowed and 19th in yards allowed -- but man, what any improvement it’s made.
4. The kicking game: Falling far down on the list of why the Broncos are successful (behind the defense, the running game and Tebow) is Matt Prater. He was our near-unanimous Eye on Football special teams player of the week selection after blasting a 59-yard game-tying field goal at the end of regulation Sunday and then nailing the 51-yarder in overtime to win it. Since Tebow took over eight games ago, Prater has kicked four game-winning field goals. That’s a decent percentage. It’s almost like Prater is the Tebow of place-kickers.
3. Fox has been the better coach this year: Look at what he’s done. He’s recreated the starting quarterback who probably shouldn’t be starting at quarterback at all and helped build an offense that has allowed the Broncos to win seven of eight and put themselves in position to win the AFC West. Meanwhile, Belichick’s defense, which doesn’t officially have a coordinator, has been terrible. Belichick is one of the best coaches in NFL history, but Fox has been more adaptable this season.
2. Patriots pass defense: Look, it will take a huge effort from the Broncos defense to keep New England’s offense from taking over the game immediately. But if that happens, Tebow -- not necessarily known as the most accurate of passers --could find success against the Patriots, who boast the worst defense in the league AND the worst past defense. His receivers need to play cleanly (they had WAY too many drops last week), but Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker have shown big-play capabilities since Tebow took over the offense. With a rotating line up of journeyman defensive backs in New England, the Broncos could make life difficult.
1. God loves Tebow the mostest: So say these people, anyway.
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Posted on: October 26, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 9:43 pm
Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit
It’s impossible to avoid the Tim Tebow coverage at this point. Since you’ll be hearing about the Broncos-Lions game all week, you might as well make the best of it and be familiar with the two teams. Here is a five-point rundown of the matchup, starting with a quick ode to You Know Who.
The argument is no longer whether Tebow can become a more conventional quarterback; it’s whether the Broncos can win without him becoming a conventional quarterback. The elongated throwing motion probably isn’t going away. The flawed footwork may improve, but no guarantees. The arm strength will likely always be what it is: middling.
At this point, the Broncos coaching staff is limiting Tebow’s reads with simplified gameplans. That’s common with young quarterbacks. But usually young quarterbacks have more passing tools to work with. Tebow has running tools, which are hard to successfully incorporate into an NFL gameplan.
Tebow worshipers love to tout his “It Factor”. Twice now we’ve seen that “It Factor” late in the fourth quarter when the trailing Broncos have been compelled to cut loose Tebow’s inner sandlot soul. And it’s worked. So why doesn’t John Fox have Tebow play this way for all four quarters? Because he fears that if he did, the Broncos would trail by 30 late in the fourth instead of the usual 15 or 16.
Let’s look at the rest of this matchup.
2. Broncos offense
As we highlighted in last week’s Finer Points analysis, the Broncos have severe limitations at wide receiver. None of their targets are vertical threats. Eric Decker gets off press coverage well but is restricted to underneath stuff. Eddie Royal is an uninspiring slasher. Demaryius Thomas is solid and has upside, but only in a possession sense. And undrafted Matt Willis is untested.
Because of this, the Broncos are a throwback offense that operates out of traditional two-backs, one-tight end sets and abides largely by the laws of run-run-pass. That’s not a winning formula, but if the run game is working, it can at least be a “not losing” formula.
The run game has worked the past two weeks. Though Willis McGahee rushed for 103 yards against the Packers in Week 6, 125 yards against the Chargers in Week 5 and 76 yards against the Dolphins this past Sunday, he's out for for at least the next month with a broken hand. That means, Knowshon Moreno -- last year's first-round pick who is a mechanic, finesse-based back who has been relegated to third down duties -- will take over. Like McGahee, at least Moreno has the benefit of operating behind an offensive line that is well sized and, for the most part, athletic.
3. Lions defense
The Lions run defense is not nearly as bad as its ranking (28) indicates. A few missed tackles have led to big gains on the ground. Missed tackles are the type of mistakes that can quickly be corrected. The Lions have one of the deepest, most athletic defensive lines in football.
The line’s ability to win early in the down allows speedy linebackers DeAndre Levy, Justin Durant and Stephen Tulloch to play untouched and downhill – something all three are doing extremely well. Safety Louis Delmas is also outstanding at locating and quickly filling the point of attack against the run. He’ll see plenty of time in the box given Denver’s nonexistent downfield passing game.
Denver needs to forget about running outside and instead attack Detroit right up the gut. That may seem problematic given the presence of Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams, but in the last two weeks, the Niners and Falcons, two other power-run teams, have taken a clever approach to this.
