Tag:John Elway
Posted on: January 14, 2012 11:35 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2012 12:55 am
 

Is Tebow guaranteed to be Broncos starter in '12?

Tebow's season ends ingloriously in New England. (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

We joked last week, days after Tim Tebow threw for 316 yards (including an 80-yard pitch-and-catch to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime to beat the Steelers in the wild-card matchup), that the big losers coming out of that game were John Fox and John Elway. Because given the way Tebow threw the ball, there was no way either could go back on their earlier promise that he would be the team's starter in 2012.

New England throttles Denver
And while neither Fox nor Elway has explicitly said that they'd prefer a conventional quarterback running a convention offense, neither has come out and fully supported the guy Josh McDaniels selected in the first round of the 2010 draft, some seven months before he was fired.

Complicating matters, at least in terms of Tebow's tenuous hold of the starting gig: the option isn't quite the novelty of the wildcat, but it's also taken less time to crack. Whereas the wildcat required an offseason of film study before defenses were keen to what was going on, the read-option's run has been much briefer.

Denver decided to abandon their original playbook in favor of the offense that made Tebow a high school phenom and a Heisman Trophy winner. The results: a six-game winning streak to get the Broncos to 8-5. And then they ran into the Patriots before the Bills and Chiefs had seen enough film of the option to properly defend it. Denver scored 17 points in the final two weeks of the regular season and even the hardcore Tebow supporters were having doubts.

But then Pittsburgh happened; the Broncos' offense manhandled the NFL's top-rated defense and Tebow looked like a real live passing quarterback. His performance solidified his spot on the depth chart heading into 2012, especially since a) Denver had a playoff win for the first time since 2005, and b) Tebow would have the entire offseason to work with coaches on everything from reading defense to improving his footwork and accuracy.


Tom Brady threw six touchdowns passes, five in the first half, and put the New England Patriots into the AFC championship game after roughing up Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos 45-10. CBS Sports' Jim Nantz and Phil Simms have the recap.

Then Tebow reverted to his old form, throwing late and wildly in a lopsided loss in the divisional playoffs against the Patriots. By the time it was over, Tebow was 9 for 26 and suffered five sacks. And while he wasn't solely responsible for another sputtering offensive performance, he is the quarterback; if the running game isn't working, he has to make something happen through the air … except that if the Broncos aren't facing the Steelers, that's a problematic proposition.

Which leads us to this: will Elway and Fox reconsider their quarterback situation this offseason? We're guessing they have to. In fact, we've previously speculated that the next few months will go something like this: Tebow will be promised "a chance to win the job," the front office will sign a veteran quarterback to compete for the starting gig, and come training camp, there's a decent chance that said veteran will be given every opportunity to start.

We've seen this movie before -- last August. Tebow thought he'd enter 2011 as the starter -- the Broncos seemed to confirm as much -- right up until training camp when Kyle Orton was again atop the depth chart. Tebow didn't help himself with abysmal preseason efforts, but that's not his forte. He's at his best when he can improvise, something that doesn't translate well during meaningless preseason snaps against third- and fourth-teamers.

So, who are some early QB candidates? Here's the list of soon-to-be free agents:

* Matt Flynn. We've called him the next Kevin Kolb, which is wholly unfair because Flynn has actually played well as a backup. We can't imagine the Broncos go after him although if they do it's a clear indication that Tebow Time was a one-year deal.

* Alex Smith. Dude's benefitted from Jim Harbaugh's presence and the 49ers head coach says he wants Smith back in San Francisco. Smith will probably get some interest in free agency should he hit the market but his best chance at success is if he stays put.

* Jason Campbell. This seems reasonable. So much so that Campbell could return to Oakland and supplant Carson Palmer as the starter there.

* Kyle Orton. Stranger things have not happened.

* Drew Brees. If he doesn't get a new deal he's getting franchised, but we wonder if Tebow's most ardent supporters would concede that Brees would be a better choice.

