Tag:John Fox
Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:02 am
 

Tracking Tebow, Week 15: Learning experiences

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

By Ryan Wilson

Here's the deal with the new (old)-look Denver Broncos offense: there is virtually no margin for error. The run-heavy, read-option strategy works so well because a) the defense keeps games close, b) the offensive line is playing out of its mind, c) Tim Tebow and Willis McGahee might be the best backs-by-committee in the league, and d) Tebow doesn't turn the ball over.

Heading into Sunday's game against the Patriots he had just two interceptions and three lost fumbles all year. By the time New England left Denver with a 41-23 win, the Broncos had three turnovers -- all in the first half -- and that, coupled with a Tom Brady-led offense capable of capitalizing off said turnovers, proved to be the difference.


Tebow finished 11 of 22 for 194 yard, and added another 93 rushing yards on 12 carries, including two rushing touchdowns. Unlike the Lions game in Week 8 (the last time the Broncos lost, by the way), where Tebow looked thoroughly confused (and, incidentally, a week before the Broncos went all in on read-option football), the second-year quarterback continues to get better. And, really, that's all you can ask of your 24-year-old former first round pick: show improvement from one week to the next and do it while helping the team go 7-2.

But there are also signs that opposing defenses are beginning to get a bead on the offense that made Tebow a Heisman trophy winner in college. The question now, with two games left in the regular season and the Broncos trying to old onto the AFC West lead: Can Tebow's mastery of option football be enough to overcome its potential flaws? It's one thing for an opponent to know how to stop Tebow, it's something else entirely to actually pull it off.

The Patriots defense, among the worst in the league, was able to slow Tebow but they certainly didn't stop him. They were also the beneficiaries of Tom Brady's right arm (and, if we're splitting perfectly coiffed hairs, his legs -- he had a rushing touchdown for the first time all season).

As it stands, the Broncos are 8-6, a game up on the Chiefs and two games up on the Chargers, with two games to go. If they win in Buffalo and at home to Kansas City, they win the division. Otherwise, we'll have to rely on the nerds down at the nerdery to figure out the possible playoff scenarios.


                                                   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



"The core of what New England did was force Tebow to stay in the pocket and throw. Since he still possesses the accuracy of a malfunctioning Scud missile he was relegated to 11 completions and no throwing touchdowns," - CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman.

"Tebow mania, meet Brady Brass, and kindly kneel down and kiss the ring," - Yahoo.com's Michael Silver

"Personally, that's what I took that as. Because of the build-up between Tebowmania vs. Brady, I think he took that personally. And football is a personal game. I don't blame him for taking it personal. It was our job to keep him out of the end zone so he doesn't spike the ball." - Broncos cornerback André Goodman, explaining Brady's Gronkwoskian spike after scoring a touchdown.

"We did have things going pretty well early. We scored on our first three possessions, but then we put the ball on the ground, and that's something you can't do against a great team. You know Brady is going to make his plays. We've got to hang onto the ball. That's my fault, and I'll get that straight. With the turnovers, we were playing from behind a little bit.'' - Tim Tebow

"He's gotten better every week. Six or seven weeks ago people said that he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, but I think he does that. I think he can do that. I don't think that's why we lost the game tonight.'' - Broncos head coach John Fox


                                                   Audio-Visual



This is what makes Tebow Tebow-tastic:


Tim Tebow eludes several Patriots defenders to run for a 9-yard touchdown on the Broncos' first possession of the game.

At the other end of the spectrum, there's this…


Tim Tebow tries to extend the play but fails as the Patriots defense sacks the QB for a 28-yard loss.

For a glimpse at how Tebow has improved, here's a simple passing play from early in the game:

With the running game working so well early, the play-action fake (to #35 Lance Ball in this case) froze the linebackers, creating a window for Tebow to hit favorite target Eric Decker on a post pattern. As soon as the inside linebacker turns his head to drop into coverage, Tebow throws the ball at his left ear, finding Decker in the hole in the zone created by the run fake. He wouldn't have made this throw two months ago. 

"I feel like we've gotten better throwing the ball,'' Tebow said after the game. "We were able to do a lot of what we wanted to early, throwing the ball. We were right in groove, and we were able to do some good things. Then we got behind and were pressing a little bit.''

