Tag:John Fox
Posted on: January 17, 2012 10:30 am
Edited on: January 17, 2012 10:31 am
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Tracking Tebow: And so it ends…until next season

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

By Ryan Wilson

The Broncos' run ended ingloriously Saturday night, 97 days after Tim Tebow replaced Kyle Orton at quarterback. Denver went 8-5 in those 13 weeks, a stretch that included six straight wins followed by three straight losses, which preceded a "didn't see that coming, did you?" offensive explosion against the Steelers in the wild-card round of the playoffs.

But the Tebow aerial assault was fleeting; New England wasn't going to let Tebow do to them what he did to an aggressive Pittsburgh defense. Instead, they mixed their coverages, generated pressure with four and five rushers, kept Tebow contained in the pocket and generally made his Saturday night a miserable experience.

But the setback is temporary; after the Broncos started the season 1-4 with Orton, no one expected them to make the playoffs much less win the AFC West. And yet they did, with an unconventional quarterback running a college offense. And guess what? Denver's ready to do it all again next season, too.

As soon as the Broncos' season was over the speculation began on Tebow's future as an NFL starter. On Monday, team vice president John Elway announced that Tebow had "earned the right" to be the team's quarterback heading into training camp and the hall of famer plans to play an active role in Tebow's development.

"There are things that I can add," Elway said. "Where I can help him ... I'm looking forward to it."


Elway's right -- Tebow has earned the job -- but if the organization is truly committed to him (and we're not convinced they are long term) then that means building the entire offense around one person, right down to a backup quarterback proficient at running Tebow's brand of option football.

If it seems extreme, think of it this way: what happens if Tebow goes down? Denver's offense suddenly reverts to its pre-Tebow playbook? And the remaining starters -- all of whom have spent months practicing the option offense, will suddenly be expected to run a conventional offense? In the middle of a game? That ain't happening.

The downside: if Tebow falters next season and the Broncos decide they'd prefer to run a more conventional system run by a more conventional quarterback, then for the second time in as many offseasons they'll be rebuilding the roster based on a new offensive philosophy.

So, yeah, it's a risk. But this is the same team that went with Orton out of training camp and won once in the first five weeks of the season. Tebow, even with all his flaws, fared much better.

And now with an offseason to work on, well, everything, it's reasonable to think that he'll be a lot better in August than he was in January.


                                                   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



"Kind of like our football team, I was really proud where he started and where he brought this team. We are a work in progress. We have got a lot of work to do and that hasn't changed, you know, for some time. And as I mentioned earlier, you know, the two matchups we had against the New England Patriots, I think it is evident that we have work to do."  - Head coach John Fox on Tebow's overall performance this season

"A lot of ups and downs. Overall it's been a very special opportunity for me, something I've very thankful for, very thankful I had the opportunity to build some of the great relationships with teammates and coaches. We've overcome a lot of different forms of adversity, to win some special games, to have great memories of last week and to be able to get into the playoffs. There's a lot of things we are proud of, even though it's hard to see that now.  " - Tebow, after the game Saturday night

"Tim has earned the right to be the starting quarterback going into training camp next year. He made some good strides." - John Elway, executive vice president of football operations


                                                   Audio-Visual




Instead of playing press coverage, the Patriots often disguised their looks. Whatever happened presnap, the outcome was usually the same: contain Tebow, make him hold the ball, and win your one-on-one matchups. Here Tebow is sacked for an 11-yard loss.

(Note: click to englarge photos.) One thing Tebow will have to get better at: reading defenses and going through his progressions. In this play that ultimately led to a sack, Tebow stares down his receiver to the right. By the time he finally looks for other options, it's too late, the pocket has collapsed, and he's taken down. The receiver to the left is open, Tebow just never looks his way.


                                                   Eye on Tebow



Jan 14, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) on the field after the game against the New England Patriots in the 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Broncos 45- 10. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 8:54 pm
 

Who would want to compete with Tim Tebow?

Who would even want to compete with Tebow? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Monday, John Elway said at his season-ending press conference that Tim Tebow "earned the right" to go into the Broncos 2012 training camp as the starter. He also said that the Broncos will "obviously be in the market" for more quarterbacks.