Other names (courtesy of Footballsfuture.com):

Chris Redman (ATL)

Derek Anderson (CAR)

Shaun Hill (DET)

Drew Stanton (DET)

Brady Quinn (DEN)

Luke McCown (JAC)

Chad Henne (MIA)

Sage Rosenfels (MIA)

David Carr (NYG)

Mark Brunell (NYJ)

Kevin O'Connell (NYJ)

Kyle Boller (OAK)

Vince Young (PHI)

Charlie Batch (PIT)

Dennis Dixon (PIT)

Byron Leftwich (PIT)

Charlie Whitehurst (SEA)

A.J. Feeley (STL)

Josh Johnson (TB)

Rex Grossman (WAS)

The Broncos' offseason begins now and how things unfold in the next eight months are anyone's guess. But whatever fate awaits Tebow, it's worth remembering that he helped lead this team to the division title and a playoff win. That doesn't guarantee him the starting job, but despite his unconventional style, he's done something right.

"I was really proud with where (Tebow) started and where he brought this team," Fox said after the Patriots game. "You know, we're a work in progress -- we've got a lot of work to do, that hasn't changed for some time. And as I mentioned earlier, the two matchups we had against the New England Patriots it's evident we have work to do."

Fox was then asked if he'd bring back the read-option in 2012. 

"I think every year has its own personality," he said. "We're officially starting our offseason now and we'll do whatever it takes to get better."

And we believe Fox when he says this.

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Posted on: January 8, 2012 12:45 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 12:47 pm
 

Report: Broncos have 3rd-down package for Quinn

Denver reportedly has a third-down package for backup Quinn. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

All week long, there have been a litany of rumors that Denver would consider benching quarterback Tim Tebow if he struggles against Pittsburgh on Sunday, and inserting backup Brady Quinn into the game.

Quinn denied the rumors about receiving extra first-team repetitions in Broncos practice, but what else was he going to do? And Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported on Sunday that the Broncos have a specific third-down package designed for Quinn against the Steelers.

This package is, presumably, for cases when the Broncos end up in obviously third-and-long passing situations; though Tebow's had some success in 2011 passing the ball, he's not exactly going to keep a team like the Steelers honest in those scenarios.

Additionally, Glazer reports that the Broncos have a package prepared for both Quinn and Tebow, although there's no certainty that Denver will use it, particularly if Tebow is effective.

Finally, the Broncos are pretty clearly prepared to make a change if Tebow struggles. They've shown no real concern about yanking the former first-round pick around in the past, and the John Fox/John Elway combo hasn't shown too much concern about committing to the quarterback who got them to the playoffs before, aside from indicating he'll be on the roster in 2012.

Why would they start now?


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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: 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 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 22, 2011 3:10 pm
 

Top Ten with a Twist: NFL Twitter accounts

A. Foster's Twitter account is deep, interesting and funny (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

For the hardcore NFL football fan, Twitter is necessary. Sometimes, it’s a necessary evil -- slogging through your timeline to read what some players are eating for lunch or trying to get through multiple RTs of fans who want a shout-out from their favorite NFL star can be quite tedious.

But there are players and executives who get the Twitter thing. Those who can put together a nice one-liner or turn a delicious phrase or break a bit of news. It’s a nice way for NFLers to communicate directly with fans and either inform them or make them laugh. In this day and age, Twitter is important (as much as any social media can truly be important).

That’s why, for the second-straight season, we’ve put together a Top Ten with a Twist list on the best NFL player/executive Twitter accounts. These people brighten our day 140 characters at a time, and since much of Twitter is tasteless swill, these are the people who keep us coming back for more. And that is something to RT about.

10. Shawn Andrews (@imshawnandrews): He was my No. 1 selection on last year’s list, but after he was released by the Giants in the offseason, Andrews is out of football. His Twitter account, though, remains look-worthy. If you’re a foodie, Andrews is for you, especially as he tries to appease the weight-watching angel on his shoulder while ignoring the devil who wants him to binge. Recent tweet: These Chick Fil A Chicken Strips In The Mall Taste Like They Been Dipped In A Lil Fish Grease!!! I Like It!!!!! ***Crunch***

9. John Elway (@johnelway): You’ve got to love it when the executive vice president of football operations for the Broncos breaks news on his Twitter account about team signings and coach hirings. Elway has been more transparent about his team’s front office moves than anybody I can remember, and doing it on Twitter is a really smart way to keep the lines of communications open with Broncos fans. His in-season account hasn’t been quite as entertaining as it was in the offseason, but still, give Elway credit. It has been a novel idea. Recent tweet: Tim's doing a great job leading our offense, coming through when we need him the most. He's a winner who gets better every day.