So how did the Patriots slow Tebow (other than by the "our offense is our best defense" strategy)?:

ESPN's Merril Hoge pointed this out Monday: New England hit Tebow repeatedly and on Tebow's only fumble of the game, which came on an option play (he could either keep it or pitch it wide left to RB Lance Ball), DE Mark Anderson had one job: run straight at Tebow and don't worry about anything else. That singular focus put him in the backfield before Tebow could get any closer to the line of scrimmage. It limited not just his time to make a decision, but his options. Tebow should've kept the ball; instead Anderson knocked it lose. Expect the Bills and Chiefs to do this too.


                                                   Eye on Tebow



Quite possibly the best incompletion in tackle football history. (Getty Images)

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Posted on: December 15, 2011 11:12 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Why Broncos will beat Pats

Tebow

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).

Brady, Tebow

Tebow7. 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.

M. Prater has won four games since T. Tebow took over (US Presswire).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: December 14, 2011 10:14 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 11:31 am
 

Film Room: Broncos vs. Patriots preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


It might just be the most anticipated matchup of the season: Tom Brady vs. Tim Tebow. One quarterback inspires because he has it all and wins, the other inspires because he has none of it and wins. Let’s break it down.


1. Evaluating Tebow
If you want a rehashing of Tebow’s quarterbacking strengths and (many) weaknesses, or an opinion on whether the Broncos should invest long-term in their unconventional “star”, or a theory about motivation and inspiration and divine intervention, hit the message boards or talk radio. The focus of this post is on what Tebow has shown on film the past few weeks.

In short, he’s getting better as a passer but still has a long ways to go. He’s been very good against Cover 2 looks. He made the Vikings pay for their frequent (and, frankly, mind-boggling) mistakes two weeks ago, and he conjured up several critical late-game completions the week after, when the Bears moved from man coverage to a soft Tampa 2 (where a few goofs by the secondary and a lack of pass-rush killed them down the stretch).

Tebow remains slow in the pocket – in terms of progressions, decisiveness and ball release – and he falls back on sandlot tactics if his first read is not there. This isn’t the worst thing, though, as he’s clearly proven to be clutch in this style. He’s very effective on the move, both as a scrambler and passer. He can extend the play with a unique Roethlisberger-like sense for avoiding and shedding pass-rushers.

But unless the Broncos can continue to win while averaging less than 20 points per game offensively, they’ll need more aerial dimension, progression reads and overall consistency from their young quarterback.

2. Denver’s run game
When offenses put a bunch of bodies on the line of scrimmage, the natural assumption is that they’re relying on sheer human mass to bulldoze the defense and clear a path for the running back. In actuality, what they’re often doing is creating more running options for the back. The more players there are along the line of scrimmage, the more gaps there are for the defense to worry about.

This is why you frequently see the Broncos bring a receiver in motion down to the tight end spot just before the snap; it’s not the receiver’s blocking prowess that the Broncos like, it’s that his presence expands the run front surface. Generally, the defense responds to this by matching players to gaps (in other words, crowding the line of scrimmage).

The brilliance of Denver’s zone-option run is that it forces defenses to crowd the line of scrimmage when there’s still the threat of a pass. Granted, this passing threat is weak – usually only two or three receivers run routes, and defenses are happy to see Tebow throw – but it’s not weak enough for defenders to completely ignore. Thus, they’re distracted ever so slightly from their run-stopping assignments.

More than that, the zone-option presents a myriad of run possibilities on a given play. The ball could go to Willis McGahee, fullback Spencer Larsen, a sweeping receiver or stay with Tebow. And with so many options, the ball does not necessarily have to follow the direction of the blocking scheme.

These are all factors that defenders must mentally process after the snap. That’s not how defenders are accustomed to playing the run.
Also, keep in mind, defenses do not generally account for quarterbacks in the run game; Tebow’s threat as a runner has a wildcat effect that gives the offense a numbers advantage if the D does not bring an eighth man in the box.