But here's my question: Who wants to come to Denver and compete with Tebow?

That's not to say it's impossible to beat Tebow out for a starter's role, of course. It's not -- Kyle Orton did it in 2010. And Elway believes someone will be willing to compete against Tebow. Or at least that if there isn't anyone willing to do so, then he shouldn't be in Broncos camp.

"If he’s afraid to come in and compete for that job, maybe he’s not the right guy," Elway said Monday.

Here's the problem though: the deck is absolutely stacked against any of the available free agents that could come in and reasonably and/or rationally be considered a starter for Denver.

For starters, the would-be competitor has to be willing to consent to life as a backup. Even though they will be technically be involved in a competition, whoever signs in Denver is going head-to-head with a quarterback who just won a division title.

That quarterback happens to be a fan favorite, and therein lies the biggest problem: the fans.

Elway and John Fox can preach about ignoring what their constituents say all they want. The fact is that after relegating Tebow to third string, a 1-4 start and an enormous fan outcry (including the purchase of billboards instructing Fox how to do his job) prompted them bring in Tebow and give him run as a starter.

How'd that run work out for Orton? Not well -- he was routinely booed and generally reviled by Broncos fans. That he played poorly isn't even beside the point. It is the point, especially if you're the guy looking to compete with Tebow in 2012.

Win the job out of training camp because you play the quarterback position better than Tebow? Welcome to the shortest leash of your life, not to mention the most unfriendly homefield circumstances in NFL history. No one wants that, especially if it comes after the success.

And that's without pointing out how hard it'll be for Denver to even get someone decent into camp: the list of free-agent quarterbacks this offseason is abysmal at best.

Alex Smith, Matt Flynn, Jason Campbell and Orton are the headliners. Maybe someone beatdown and desperate like Chad Henne or Kyle Boller makes sense, but those guys have had their chance and they weren't as effective as Tebow, on teams with better weapons.

The Broncos aren't within range of grabbing an elite quarterback prospect; if they could trade up to grab Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III or even Ryan Tannenhill, it'd be a clear indication they're moving away from Tebow.

They're not doing that. No one thinks they are anyway.

Although the way that Elway and John Fox continually backpeddle, use vague language and strive not to support Tebow might lead some observers to believe they're actively rooting against him.

Whatever, if they want him to fail that's fine. Whether or not Tim Tebow succeeds has no bearing on the Broncos ability to land another viable quarterback for 2011. It's just not going to happen.

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 11:27 am
 

Report: Dolphins to interview Denver's Mike McCoy

Miami will reportedly interview McCoy on Monday. (US Presswire)
By Will Brinson

Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy's name shot up coaching candidate lists after a season that saw him turn Tim Tebow and an unconventional offense into a division winner. And according to multiple reports, he'll interview with the Dolphins for their head-coaching position on Monday.

Both the Miami Herald and NFL Network report that McCoy will head to South Beach for an interview.

McCoy's worked under John Fox with the Carolina Panthers for several years before taking the offensive coordinator position under Josh McDaniels in Denver beginning in 2009; he was retained when Fox replaced McDaniels in 2011.

In his three years in that position, he's authored the league's No. 1 ranked rushing offense (2011) and a passing offense that ranked in the top 15 in passing yards twice (2009, 2010).

Perhaps most impressive about McCoy, who's just 39, is what he's done with limited resources. The Broncos traded away Jay Cutler before the 2009 season and under McCoy, Kyle Orton still threw for more than 3,500 yards in two consecutive seasons. After the Broncos traded Brandon Marshall following the 2009 season, Brandon Lloyd became a Pro Bowler.

And, of course, in 2011, McCoy re-engineered the offense in the middle of the season to fit Tebow's skills and helped Denver win a division title.

When the Dolphins struck out on landing Jeff Fisher Friday, they began turning to other candidates. Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's a hot name in South Beach right now, Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin could get a second interview and according to the Herald, Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael has been "discussed internally."

If the Dolphins are truly looking to become a potent offensive team, McCoy could very well be their best choice.

