Good Morning, Broncos fans! As another slate of NFL games chock-full of bone-jarring tackles approaches, another sobering article is here to remind us of the long-term consequences facing the players whom we'll soon be imploring to lay down a harder hit, or to get an extra yard or two for the benefit of our fantasy teams. Peter King and SI spoke with 39 of the 48 players (46 are living) from the Week 1 roster of the 1986 Bengals, and they of course found a wide range of maladies, from the aches and pains inherent of any physical sport or labor to the precursors of dementia and worse.
How these ex-players (gladiators?) look back upon their careers is similarly expansive, from CB Ray Horton's I'd do it again in a minute, to S David Fulcher's it wasn't worth it whatsoever, to TE Eric Kattus not wanting his own sons to take up the sport at all. If I have a son someday, I doubt I'd encourage him to play the game. Yet here we are...
On Thursday we covered Tim Tebow's stats through Week 13; today let's examine the full team's numbers and how they match up with the Bears. Of course, Chicago's offense will be without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, who have been responsible for 82.1% of the Bears' net offensive yardage but just 57% of their touchdowns. Chicago has also scored a combined six touchdowns on interceptions and Devin Hester's punt and kick returns. Marion Barber (five rushing scores) and Cutler's backup Caleb Hanie (two TD passes) round out their scoring. The absence of Cutler and Forte is sure to loom large tomorrow, but keep in mind that the following numbers were achieved largely on their broad shoulders.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Willis McGahee and Eddie Royal have been listed as questionable for tomorrow's game, while Ryan Clady, Von Miller and several others are listed as probable; only Royal is unlikely to play among that quartet. S Major Wright is out for Chicago as expected.
Naturally, the first matchup Chris Benson considers is that between the Bears' woeful offensive line and Denver's elite edge rushers (Von and Doom officially have 17 sacks, but PFF cites them as having combined for 20 - it's not a typo, but a disagreement between the official scoring and PFF's tracking), and he points out that too much attention paid to the Dynamic Duo could result in sacks for guys like Ryan McBean and D.J. Williams.
Benson wonders if the Broncos can win if/when their running game is completely shut down and reminds that last week was not an example of that, as much as the current narrative says Tebow beat the Vikings by airing it out. He thinks tomorrow could be the day we find out, thanks to the Bears' fine run defense.
Happy Friday Broncos fans! Jeffri Chadiha says the success of Tim Tebow is about more than timely plays on defense and special teams - rather he suggests it's matter of Tebow exploiting the disappearance of quality tackling at the NFL level. He also cites a lack of defensive discipline as evidenced by the Raiders' Week 9 (second half) debacle and Jets S Eric Smith's whiff on Tebow's game-winning TD run, and the shoddy play of Minnesota's secondary last week.
Chadiha thinks the case of Tebow and how John Fox and Mike McCoy catered the offense to match his strengths is all too rare in today's NFL, and he's baffled that other teams haven't done the same for their players - especially offensive coaches like Mikes Shanahan and Martz, who clearly don't have the tools at their disposal (QBs for Shanny, O-line for Martz) to run the offenses that won them rings.
These are all fair and interesting points, to be sure, as is his closing sentiment that Tebow's example is making everyone question their own long-held notions. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. When four of your six wins have come by four points or less and mostly against poor teams (after trailing for all but 93 minutes in total), it might be a little early to be talking about sea changes and epidemics of highly-paid entitlement and a lack of toughness. After all, it can easily be said that scheduling, injuries, and luck have played a large role in Denver's winning streak, even if luck doesn't fit into the red-meat/macho image of NFL football (more on that in a bit).
So, it turns out that Tim Tebow's 15 pass attempts on Sunday weren't enough for his 2011 stats to qualify for rate stats leaderboards, but that won't stop us from updating the numbers. Last week, Tim ranked 19th in ANY/A and 36th in NY/A out of 39 QBs with 100 or more pass attempts. Incidentally, Tyler Palko became the 40th passer to cross that threshold with his 30 attempts against Denver's upcoming opponent.
As one might expect, Tim's sparkling second-half performance in Minnesota served to move him significantly higher in both categories. This speaks to two factors: one, we're still looking at a relatively small sample size which can be easily influenced by a single game; two, his results Sunday were that much better than his prior ones.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Ben Stockwell went over each of Tim Tebow's pass attempts Sunday for PFF, and he calls it "Step 1 in Tebow’s maturation as a passer" but cautions not to overstate the quality of his performance. By "Step 1" he means that Minnesota sold out to stop Tebow's run threat and gave him just two or three different looks to decipher in the passing game, and of course that didn't work out so well.
Stockwell also writes that Tebow & Co. have become a tough group to game plan for in just a week's time, and he suggests that, provided Tebow is the QB next year, opponents having had a full offseason to cook up a defensive strategy for Tim could make for a different story. Either way, it's obviously great to see Denver described as a matchup problem offensively - something they haven't been in a very long time.
CBS and Robert Kraft won the battle to keep the Week 15 matchup between the Broncos and Pats at SAFaMH from being flexed to SNF. Instead, the country will be stuck watching Chargers/Ravens. Meanwhile, the team is without Ryan Clady, Willis McGahee and Eddie Royal today, while Von Miller has returned to practice.
It won’t happen again.
Not the part about Denver coming from behind to win another game - not only will it, but that’s becoming essentially de rigeur. Not the huge catches for Demaryius Thomas - I’d suspect that those will become pretty common too. No, it was the quote that Thomas left behind himself in the wake of his four-catch, 144-yard, two-TD performance.
They were playing cover 2. One safety would cover Deck on top because he's been our big receiver. They kind of forgot about me.
That’s a mistake that isn’t likely to come around again any time soon.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! How anxious is Matt Forte to get back onto the field for the Bears? Well, he's already turned to PRP injections (platelet-rich plasma) to help heal his sprained right knee, if that tells you anything. There's basically no chance Forte suit up on Sunday in Denver; so the Broncos will be facing the fearsome backfield duo of Caleb Hanie and either Marion Barber or Kahlil Bell, who's spent more time in scout-team duty than actually playing in Chicago's offense.
Quite a downgrade from Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, huh? Just goes to show that when looking at a fearsome schedule months in advance, any multitude of events can change its complexion when the games actually roll up. Just two months ago, Denver's schedule looked like a largely-winless gauntlet with the Broncos headed back for another top-five draft choice in April. But, an improved running game, the defense stepping up in a huge way (even last week, some key takeaways were mixed into the poor play) and the mostly turnover-free play of Tim Tebow, and a slew of opponents injuries has the Broncos appearing headed for the playoffs. But it's not just the Broncos' fortunes that have changed so drastically, as Chase Stuart points out. Remember how the Bills and Shanny were each back to relevance? Oops...