3. How the Patriots will defend the run
A smart, fundamentally-sound run-defending front seven can still stymie the zone-option. Usually, it takes two stud linebackers and two stud defensive ends. The Bears and Jets both had these resources and, aside from a play or two, they both shutdown the Broncos’ ground game. The Bears did it out of a base 4-4 (safety Craig Steltz played in the box all game); the Jets did it out of a base 3-5.

Whatever the defensive alignment, the basic principles are the same: the linebackers must see the field well enough to track the ball and identify gaps. More importantly, they must run well enough to catch up to the ball (because, as we’ve examined, defending the zone-option is strict assignment football, where the reads are more details-oriented than in conventional run defense). The defensive ends must have the physical strength to penetrate against one-on-one blocking, as well as the discipline to stay within the strict confines of their edge duties.

It’s unknown whether the Patriots will follow Chicago’s 4-4 scheme or New York’s 3-5 scheme Sunday. They’ve alternated between various defensive fronts all season. More pressing is whether the Patriots even have the personnel. Inside linebacker Jerod Mayo is elite, but whoever’s next to him is most certainly not (Bill Belichick has tried a litany of different players here). At left end, Vince Wilfork is obviously a monster.

On the defensive right side, Andre Carter has been outstanding at times, but he may not have the necessary size to trade blows with a left tackle like Ryan Clady for four quarters. If the Patriots go with a 3-5 approach, they may want to rotate massive youngsters Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick at end and use Carter’s flexible movement skills in space (ala Calvin Pace of the Jets).

Keep in mind, the Broncos have a sound rushing attack even without the zone-option. McGahee has a league-leading six 100-yard games on the season, and his front five is capable of winning one-on-one battles across the board. The Patriots got abused last week by a Redskins rushing attack that entered the game ranked 31st.

4. Back to the air
It’s entirely possible that Tebow and the Broncos will be able to move the ball through the thin Mile High air this Sunday. The Patriots’ pass-rush has been more “miss” than “hit” in 2011. Their secondary currently features a journeyman special teamer at strong safety (James Ihedigbo), a wide receiver and career-long special teamer at free safety (Matthew Slater) and another wide receiver at nickelback (Julian Edelman).

That’s the type of lineup you only see when someone is screwing around playing Madden.

If the Patriots bring Ihedigbo into the box, they’ll have to play either Cover 3 (zone) or man-to-man downfield. Because defensive backs must face inside when playing Cover 3, the way to attack them is with outside routes. Broncos wideouts Eric Decker and Matt Willis are effective on these patterns.

In man, cornerbacks must obviously stay with their assigned wide receiver. This season, Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty have simply not done that. Arrington improved his ball skills but has still been exploited. McCourty has been just plain porous.

5. Patriots previous blueprint for Tebow?
We’ve looked at how the Patriots might defend the Broncos offense as a whole. What about defending Tebow specifically? One player who is somewhat similar in style is Vince Young.

The Patriots devised a shrewd gameplan when they faced the Eagles backup in Week 12. Using a mix of 3-4 and 4-3 looks, they focused on keeping Young in the pocket, forcing him to be a passer. They did this by jamming his tight ends and wing/flex receivers with defensive ends and blitzing linebackers.

That disrupted a lot of Young’s quick outlet throws and forced him to make reads downfield. When Patriot blitzers did actually go after Young, they always came from the front side. That way, Young would see the blitz and instinctively scramble to the backside. On that backside would be a defensive end in containment.

At the end of the day, this approach generated three sacks and 21 incompletions for the Patriots defense.

6. Other side of the ball
Even though Tebow has been at his most comfortable throwing against Cover 2, the Patriots would presumably love to play that defense often this Sunday, as that’s the tactic they tend to fall back on when protecting a big lead. The reason Tebow has not had to put together four good quarters of even semi-traditional quarterbacking during this six-game win streak is because no team has managed to jump way out in front against the Denver defense.

New England will certainly look to change that. Expect some form of hurry-up early in the game. Even if playing with a lead weren’t extra important this week, Tom Brady would still come out throwing, as it’s difficult to run against Denver’s base 4-3 (their tackles Broderick Bunkley and Marcus Thomas hold ground well, and their linebackers all cover ground well).