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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 11, 2012 2:40 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 9:40 pm
 

Film Room: Patriots vs Broncos divisional preview

Will Gronk get his Gronk on this time around? (Getty Images)
Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

It was assumed the Patriots would draw a rematch in their divisional round playoff opener. However, most figured that rematch would be of their Week 8 bout with Pittsburgh, not their Week 15 bout with Denver.

Here’s the breakdown of what could turn out to be the highest-rated divisional round Saturday night game of all-time.


1. New England’s plan for Tebow
Something to keep in mind is the Steelers had a sound gameplan last week, playing man coverage and using a tepid pass-rush to ensure that Tim Tebow stayed in the pocket. What the Steelers didn’t count on was Demaryius Thomas being able to get by Ike Taylor and Tebow being able to pull the trigger on downfield throws. Those two young ’10 first-rounders both had career days.

The Patriots might bet that the two youngsters can’t do it again.

On the one hand, that’s a smart bet given that Thomas and Tebow were inconsistent all season (Tebow especially). On the other hand, it’s foolish given that cornerback Kyle Arrington – who would draw the Thomas matchup, as Thomas almost always lines up on the favorable side of the left-handed Tebow – is not half the cover artist Ike Taylor is, and given that logic says if Tebow can win against the man coverage of the league’s best pass defense, he can surely win against the man coverage of the league’s worst pass defense.

In the last meeting, the Patriots played predominant Cover 3 in the first half:

The Broncos had success throwing skinny posts to Tebow’s left against the Patriots Cover 3 defense in the last meeting. Cover 3 is what you’d guess it is: three defensive backs each responsible for a third of the field. Because there is so much field to cover, the outside defensive backs often play man-to-man concepts (as Devin McCourty is doing on the right side). Cover 3 is something defenses play when they blitz or when they want to force a quarterback to throw (it’s the default zone coverage behind an eight-defender box).

In this example, the Patriots were clearly baiting Tebow to throw. Notice there are only five rushers (which is hardly a blitz considering Denver has seven guys in pass protection – the idea was to keep Tebow from scrambling). Also notice how linebacker Dane Fletcher has his back to the quarterback and is running towards the left passing window. (Fletcher was late getting there; Tebow did a good job recognizing the coverage and getting the ball out quickly. The result was a 22-yard completion to Eric Decker.)

The Broncos used great routes for beating this anticipated coverage, but Tebow was unable to connect on some of the throws.

Still, throws against Cover 3 are easier than throws against quality press-man, as long as the pass protection holds up. Denver’s protection was tremendous last week.

If tackles Ryan Clady and Orlando Franklin (who may need some help on the right side) can keep speed-rusher Mark Anderson at bay, the Broncos will be golden. (Keeping a backup like Anderson at bay may not sound difficult, but the former Bear was actually very disruptive in the last meeting.)

2. Stop the run!
The Patriots gave up 167 yards rushing in the first quarter of the Week 15 contest. They wound up winning the game handily, but they were on the fortuitous side of a few fumbles.

Common sense says you can’t bank on having success with such porous run defense. The issue last game was outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich’s inability to set the edge and the defensive line’s inability to prevent the Bronco linemen from contacting inside linebackers. This was a problem both with New England’s 3-4 and 4-3 fronts.

Nose tackle Vince Wilfork must stand out more this time around. The Broncos will be willing at times to block him one-on-one with J.D. Walton. The second-year center has been up-and-down (in a good way) handling tough solo assignments against nose tackles down the stretch this season. He was phenomenal against Antonio Garay of the Chargers in Week 12 but had been just so-so the previous week against Sione Pouha of the Jets. In Week 15 he held his own against Wilfork, but in Week 16 he got schooled by Marcell Dareus.
 
If Walton has a strong game, the Broncos can pound the rock inside. If he struggles, Denver’s at least capable of getting to the perimeter, though they’ll miss the fervid blocking of wideout Eric Decker.

3. Defending the Patriots tight ends
Greg Cosell, executive producer of the NFL Matchup Show, did an excellent job breaking down the Week 15 film back in December. Cosell wrote that the Broncos focused their coverages on Rob Gronkowski, successfully disrupting his timing by hitting him at the line of scrimmage.