This concept did three things for the Falcons and 49ers:
1. Eliminated Suh from the play without costing the offense an extra blocker in a double team, and without asking the right guard to win a one-on-one matchup that few, if any, right guards could possibly win.
2. Opened a natural hole in the A-gap, which is the easiest hole for a running back to hit quickly.
3. Allowed an offensive lineman to immediately reach a linebacker without being touched (a run-blocker’s dream).
Expect the Broncos to try a similar tactic this Sunday. It will be interesting to see what adjustment the Lions will have made to combat this (it’s doubtful they’d ask Suh to NOT penetrate off the snap).
4. Lions offense
This unit has had the chinks in its armor exposed the past two weeks. At this point, Matthew Stafford and the Lions are overly dependent on Calvin Johnson. That’s fine when Jahvid Best is in the lineup. But with Best out, the Lions don’t pose much of a run threat out of shotgun (overwhelmingly their favorite formation).
They also lose Best’s outside presence on bubble screens. This allows defenses to be more aggressive near the line of scrimmage against Titus Young, Nate Burleson and tight end Brandon Pettigrew, all of whom struggled last Sunday.
This puts more pressure on Johnson. He’s an otherworldly talent, but he’s never been inspiring against intense double coverage (he was nowhere near as impactful against the Niners two weeks ago as his 113 yards suggested).
Also, as we saw against the Falcons, with the passing game’s quick-strike element suppressed, this unathletic front five gets exposed.
5. Broncos defense
The Broncos have the resources to exploit Detroit’s pass-blocking. Von Miller is the AFC’s answer to Clay Matthews. Elvis Dumervil has had a quiet season but will still a handful for Jeff Backus. And last week the safeties and linebackers timed their blitzes extremely well.
The Broncos also have the resources to keep up with Detroit’s passing attack. Champ Bailey is still a top-tier cornerback, shadowing the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver week in and week out. Bailey will need rookie free safety Quinton Carter (who has replaced Rahim Moore) to be a little more reliable in help coverage than he’s been, but with a respectable pass-rush, the Broncos shouldn’t feel too nervous about this matchup.
Nickel linebackers D.J. Williams (insane athlete) and Wesley Woodyard are both stellar pass defenders who can contain Pettigrew. The deciding factor will be whether cornerbacks Andre Goodman and Jonathan Wilhite can physically stymie Burleson and Young. Teams have targeted Wilhite, who’s been in and out of the lineup.
So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 8 games.
Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Tags: Andre Goodman, Andy Benoit, Brandon Pettigrew, Calvin Johnson, Champ Bailey, Clay Matthews, Corey Williams, D.J. Williams, DeAndre Levy, DeMaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Elvis Dumervil, Eric Decker, Film Room, Jahvid Best, Jeff Backus, Jim Schwartz, John Fox, Jonathan Wilhite, Justin Durant, Knowshon Moreno, Louis Delmas, Matt willis, Matthew Stafford, Nate Burleson, Ndamukong Suh, Quinton Carter, Rahim Moore, Stephen Tulloch, Tim Tebow, Titus Young, Von Miller, Wesley Woodyard, Willis McGahee
Posted on: October 19, 2011 4:21 pm
Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit
Saints vs. Colts
New Orleans’ two new weapons
The Saints have redefined their passing attack. It now runs through Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles. Graham has been far and away the best tight end in football this season. All onlookers could observe last season that the former Hurricanes power forward possessed considerable raw talent, but few could have predicted he’d polish it this quickly.
Graham has a natural feel for gaining positioning against pass defenders (insert obligatory “like a rebounder” comment here) and, best of all, he’s a hands-catcher who snags the ball away from his body. This makes him nearly impossible to defend, given his size and elevation abilities. Helping the cause is that the Saints align Graham all over the formation, which gives defenses fits in deciding what personnel package to use (most, including the Bucs this past week, have been going with nickel and treating Graham like a slot receiver).
Graham is Brees’s go-to guy. Sproles might be Sean Payton’s.
When the Saints are trying to dictate the tempo of a drive, they often look to get Sproles the ball underneath. The key is putting him in positions to run after the catch. This could mean screens, though often it has meant short outs and ins on spread plays where wideouts run deep to lift the coverage. Sproles has remarkable quickness and elusiveness, amplified by a rare-found ability to start and stop. He’s been much better in this offense than Reggie Bush ever was.
So how will the Colts defend the two new weapons? They’re a zone-based defense with fast linebackers. That helps against Sproles, but it does little for containing Graham. If the Saints can find ways to pass protect long enough to run vertical routes outside, that’ll prevent the Colts safeties from running under and over Graham’s routes. This would spell a fifth-straight 100-yard game for the rising star.