Most offenses would prefer facing Denver’s nickel D. It’s a much easier group to run inside against, and the revolving door at No. 3 slot cornerback has been a weak spot for the Broncos since Day One. The Broncos will likely use their nickel D against the Patriots’ base 12 offense (one back, two tight ends, two wide receivers). This will make John Fox’s group somewhat vulnerable to the run, but Fox would rather see Brady handing off than throwing.

Because so much of New England’s offense is horizontal, it’s important for a defense to have as much speed at linebacker as possible. In this sense, nickel linebacker Wesley Woodyard is better suited than starter Joe Mays. What’s more, in nickel, the Broncos can go with three downlinemen and create more space for their excellent inside blitzers, Von Miller and D.J. Williams.

Generating pressure inside is a must against Brady. The only way to disrupt him is to move him off his spot and make him play frenetic. The more Brady moves, the less likely he is to throw between the numbers. That’s critical, as these statistics show:

                            Tom Brady 2011 Passing Stats
          Between the Numbers         Outside the Numbers
   COMP %
                  73.4                     54.7
    YPA                   9.44                     7.31
  QB Rating
                 118.2                     86.8

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 15 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
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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Posted on: December 12, 2011 1:40 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 1:56 pm
 

Tracking Tebow, Week 14: Transformation continues

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

By Ryan Wilson

Week 14 Tim Tebow looks nothing like the quarterback we saw in Miami on October 23. Let's be honest: when he made his first start against the Dolphins in Week 7, he was a curiosity, a sideshow that brought out the gawkers and the critics.

We joked about this after the Jets win. Maybe we should give the new Denver helmet serious consideration...
In the seven games since, Tebow and the Broncos are 6-1, and have gone from early season laughingstock to AFC West leaders destined for the playoffs. It isn't all because of Tebow (everyone -- o-line, defense, special teams, wideouts, coaches -- has picked up their game in the last two months) but he's done his part, too.

And after Denver's most recent come-from-behind win, this time against the Bears, it's clear that Tebow is evolving into a legitimate NFL passer as well. No, seriously. A proper quarterback, who reads defenses, manipulates coverages, and gets the ball out accurately and on time (see the play-by-play below for proof).

We were blown away by Tebow's performance against Chicago, and his numbers belie just how well he played. For starters, he threw the ball 40 times. The last time he approached that many attempts was in Week 8 against the Lions, a complete and absolute throttling in which Tebow looked confused and outclassed.

In the subsequent five games -- all wins -- the Broncos stressed the read-option running game and used the forward pass only in cases of emergency. Tebow's attempt totals over that span: 21, 8, 20, 18, and 15. His completion percentages: 48, 25, 45, 50, 67.

On Sunday, he set season highs for attempts and completions. The reason: the Bears weren't going to let Tebow beat them with his legs. But also because the Broncos coaching staff clearly is comfortable with Tebow's progress as a passer. In the previous weeks, he struggled from the pocket, both with going through his progressions and getting the ball out on time. Against Chicago, he was decisive and poised, and most importantly: accurate.

(Also noteworthy: even when Tebow misses intended targets badly, he seldom throws interceptions. That can't be overstated in a league where turnovers equals losing.)

Yes, he was just 3 of 16 for 45 yards (with an interception) in the first three quarters against Chicago, which is pretty much the script for Broncos' games the last seven weeks. But this time was different. Tebow was throwing with touch and anticipation, except that his would-be receivers couldn't hold onto to anything. Maybe it was karmic payback for all those medicine balls Tebow had thrown in prior games, or perhaps it was God's way of ratcheting up the drama for a fourth-quarter run that has now become a cliche.


Whatever the explanation, with the Broncos trailing by 10 points and with sufficient time having expired in the final quarter, Tebow got down to doing what Tebow does. He was 18 of 24 for 191 yards in the final period, including a nifty touchdown pass that shows just how far he's come as an NFL passer.

On this TD pass with just over two minutes to go in the 4th quarter and the Broncos trailing 10-0, Tebow drops back, looks left, then comes back right. He steps up in the pocket, looks as if he's going to run (and draws in the two defenders in pass coverage in the process) and then calmly throws to a wide-open Thomas in the back of the end zone. That's a big-boy play. (Watch the Xs and Os of the play here.)