8. Darnell Dockett (@ddockett): The Cardinals defensive end is the definition of the athlete who just doesn’t give a crap what he says or how it might affect him in the future. Which is what makes his account awesome. His best Twitter moment of the year came when he did real-time play-by-play of a traffic stop. His topper, though, was when he refused to allow the police to search his car, and they simply had to let him go. Dockett can be offensive, but there’s little doubt he’s entertaining.  Even if his obsession with hooking up with Oprah is a little disturbing. Recent tweet: I'm going to sleep I'm so tired! I'm gonna dream about @Oprah and them thick chocolate thighs tonight. We gonna get back together soon!

7. Greg Aiello (@gregaiello): A return to the top Twitter list for the NFL’s top PR spokesman. Aiello answers questions from fans in his brusque manner, and he saves scribes e-mail queries but releasing league statements directly to the masses. Plus, his mini-feuds with some scribes during the lockout were interesting to watch from afar, and his haikus are not to be missed. Recent tweet: No. Hemingway. RT @giantspathanlon: Haiku? RT @gregaiello: A man in a good mood as the sun also rises. RT beautiful sight as the sun rises!

6. Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay): You just won’t find an NFL owner who is so in touch with his fans (and maybe not an sports team owner anywhere outside Mark Cuban). Irsay is delightfully weird, posting deep album cut lyrics by classic rock bands, and he made multiple jokes about going after Brett Favre at the beginning of the year when it was clear Peyton Manning couldn’t play. Lately, he’s been less funny and more soothing to an upset fan base. That doesn’t make him any less delightful. Recent tweet: Woke up this morning,with an arrow thru my nose..there was an indian in the corner..trying on my clothes.... .He said "Get lost" and walked towards his Cadillac..and I chopped down that palm tree..and it landed on his back....” (editor’s note: it’s a Neil Young lyric)”

5. Chad Ochocinco (@ochocinco): The Patriots receiver was more fun when he was still a Bengals receiver, and he (we assume) wasn’t hemmed in by Bill Belichick. But he’s still funny and still outstanding to his fans. Somehow, during the worst season of his career, he’s become much more likeable. Recent tweet: I remember when @evelynlozada kicked me out of the house for cheating.......... She takes #Monopoly way to (f------) serious.

C. Kluwe poses for a picture (US Presswire).4. Faux John Madden (@fauxjohnmadden): For me, parody accounts are hit or miss. Mostly misses, actually. Faux John Madden hits much more than it misses, though. And when you’re crawling through your timeline on a lonely Friday night, that is much appreciated. Recent tweet: If you need something to keep you awake while watching this Falcons-Jaguars game.. Call Sam Hurd.

3. Jim Schwartz (@jschwartzlions): By far, the best NFL coach on Twitter (hell, off the top of my head, I can’t think of another coach who’s actually on Twitter). Mostly, he taps out updates of the Metallica songs he’s inputting into his head (or tweeting a picture of Raiders fans flipping him the bird), but you have to appreciate a guy who takes a little time out from watching film and game planning all day to remind us all what James Hetfield had to say in 1987. Recent tweet: #nowplaying on the way to Oakland stadium: Babylon AD "Bang Go the Bells", Metallica "Blackened", Deep Purple "Highway Star"

2. Chris Kluwe (@chriswarcraft): As his Twitter handle implies, the Vikings punter is big into role-playing games. So, you have to wade through some of that, but Kluwe makes his tweets so damn funny, it’s nearly impossible not to be entertained by his musings. He’s a guy who knows how to make great use of the hashtag. Recent tweet: Remember Saints fans, if you're planning on bringing feminine hygiene products to the game to throw at me, please ensure they are unused.

1. Arian Foster (@arianfoster): He’s not only one of the top running backs in the league, he’s also a Zen master on his Twitter account. Foster is one of the game’s most interesting thinkers, and his tweets aren’t the usual athletic bluster. They’re deep and interesting and funny. Which is why he’s the No. 1 NFL tweeter around. Recent tweet: I smile at our potential, but weep for our actions. May the light you see tonight fill your heart with what it needs. I love you all.

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 10:46 am
Edited on: December 21, 2011 10:49 am
 

Sarah Palin approves of Tim Tebow's message

Sarah Palin is digging what Tim Tebow is preachin'. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

We've been sitting here wondering what the Tim Tebow saga's missing. It's not a Saturday Night Live skit -- we've got plenty of those. It's not over-hyping from the media; we've got that. (And, yes, guilty. Whatevs.)