Dolphins vs. Broncos
Tebow’s limited resources
You couldn’t ask for more favorable conditions for a new starting young quarterback: two weeks to prepare, a game at Miami (where the weather is nice and the crowd is irrelevant) and facing a defense that, even with a beast like Cameron Wake, has for some reason completely forgotten how to rush the passer.
Trading your No. 1 receiver just days before the game might not seem favorable to a young quarterback, but that receiver was unenthused about playing with Tebow and hadn’t been getting open in Denver’s new ball-control offense anyway. Plus, he was liable to leave after the season, and his spot is ready to be filled by a now-healthy (hopefully) Demaryius Thomas.
Thomas is a possession target, whereas Brandon Lloyd was more of a vertical threat (though not a burner). The Broncos already have a litany of possession targets, such as Eric Decker, Matt Willis and, when healthy, Eddie Royal. This lack of vertical speed compresses the field and narrows throwing lanes, which isn’t good with a slow-reading young quarterback who has a long windup and prefers to improvise outside the pocket.
The Dolphins are healthy at cornerback again; with no downfield threats to worry about, don’t be surprised if this is the week they finally figure out how to reach the quarterback.
Bears vs. Buccaneers (London)
Forces up front
When playing well, these teams offer two of the faster defensive front sevens in football. The Bucs defensive ends – vastly improved Michael Bennett and explosive rookie Adrian Clayborn – feasted on the shoddy Saints tackles last week and should be licking their chops for J’Marcus Webb and Lance Louis (a guard by trade who has taken over for the overwhelmed Frank Omiyale on the right side).
Linebacker Geno Hayes played with instincts and speed against the Saints, which hasn’t always been the case this season. He’ll have a big say in whether the Bucs can contain Mr. Do It All, Matt Forte.
For Chicago, the mission will be attacking right tackle Jeremy Trueblood. Julius Peppers, bum knee and all, is a force who can matchup with Donald Penn on the left side. Same goes for underrated Israel Idonije. But over the years, when it’s rained on Trueblood, it’s poured. He’s the guy to go after.
The Bucs don’t have a backfield star like Matt Forte to build around, though Earnest Graham is a productive receiver who, as he showed last week, can add a dimension of surprising (though subtle) inside quickness and elusiveness.
Don’t be stunned if Graham becomes a bigger component in the run game even after LeGarrette Blount gets healthy. Graham, however, is facing a much greater challenge this week than he faced last week; Chicago’s linebackers are just as fast as New Orleans’ but a lot more physical.
So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 7 games.
Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Tags: Adrian Clayborn, Andy Benoit, Buccaneers vs. Bears, Cameron Wake, Chicago Bears, Darren Sproles, Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos, Dolphins vs. Broncos, Donald Penn, Drew Brees, Earnest Graham, Eddie Royal, Eric Decker, Frank Omiyale, Geno Hayes, Indianapolis Colts, Israel Idonije, Jeremy Trueblood, Jimmy Graham, JMarcus Webb, Julius Peppers, Lance Louis, LeGarrette Blount, Matt Forte, Matt Willis, Mchael Bennett, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, NFL London Game, Saints vs. Colts, Sean Payton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tim Tebow
Posted on: September 11, 2011 11:28 am
Posted by Ryan Wilson
The Broncos selected Demaryius Thomas with the 22nd overall pick of the 2010 draft to give Kyle Orton a big-play deep threat. So far, Thomas' career has been marred by injury. He played in only 10 games a year ago and managed 22 catches for 283 yards and two touchdowns.
Brandon Lloyd emerged as Orton's downfield playmaker (77 catches, 1,448 yards, 11 TDs) in 2010, and that's how 2011 will start, too. Because Thomas, who missed training camp and the preseason while he recovered from February surgery to repair a torn Achilles, has another injury to add to the list: a broken finger suffered during Thursday's practice.
"He ran a curl route against cornerback Champ Bailey, the pass got on Thomas quickly, and he suffered what he thought was a jammed finger, the Denver Post's Mike Klis wrote Sunday morning. "Thomas finished the practice, but tests Friday revealed a break in the finger. He did not practice Friday or Saturday."
Thomas begins his second NFL season with more injuries than career touchdowns. In addition to the torn Achilles and broken finger, he broke a bone in his foot while working out at the 2010 NFL Combine, and missed the final five games of the Broncos' regular season with a bad ankle.
Klis adds that Thomas' latest injury isn't "a huge concern because [he] was not going to play in the first two or three regular-season games as he worked his way back into football shape. He will be able to continue rehabbing his Achilles while he heals from his finger injury."
The Broncos begin their season against the Raiders on Monday night.