                                                   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



"He’s a good running back. He does a good job for them. They have a good offense with him back there. They do some different plays. I thought we did a good job overall." - Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, talking about Tebow who, by the way, was 21 of 40 for 236 yards and only rushed 12 times for 49 yards.

"He played hard. I respect a guy that plays hard, him and all the other 10 guys on that field for the Broncos." - Bears linebacker Lance Briggs

"It wasn't anything special that he did." - Bears defensive end Julius Peppers

"Everyone believes that something good's going to happen. And, obviously, Tim's been the guy that's led that thinking. He's just such a strong believer. He's really got everyone else believing if you stay strong, stay positive, something good's going to happen. When guys are thinking that way — and it's been led by Timmy with that positive attitude — all boats have been rising with that." - Broncos executive VP John Elway, former Tebow doubter.


                                                   Audio-Visual




Tim Tebow led another comeback victory, and Matt Prater's 51-yard field goal with 8:34 left in overtime gave the Denver Broncos a 13-10 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.


Tim Tebow led another comeback victory, and Matt Prater's 51-yard field goal with 8:34 left in overtime gave the Denver Broncos a 13-10 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

And if you want to experience two totally different post-game press conferences, here's John Fox and Lovie Smith A.T. (After Tebow, natch).


                                                   Eye on Tebow



(Click on photos to enlarge)


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Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:10 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 7:11 pm
 

John Elway now Tim Tebow's biggest supporter

Elway on Tebow: 'There’s nobody more supportive or wants him to be that guy than me.' (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Tim Tebow is 6-1 as the Broncos' starting quarterback this season. It's something nobody expected, especially head coach John Fox and team executive vice president John Elway. After starting the season 1-4 with Kyle Orton, Denver is now 7-5 with Tebow and in first place in the AFC West. There's every reason to believe that the Broncos will finish the season 9-7 or 10-6, which means a trip to the postseason, but out of range to land one of the franchise quarterbacks (Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, Robert Griffin III) early in the first round of April's draft.

We have this theory: Denver will instead sign some veteran quarterback off the free-agent scrap heap, announce that he'll compete with Tebow for the starting gig in 2012, and the six weeks of next season will resemble what we saw this season. Namely: the conventional drop-back passer will struggle in Denver's system and by the middle of October, Tebow will return to the lineup and the Broncos will promptly start winning.

But like we said, that's just a theory. One that's based on comments Elway made last month. Comments, by the way, that have since been clarified (more on that in a second). In late November, during a weekly radio appearance on a local Denver station, Elway was asked if he was "any closer to feeling if you have your quarterback on this team."

"No," he said after a pause. "I think obviously he's making progress week in and week out. When you look at our third down numbers, those have to improve. I mean, that's the bottom line. We can't go 3-for-13 and win a world championship. Those are the type of things we have to keep improving."


The Denver Broncos have won their last five straight games and hope to make it six as they host the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon. Who has the advantage in this matchup? Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game.

A week later, in an interview with CBS Sports' Shannon, Tebow was asked if he felt the organization was committed to him.

Sharpe: Do you believe this organization is 100 percent behind you?
Tebow: I believed that I am very blessed to play for this organization.
Sharpe: That wasn't the question I asked you -- whether or not you were blessed. I asked do you believe John Fox and John Elway 100 percent believe Tim Tebow is the guy that's going to get them back to winning championships?

A day after the interview aired, Elway spoke publicly about his remarks regarding Tebow.

"I was surprised in the fact that people took it to be a negative answer, and it really wasn't a negative answer," Elway said during a November 28 radio appearance. "That's where I was taken aback. It wasn't meant to be a strike at Timmy at all. It was just a reality check of where we were at the time, and it wasn't a negative because I tried to follow it up with all the positive things we were doing and tried to point out some things we needed to get better at."

Elway admitted that he needed to do a better job "communicating the message" and said the situation is "something I'll learn from."

And learn he has. In an interview with FoxSports.com's Alex Marvez, Elway may still be hesitant to proclaim that Tebow is the franchise's future, but he sees enough potential in the young quarterback that he's planning to work hands-on with him during the offseason. (We're guessing no one in the organization has had such conversations with Brady Quinn.)