Perhaps it's a lack of opinions from prominent, low-end long-shot Republican Presidential candidates? No, Rick Perry already took care of that. OK, so the Tebow saga isn't missing anything other than some quiet time. But Sarah Palin commented on Tebow recently and gosh darnit, it's just too quotable to leave it alone. Sorry in advance.

"Oh you know I am so pro-Tebow," Palin said on Fox News. "You know, he is unashamed of his savior, Jesus of Nazareth. He knows that Jesus is going to rock your world when you give it all over to him and he's bold about it. And he knows that the son of God should be honored and praised and Tebow does that and I respect it."

First of all, let me just say that, you know, I get a real kick out of transcribing Sarah Palin quotes. Secondly, "Jesus will rock your world" would go well on a stenciled, tie-dyed t-shirt from Wings.

Or, alternately, it could be the celebration/slogan of "Not-Quite-Evil Tebow," the NWA Hulk Hogan version of Tim that will evolve when John Elway turns his back on the quarterback in 2017, only to have Tebow take over for the Los Angeles Jaguars who moved to the AFC West just a year before.

Wait, what are we talking about again?

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Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:59 pm
 

Merril Hoge admits he was wrong on Tim Tebow

Tebow is converting non-believers with each come-from-behind win. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Way back in in August, a week after the lockout ended and just days into training camp, ESPN analyst Merril Hoge spoke frankly about Tim Tebow's prospects as an NFL quarterback. Via Twitter, Hoge said "It's embarrassing to think the Broncos could win with Tebow!!" Later he added, "College credentials do not transfer to NFL raw raw [sic] speeches do not work! You must poses [sic] a skill set to play! Tebow struggle [sic] with accuracy!"

Tebow's response (also via Twitter): "Hey Merril, 'ppreciate that."

Four months later and not only is Tebow the Broncos' starting quarterback, he's 7-1 in the role, the team is on a six-game winning streak, and they're atop the AFC West by one game over the Raiders.

Turns out, college "rah rah speeches" do work in the NFL. And even Hoge can admit that now. During a Monday appearance on ESPN's Mike & Mike radio show, he owned up to his mistake.

"The lessons that (the Broncos) are showing (are) what sports are about. ... I've been obviously very hard on Tim Tebow, very critical of him as a quarterback and his skill set," he said.

"... I've been wrong on a lot of levels with (Tebow). I've lost the ability, or the opportunity, I should say ... to shed light on what an amazing story (about) how he has worked, persevered, changed -- his diligence -- all those things that you try to teach young people ... (what) sports are really about."

Tebow, we'd imagine, has already forgiven him.

As an analyst, it's Hoge's job to weigh in on players -- good or bad. And it's not like he was the only guy beating the "Tebow is really, really bad" drum. Just about everybody thought he had no chance to succeed in today's NFL with a style that is better suited for the college game. The widespread belief that Tebow was overmatched extended into November, after he was summarily dismantled by the Lions in his worst game of the season. The aftermath was particularly brutal.

An anonymous Detroit player told Yahoo.com's Michael Silver that Tebow was "embarrassing" and "a joke."

The post-mortem also included this from Hoge: "Watching last week's tape, the thing that was most disturbing was his ability to not understand where the ball has to go. His [lack of] awareness is mind-boggling to me." And CBS Sports' Boomer Esiason said that what the Lions did to Tebow “…means that there’s no respect for Tim Tebow as the quarterback. And they want to make sure that when they play him, they want to show that to the world that Tim Tebow can not play in this league at this position.”

Such sentiments have changed in recent weeks, and those who continue to pan Tebow do so reflexively and irrationally because as CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel wrote Monday, "…We can't [explain it]. Nor do we have to. Whatever Tebow is doing, and however he's doing it, it defies description. Beauty usually does."

Returning to Hoge's original tweets one more time, even Broncos executive vice president John Elway, also one-time skeptic, admits that Tebow has the uncanny ability to motivate his teammates to greatness.

During a recent appearance on 102.3 the Ticket in Denver, Elway was asked why he thinks the team rallies about Tebow (via SportsRadioInterviews.com):

“I think when you look at it I guess I just believe everyone believes that something good is going to happen," Elway said. "Tim’s been the guy that has led that thinking and he’s just such a strong believer. He’s got everyone else believing that if you stay strong, stay positive, that something good is going to happen. There’s no question that those things … that you really can’t explain that are happening are happening. It’s the power of the mind and the power of positive thinking."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com