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Posted on: July 22, 2011 5:59 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 6:59 pm
Posted by Josh Katzowitz
The sexual assault case involving Broncos CB Perrish Cox was a nasty affair even before the judge in the case unsealed the court documents. Now that the Denver Post has picked up the arrest affidavit, the stench doesn’t revolve only around Cox anymore.
It’s spread to two of his teammates as well.
The victim in the rape case told officers that she thinks she was drugged the night she partied with Cox, WR Demaryius Thomas and DB Cassius Vaughn, and she didn’t realize she had sex that night until she discovered later that she was pregnant -- allegedly with Cox’s baby.
In the affidavit seeking Cox’s arrest, the woman said she had about four drinks the night of Sept. 5 and believed she passed out at Cox’s apartment because she had been drugged. The woman said she had been kissed and fondled by Thomas that night as well, but he had left before she fell asleep.
Thomas later provided DNA evidence to police that proved he wasn’t the baby’s father, and Vaughn, who was living with Cox at the time, also was proven not to be the father.
Originally, Cox’s lawyers had argued that the documents should not be unsealed, but the judge who ruled on the matter wrote: "Concerns about the potential harm to the right of the Defendant and the People to obtain a fair trial, should the affidavit be released, can be addressed through certain preventative measures taken during the trial process. Public policy weighs in favor of access to and the release of the record as opposed to the continued sealing of the document.”
Earlier Friday, the Colorado Supreme Court chose not to review the appeal by Cox’s lawyers, and thus, the affidavit was released today.
Cox, who is out on bail, faces a maximum life sentence for the two felonies.
To check out the 13-page affidavit in PDF form, click here.
UPDATED 6:56 P.M. ET: According to Fox 31 in Denver, the accuser ended her pregnancy.
Also, the Broncos have released a statement on the Cox matter: "The allegations involving Perrish Cox are extremely serious and troubling to our organization,” the Broncos said in a statement Friday afternoon. “We will continue to monitor this situation very closely."
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Posted on: May 31, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 9:58 pm
Posted by Ryan Wilson
In the months leading up to the 2010 NFL Draft, there was speculation that Tim Tebow, college phenom, would be a flop in the pros, at least as a quarterback. There was talk that he'd be moved to tight end or H-back, or maybe even linebacker. The Broncos, then coached by Josh McDaniels (who also happened to be the Patriots' offensive coordinator during the record-breaking 2007 season), thought enough of Tebow to take him with the 25th overall pick.
Kyle Orton, who was coming off a 3,802-yard passing performance that included 21 TDs in '09, began 2010 as Denver's starter, but after suffering bruised ribs, Orton gave way to Tebow for the final three games of the year. The results: a loss to the Raiders, a win against the Texans and a season-ending loss to the Chargers.
Most of the time it wasn't pretty. Tebow ended the year completing half his throws for 654 yards, five TDs and three picks (and added another 227 yards on the ground), but putting up pretty stats isn't his calling card. It's his toughness, his tenacity and his ability to lead his teammates.
With McDaniels out, new coach John Fox named Kyle Orton the starter, with Tebow and Brady Quinn in the running. (At least that was the case earlier this month when Fox told season-ticket holders as much during a conference call. If the price is right, however, the situation could change.) That hasn't stopped Tebow from preparing like a starter, even with the uncertainty surrounding the 2011 season.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday that Tebow organized his own team workouts in Jacksonville with Broncos wide receivers.
"Last week, Tebow flew Broncos wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney and Britt Davis to Jacksonville, put them up in a nearby hotel, and then led a week of workouts in his hometown, [a league] source said," according to Schefter.
"Each of the Broncos receivers had hoped to come, the source said, but Eric Decker had another commitment, and Demaryius Thomas (torn Achilles) and Eddie Royal (strained hamstring) were unable to practice at this time due to lingering injuries."
Schefter adds that the receivers who showed up in Jacksonville "considered it such a success that the group plans to reconvene in another week or so in Arizona for two weeks of intensive workouts."
No word on what, if anything, Orton has planned.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: February 10, 2011 5:36 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 6:04 pm
Posted by Andy Benoit
Posted on: October 17, 2010 6:23 pm
Posted by Will Brinson
Welcome to the NFL, Tim Tebow! Sure, the much heralded Broncos rookie hasn't been able to crack the depth chart, and sure, Kyle Orton is putting up unholy numbers and, sure, as Bomani Jones said, Tebow looks about as "slow as Christmas," but, hey, he scored!
In other rookie news, Demaryius Thomas just torched Darrelle Revis, so it's a really good thing that the Jets paid him so much money to stop wide receivers.