“Do I know where that ceiling is? I hope that ceiling is a mile high,” Elway told Marvez on Thursday from inside his executive vice president’s office at team headquarters. “It’s just hard to predict. I don’t have that answer right now. But there’s nobody more supportive or wants him to be that guy than me.”

Tebow, who has yet to utter a controversial statement publicly, said the idea of working with Elway was "exciting."

“When you don’t have a coach helping you, it’s tough sometimes,” Tebow said “Every quarterback coach you’re working with always has great things to add. But when you’re dealing with a Hall of Famer and someone who has played the game at such a high level, he’s going to give you unique points of view.

“Situational football to fundamentals to whatever it is — that’s something he’s gone through at a crazy-high level. He can share information that not a lot of other people have.”

So what does Elway think Tebow needs to work on? Surprisingly, it's not the long wind-up (think Byron Leftwich without the arm strength).

“I don’t believe you change a throwing motion," Elway said. "I do believe you can really help your accuracy by your feet. That’s where, to me, Tim has so much upside. He’s improving. It’s just a matter of getting it burned into his reactions and mind.”

And that's the thing: if Tebow can improve his accuracy and understand what he's supposed to do from the pocket (where he struggles to decipher defenses and quickly go through his progressions), he could be really good. It would also mitigate the need to lean heavily on the read-option, a successful short-term strategy that could go the way of the wildcat before long.

No, we never, ever thought we'd write the words "really good" in relation to Tebow, NFL quarterback, but he's proven us wrong. And we're okay with that.

For now, the Broncos are concerned about one thing: maintaining their lead over the Raiders in the AFC West. And we need to revise our theory.

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Posted on: December 7, 2011 6:26 pm
 

Is Tim Tebow the Denver Broncos' MVP?

Tebow shouldn't be an NFL MVP candidate but he's certainly in the running for team MVP, right? (US PRESSWIRE/AP)

By Ryan Wilson

If Philip Rivers has been one of the league's most disappointing quarterbacks on one of the league's most disappointing teams, Tim Tebow has been just the opposite. What he's done has taken everybody by surprise, including head coach John Fox and Broncos executive VP John Elway.

Yes, Tebow has benefitted from an improved Denver defense, and more importantly, a revamped offensive game plan that predates the forward pass but spotlights Tebow's strengths: running the option (with an emphasis on "running").

Tebow's had so much success in such a short period of time that in two months the conversation has gone from "Might as well let him play, the Broncos are 1-4" to "Holy crap, Denver's 6-1 with Tebow under center!" to "Should Tebow get MVP consideration?"

The MVP talk might sound like the ramblings of a mad man, but it's gained traction in the media. We even brought it up on Monday's Pick-6 Podcast and discussed it again during Wednesday's expert live chat.

And while most folks (us included) don't think Tebow is MVP material, he's certainly worth of team MVP consideration, right? Along with our CBSSports.com colleague Will Brinson, we came up with a short list of Broncos players in the running for the award (in random order):

* Tim Tebow. The Broncos are 6-1 with him. His numbers are forgettable, although he does play better in the fourth quarter than he does in the first three, and his passing has improved marginally in recent weeks. Still, he ranks as one of the league's worst quarterbacks in terms of total value and value per play (as measured by Football Outsiders). But...

His intangibles make up for his physical shortcomings. Namely: the ability to inspire his teammates. Yes, this sounds like some hacky, new-age nonsense, and if we were talking about anyone other than Tebow that's exactly what it would be. But like a lot of things, Tebow's the exception.

* Willis McGahee. The Bills' 2003 first-round pick saw his career stall with the Ravens from 2007-10. In 11 games with the Broncos this season, McGahee is averaging 4.9 yards per attempt and is on pace for 1,200 yards (it would be the first time he eclipsed 1,000 yards in three years). An effective running game sets up everything else the Broncos want to do offensively and McGahee is a big part of that.

* Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller. Going by the raw numbers, the Broncos' defense is mediocre. They're also opportunistic (sorta like Tebow), which has been a big part of their success.

* Eric Decker. On paper, Demaryius Thomas should more valuable, but Decker is Tebow's favorite target as evidenced by his eight touchdown grabs. That's hard to overlook. Also worth noting: his 39 receptions are 21 more than the nearest receiver.