However, that left fourth-round rookie safety Quinton Carter on Aaron Hernandez. Carter, like the rest of Denver’s safeties, is not great in man coverage, which Hernandez proved by posting what were at the time his career highs in catches (nine) and yards (129).

Though still a little green as a route runner (particularly against zone), Hernandez has the movement skills of a wide receiver. The Broncos may choose to defend him with rising rookie nickel back Chris Harris. That would leave safeties and linebackers to cover Gronkowski.

Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen may figure he can get away with that as long as coverage linebackers Wesley Woodyard and D.J. Williams are once again physical with the second-year superstar.

The Patriots’ counter to this would be splitting Gronkowski into a slot receiver position (likely in a spread 2 x 2 or 3 x 2 set), where he could line up a few yards off the line and operate against an overwhelmed defender in space. Even if the Broncos decided to sacrifice their run defense by going with dime personnel against the two tight ends, they still would be overmatched.

After all, just because Jonathan Wilhite is a corner doesn’t mean he can cover Gronkowski. This is the problem New England’s offense poses, this is why the Patriots are the No. 1 seed.

4. If lightning strikes twice ...
As the tight end analysis just suggested, the Broncos are faced with a very serious matchup problem that can only be solved by their players rising up and doing things no one thought they could do. It’s improbable, but as Denver’s offense showed last week, not impossible.

So let’s say for the sake of extra analysis that the Broncos can stop Gronkowski and Hernandez with their inside pass defenders. That leaves outside corners Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman on Wes Welker and Deion Branch (who did not play in the last matchup).

If the Broncos want to avoid the matchup problems that New England’s flexible formations create (such as Welker working against a linebacker in the slot), they’ll have to play man-to-man, with Bailey assigned on Welker and Goodman on Branch. Those aren’t bad matchups for either side – it would come down to who executes better (general rule of thumb, over the course of 60 minutes, put your money on the offense).

What we’re not considering is New England’s ability to run the ball. They’re not known for that, but against nickel or dime defense, they’re capable of controlling the game the old fashioned way.

Danny Woodhead has great lateral agility. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a steady, highly professional runner. Of course, he may lose snaps to the more dynamic Stevan Ridley, a third-round rookie who has come on as of late. The Patriots have an excellent run-blocking front five with LG Logan Mankins being a premier puller, RG Brian Waters a shrewd playside anchor, LT Matt Light a crafty angles-creator (including at the second level) and RT Nate Solder a ridiculous athlete out in front.

5. Broncos pass-rush slowing down?
Pass-rush pressure is always a prerequisite for beating Tom Brady. Lately, the Patriots have nullified it with an increased emphasis on three-and five-step drops. Brady is especially sharp at this when working out of an empty backfield.

The Broncos have not had the most fervid pass-rush the last month anyway. They sacked Brady just twice in Week 15. They got Ryan Fitzpatrick just once the next week and Kyle Orton once in the season finale. They got to Ben Roethlisberger in the wild card round but that’s a product of Roethlisberger’s style of play. Denver’s pass-rush did not control the flow of last Saturday’s game. Von Miller has had just one sack since his first game back from a thumb injury (December 11 at Minnesota) and has been less explosive playing with a cast.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all divisional-round games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:33 pm
 

Brady says McDaniels has 'inside information'

Will McDaniels be the difference in Saturday's Denver-New England game? (Of course not.) (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Oh boy. Tom Brady has gone and done it. During his weekly appearance on Boston's WEEI, the Patriots quarterback said that new (old) offensive assistant Josh McDaniels, who was hired over the weekend and began work immediately, "obviously has some inside information" on New England's opponent Saturday, the Denver Broncos.

On the surface, they're hardly inflammatory comments … except that some segments of the media have already questioned the hire for the very reasons Brady mentioned. The Denver Post's Mike Klis writes Tuesday that "Once again, Belichick has found a loophole in the rulebook by hiring McDaniels as an offensive assistant coach the week before the Patriots play McDaniels' former team. And the NFL has plugged its ears and covered its eyes to a move that would seem to at least violate the spirit of fair competition."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello explained the move thusly: "Teams in the playoffs can sign players."

Klis' response: "Yes, but playoff teams can't sign players from other teams. And a case can be made that in regard to the 2011 season, McDaniels' job should be finished."

