"If you haven't played the game of football, you couldn't possibly understand."
--Ryan Leaf, 1998
One of my favorite blogs on the web is Shutdown Corner over at Yahoo Sports. They don't take football as seriously as your typical Oakland resident and they generally focus on the lighter side of today's NFL--always good traits to have. Recently, they brought us some hard-hitting information on the woman that charged $95,000 on Reggie Wayne's credit card, and previously waxed poetic on Jared Allen's mullet lifestyle. In short, the kind of stuff that is simply awesome.
My favorite thing they do, however, is to point out some rather interesting and controversial perspectives of athletes.
Which brings me to a recent quote from Aaron Rodgers. In the last few months, Rodgers has been feeling a little frisky (or upset that he was chosen behind Alex Smith?) and has hammered draft analysts like Todd McShay on his Twitter account for, in his opinion, not being well versed enough in the technical aspects of reading defenses.
Last week, as I was discussing the Broncos upcoming schedule, I made a comment that you hear from time to time:
Denver, humidity, and early games never mix.
"We'll know for the first time, if we're evil or divine."
We interrupt your regularly-scheduled Tim Tebow news, for an important announcement.
3rd downs matter.
In the 2009, the Denver Broncos were pretty far from okay. The team's lack of success on 3rd down was more than just a drive staler, it was the black plague of the Broncos season. Whether through the air or on the ground, rain or shine, throwbacks or alternative jerseys, the Broncos mustered a hideously and perfectly grotesque Raiders-like 3rd-down conversion rate of 36.18%.
3rd-down conversions are, like turnovers and field position, another critical marker of success in the NFL. In fact, the team that won the battle on 3rd down in 2008 and 2009 (512 games) won about 70% of the time. The only team that reached the playoffs last year with a 3rd-down conversion rate of less than 40% was the New York Jets. And they needed help to get there.
Every time Richard Quinn's name comes up, you begin to hear the same Greek chorus - "He's only a blocking back. He only caught 12 balls in college." The second statement is true. The first is up for considerable debate. What many people don't seem to know about Richard Quinn is that before he was a TE, he'd been a WR/TE in high school. He was a good one, too, and highly recruited. Sometimes you don't get the whole story when you only see headlines. Quinn is an unknown quantity to most Denver fans. That's going to change over time, and I'm betting that Broncos fans will like what they see.
I was chatting with another member this afternoon, and he mentioned his discomfort with the article in today's Denver Post on the 'It' factor. He brought up a few very legitimate concerns, too. I understand his feelings. I agree with much of it, too. I'll tell you the good side that I see, though, for whatever it's worth. Please bear with me - it covers a few different areas, but there is a point to the journey, I promise.
There are players who come into the NFL, seemingly immediately ready to take on the challenges of the game. You may find them in the 1st round or the 7th - you may even find them in the ranks of the undrafted college free agents. Regardless of where they are found, they all have one thing in common - they're very, very rare. Only a gifted few players are ready to contribute immediately. Most NFL teams will give even 1st round prospects 2 full training camps before even considering how well they might be working out for the team. The NFL game is bigger, faster, stronger and a lot more complex, and it takes most people time to figure it out. One of those players is Marquez Branson.
In the NFL in 2009, coaches were only successful using instant replay for challenges 32% of the time. While throwing those red (or sometimes pink) flags are good exercise for the rotator cuff, they don't often result in overturning a call on the field.
It took a few days, but I'm done grieving. Like a Raiders fan after another 4-12 season, I'm back for more.
You see, I've come to accept that Tim Tebow will be the quarterback of the Denver Broncos.
It may not be at the start of training camp. And it may not be in 2010. But it's coming. And much sooner than you think.
I've been one of the folks who would prefer a more balanced view of the Broncos newest quarterback. He's done some great things, and he has some weaknesses that are not minor issues. In the midst of all the laudatory arguments that seem to claim that the Broncos are now Super Bowl bound, I'd like to add some centrist reasoning. I'm hearing quite a few straw men arguments, and perhaps there's a middle road to be considered on that.
I tend to read and research quite a bit. Contrary to a recent post, I've heard very few people claim that Tebow 'wasn't accurate' in college. It's extremely important for the chances of future success that a QB making the leap from the college to the pro level to have a minimum of a 60% completion rate in college. Tebow's was well over that, and I haven't hear much in the way of comments that differ on this. College and the NFL, however, are vastly different. I have heard the criticism that he has trouble with accuracy on certain throws. That will or won't be true at the NFL level with the new throwing motion that he is trying to develop - certainly, there is a great connection between Tebow and McDaniels, and TT's in the best spot that he could be in that sense. He'll get the best help that he can to work on all throws.