We could even add John Fox's name to the list. There aren't many coaches who would run a high school offense to fit their personnel. Of course, Fox didn't have much choice; the Broncos were dreadful the first five weeks of the season with Kyle Orton. And the Lions embarrassed Tebow when he tried to run a conventional offense. In evoluationary terms, Fox would have three choices: adapt, migrate or die. He adapted. And now the Broncos appear headed for the playoffs. Which explains why we're even entertaining thoughts of Tim Tebow, NFL MVP.

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Posted on: December 6, 2011 9:58 am
 

Tracking Tebow, Week 13: The Tebolution continues

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

By Ryan Wilson

When it comes to Tim Tebow, there's really not much left to say. As head coach John Fox pointed after the latest Broncos come-from-behind win, this time against the Vikings, "The guy knows how to win."

Two months ago, such remarks wouldn't have been much different from all the other post-victory-glow cliches we're usually beaten about the head with. But now, with Tebow 6-1 as Denver's starter, and the Broncos atop the AFC West, Fox speaks the truth. There is no logical explanation for the team's sudden turnaround let alone Tebow's success but after witnessing miracle after miracle most of us now take it on faith that some way, some how, the Broncos are going to win and Tebow will do his part. Ironic, we know.

Unlike previous weeks, Tebow matriculated the ball down the field with his arm, not his legs. He had just four rushes for 13 yards, something you might expect from a prototypical NFL quarterback, not a guy whose legend was built on his ability to tuck and run. Not against the Vikings, who seemed intent on keeping Tebow in the pocket and forcing him to put the ball in the air.


He did just that 15 times, completing 10 throws for 202 yards. Adjusted for conventional NFL QBs, that works out to about a 500-yard passing day. Tebow also threw two touchdowns and it was his fifth straight game without an interception.

We can chuckle all we want about Tim Tebow, glorified H-back, but the Chiefs and Bears would love to have him right now. Nothing he does on the football field is pretty but there's no denying that he's efficient. No one -- not even Tom Brady, former 199th pick who cries when he's reminded of his draft-day free fall -- gets more out of their abilities. Because, realistically, Tebow should be a blocking back. He should be playing on the coverage and return units. He should be on the roster bubble every preseason. And yet here he is, doing what he's done since high school: winning.

He's converted an entire country of doubters, and more importantly, he's convinced John Fox and John Elway. Now, with a month left in the regular season there's no reason to think that the Broncos won't win their division. That, folks, is the Power of Tebow (and the benefits of having an easy schedule relative to the Raiders).


                                                   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



"I know that everyone wants to know, but our future is right now. When you look at where we are, the future is the Chicago Bears. We've got three out of four at home, and we're coming off five out of six wins, so we're excited to come home. - Broncos president John Elway, on his weekly radio show, answering a question about whether Tebow's performance means he's the team's long-term quarterback.

“Walking out of the tunnel yesterday (in Minnesota), somebody had farted. We’re walking down, this is right before the game starts, and [head coach John Fox] is like, ‘Man, somebody’s nervous.” - Broncos punter Dustin Colquitt offering an example of why Fox is a players' coach and always knows exactly what to say.

"There were a lot of questions on the outside (about Tebow). Sometimes it gets built up like they were on the inside, but the one thing I will say is the guy wins. He does it with his feet, he does it with his arm. He's young, he's just going to get better." - Head coach John Fox

"I've definitely seen that a couple times from No. 15. When I hear all those ESPN commentators say, 'He can't do this,' I laugh. After the game, I whispered in his ear, 'Let 'em keep hating. Keep 'em hating on you.'" - Vikings wide receiver and Tebow's former teammate at Florida, Percy Harvin


                                                   Audio-Visual




Tebow used to struggle with deep throws, even the wide open ones. That was a non-issue against the Vikings.


At this point, nothing surprises us with Tebow. He does it so often everybody expects it. Put differently: we're believers now!


Yes, Tebow is a beneficiary of a good defense, but he also plays better as the game progresses. 


                                                   Eye on Tebow




Tim Tebow at terminal velocity rips the helmets off unsuspecting opponents. 

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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