And that leads us back to Brady's remarks:

“He obviously has some inside information on that team and those players, as he coached them. I haven’t seen Josh yet, so I really don’t know,” Brady said. “I think coach [Bill] Belichick has a pretty good idea of what he’s going to want Josh to do. I talked to Josh briefly but I really haven’t had a chance to sit down with him. He’s a great coach and we’re lucky to have him. I’m excited to get back to work with him. How that plays into this week, we’ll see. We’ll try to figure that out here in the next five or six days.”

But here's the thing: McDaniels got fired midway through the 2010 season for being pretty bad at his job. In '09, the Broncos started 6-0 before finishing 8-8. The next season, they went 4-12. And while Tebow was drafted on McDaniels' watch, the Broncos were still a season away from running the read option under John Fox.

Not only that, but the Patriots have already played -- and soundly beaten -- the Broncos this season without McDaniels' assistance. So whatever knowledge, inside or otherwise, McDaniels might possess, we can't imagine it will much affect the Pats' game plan.

The Post's Woody Paige feels differently.

"Belichick brought in Kid McCoach as an 'offensive assistant' just in time to interrogate him before the Patriots' rematch with the Broncos and 32 of McDaniels' players and nine assistant coaches from last season's team. The Broncos fired McDaniels on Dec. 6, 2010, because of failure as a coach (17 losses in McD's last 22 games), his poor player-people-press skills and, ultimately, the videotaping scandal that undid the franchise. …

"[McDaniels] can provide inside information and tendencies of players and coaches, especially the offensive coordinator he worked closely with, Mike McCoy. Some aspects of his old playbook passing offense were retained."

Yes, because the Patriots looked lost against the Pats in the Week 15 matchup they won 41-23. Tom Brady threw for 320 yards, tossed two touchdowns and ran for another. Tebow, meanwhile, was 11 of 22 for 194 yards with two rushing touchdowns and a lost fumble. We're quite certain that whatever insights McDaniels might have, occurred to Belichick and his coaching staff when they were preparing for the Broncos the first time.

Put differently: if McDaniels is so smart, he'd still be a head coach. Or at the very least, something more than the offensive coordinator for the league's worst unit.

Either way, Brady isn't so much concerned with what McDaniels may or may not know as he is with Denver's defense.

"Look, I’m thinking about Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil and Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey," he said. "They’ve got plenty of good players on defense for me to worry about. Just like last time, coach talks about doing your job. And there’s no better coaching point this week than for everyone to do their job, not only on the field but off the field, taking care of what you need to take care of so we can be at our best for the most important game of our season."

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Posted on: January 10, 2012 10:00 am
Edited on: January 10, 2012 10:01 am
 

Tracking Tebow: wild, wild, wild-card weekend

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

By Ryan Wilson

After three weeks off, Tim Tebow has returned with a vengeance that only God could appreciate. The Steelers' game plan against the Broncos was what everybody expected: stop the running game and make Tebow beat you with his arm. Because for as fantastic as the second-year quarterback had been for the floundering franchise, the reality was this: head coach John Fox and executive vice president John Elway appeared wholly uninterested in moving forward with Tebow as their starter, and it would surprise no one if they had already given some thought to who else might be under center in 2012 -- especially given how the final three weeks of the season unfolded.

But in typical Tebow fashion, defying logic and physics along the way, he proved that above all else, he's a winner. The Steelers were successful in what they sought out to do: shut down the league's best rushing game. It's just that they didn't account for Tebow's sudden mastery of the deep ball, nor did they expect cornerback Ike Taylor to have the the worst game of his career.

Pittsburgh crowded the line of scrimmage with eight players and left Taylor in single coverage on Demaryius Thomas all day. And all day, Thomas did what he wanted and Tebow had little trouble throwing on time and with accuracy. We joked about it on the most recent episode of the Pick-6 Podcast, but nobody -- Tebow, his family members, Urban Meyer, his high school coach, Thomas -- figured he'd be stroking it like he was Jeff George playing a pick-up game against a bunch of middle schoolers.


Will it last? Common sense says no because every expert proclaimes that Tebow isn't an NFL quarterback. But every time we doubt this guy, he proves us wrong. Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has a saying: "Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you." On Sunday, Tebow was a grizzly and the Steelers were salmon. But there's no way he can do that against the Patriots, right? Right?!


                                                   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



"We felt we had a good grasp of what they would try to do to us. They made more plays than we thought they were capable of making. We really hadn't seen that out of [Tebow] on tape." - Steelers linebacker James Farrior

"We saw on film that their safeties pressed [toward the line of scrimmage], so we knew we had to throw the ball to beat them. They were the No. 1 defense, so I feel they wanted to make a statement to stop the run. I don't know if they forgot about our passing game, or what. The past few games, we weren't passing the ball that great. They gave us opportunities." - Broncos wide receiver DeMaryius Thomas

"I think that's fair to say. We were down, but it was like a focus and very intense frustration that we wanted to get back on the field to show that wasn't us. I feel like our attitude and mind-set kind of grew all week. … We tried to be aggressive. I wanted to be aggressive and (offensive coordinator Mike) McCoy taught us to be aggressive, and guys really stepped up and made some great plays." - Tebow


                                                   Audio-Visual




Join CBS Sports' Jim Nantz and Phil Simms for a recap of all the action in Sunday's Steelers-Broncos game.


Denver quarterback Tim Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas for an 80 yard touchdown to send the Broncos to New England for the divisional round of the AFC playoffs as they beat the Steelers 29-23 in overtime.


(Note: click to englarge photos.)
Above is a breakdown of the Broncos' first touchdown, set up by the first of many deep balls from Tebow to Thomas. On the scoring play to Eddie Royal, Tebow sees that William Gay is in single coverage (first frame, rightmost arrow and that Ryan Mundy is playing centerfield (left-pointing arrow). Tebow knows now that he's going to Royal. But first, some post-snap manipulation of the Steelers' secondary. In the second frame, Tebow uses his eyes and shoulders to move Mundy to the left. In the third frame, he looks back to the right, throws on time, and finds Royal, who makes a great catch in the end zone. Mundy has no chance to help on the play. Presnap he was on the right hash, Tebow moved him to the left a few steps, and that was enough to give Royal a one-on-one matchup.


                                                   Eye on Tebow



DENVER, CO - JANUARY 08: Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos runs against Ike Taylor #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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Posted on: January 8, 2012 2:45 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 2:50 pm
 

Fox on Tebow: We expect him to play well vs. PIT

Fox sticks to the talking points: Tebow is Denver's starter ... for now. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Depending on who's talking, the Broncos have plans to feature backup quarterback Brady Quinn in certain situations during Saturday's wild-card game against the Steelers, and quite possibly insert him into the starting lineup should incumbent Tim Tebow struggle, something he's done during the team's three-game losing streak.

Earlier in the week, ProFootballTalk.com reported that Quinn had taken half the practice snaps in preparation for such an eventuality, Quinn refuted it through NFL.com, and then FoxSports.com's Jay Glazer said Sunday that the team will have a third-down package for Quinn against Pittsburgh.

During halftime of the Falcons-Giants game, FoxSport's John Lynch caught up with Broncos head coach John Fox to ask about facing the Steelers.


Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will go up against Tim Tebow and the Broncos on Sunday in this AFC wild-card matchup. Join NFL.com's Pat Kirwan and Jason Horowitz as they preview this upcoming game. Watch the game on CBS at 4:30 PM ET.

"Well, there a great defense, there's no doubt," Fox said. "We're going to have to have balance in both run and pass. And if we don't it's going to be a long day."

As for the Quinn-for-Tebow rumors, Fox offered this:

"We expect all our starters to play well, especially Tim," he said. "Tim's had a great week of preparation, Brady Quinn gets reps every week. He is our backup quarterback but, you know, we expect all our starters to play well and our backups to be ready."

So what have we learned? Not much, really.

Fox, as he's done for most of the season, refuses to provide direct answers about Tebow's station on the depth chart. Then again, that's his prerogative -- he doesn't have to. At some point soon, however, the team will have to make a decision on Tebow's future and that verdict could depend heavily on how he performs Sunday.

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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