Good Morning, Broncos fans! It all went according to plan yesterday, as Denver was able to exploit the Raiders' struggling run defense to the tune of 298 rushing yards, won the turnover battle (three Carson Palmer INTs to no Denver giveaways) and got a big special teams play in the form of an 85-yard Eddie Royal punt return to beat the Raiders 38-24 (box score). In other words, the Broncos finally turned the tables on Oakland and beat them at their own game, physically outmatching them for the first time in over two years.
Willis McGahee gashed Oakland for 163 yards and two scores, while Tim Tebow added 117 rushing yards and two sharp TD passes, one each to Eric Decker and Royal. Tebow took just two sacks and did not fumble, clearly playing better than he had against Detroit even if he still threw some brutal passes throughout the game; Tebow ended up with a 98.1 QB Rating for the game and is now 2-1 as a starter this year (3-3 for his career) with both wins coming on the road (Denver won only one road game last year, at Tennessee).
Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his column today, Dave Krieger suggests that Tim Tebow's window as Denver's starting QB is closing, and he points to a quote from Champ Bailey earlier in the week as proof that Tim's teammates don't believe he has the talent to make it in the NFL. Said Bailey,
You can be as competitive and have as much heart as possible, but if you don't have the talent for this league, it's hard to play.
Obviously, this line could be interpreted as being about the team as a whole or in general, but since he mentions heart and competitiveness, who do you think he's really talking about? Krieger also checks in with former Buff Kordell Stewart, who thinks Tebow is benefitting from a double standard of sorts in getting a chance to play at this point. Ultimately, Krieger thinks Tebow has to show marked improvement today or be replaced by Brady Quinn next week at KC.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! You know how John Fox never says anything at all when he speaks? Well, either this Tebow thing is starting to really get to him, or Sam Farmer of the LA Times has some embarrassing photos of Fox - because the coach was pretty blunt in responding to the recent criticism of Denver's game plans and playcalling (emphasis mine):
As a coach or decision-maker in an NFL building, you don't care what round they're drafted in, you don't care who drafted them. You don't care if they're short, fat, whatever. You just care: Can they play? So all that other stuff is poppycock. The problem is, there's so much misinformation. For people that study it, you'd see that we've probably had more shotgun or spread offense than anybody in the league over the last two weeks. We're up 30% of what we were in the first four games. The goofy thing is, it's almost like if he doesn't have success it will be anybody's fault but his. It's almost that kind of polarizing thing. They'll say it could be his supporting cast, or the type of plays. At the end of the day, we are what we are. We're doing everything we can to win, and we're finding out about a young quarterback, good, bad or indifferent.
Sounds like a coach who's pretty much fed up, perhaps even one who didn't actually want to play Tebow - because wouldn't he be speaking in a more protective manner than he does here, especially after just two weeks with Tebow at QB? Here's Doug Farrar's reaction to these same statements.
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Chris Benson previews Sunday's matchup in Oakland for PFF, and he writes that it's something of a must-win for both teams, as the loser will surely be faced with big questions about its QB in the aftermath. Will Denver stick with Tim Tebow if he doesn't show progress? Did the Raiders overpay for Carson Palmer? Benson also speculates that a loss for Denver could mean a shakeup in the starting lineup, and it's a fair point.
Benson says Oakland's fans likely won't be long on patience for their new QB given the ransom they gave up to acquire him, although he figures Palmer should do well against a pass defense that has struggled for almost the whole season. Unfortunately, Sunday has the potential to be another brutal day for Orlando Franklin, whose assignment will be to fend off yet another top pass rusher - this time LB Kamerion Wimbley, whom he was not able to contain in the opener (six hurries).
Finally, Benson theorizes that the reason for Tebow's success as a starter last year and apparent regression this season is partly a matter of opposing teams having a better idea of how to game plan him - playing him less like a passing threat and focusing more upon keeping him in the pocket. So, can the Broncos manage to run the ball efficiently if they're facing 8 or 9 men in the box? Will Tebow be able to make some throws against man coverage and soften up the Oakland defense? If not, it will be another long Sunday...
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Quinton Carter, Virgil Green and Cassius Vaughn did not practice yesterday, while Willis McGahee and Orlando Franklin were limited. John Fox says McGahee will only play Sunday if he's able to use both of his hands effectively.
Out in Oakland, RB Darren McFadden is still on crutches and in a walking boot, so don't expect him to play Sunday; rather, Denver can figure upon seeing a steady diet of Michael Bush, a RB many Broncos fans had hoped the team would acquire via FA. Also not practicing were LB Rolando McClain, K Sebastian Janikowski, and CBs Chris Johnson and Chimdi Chekwa. Janikowski is expected to play, and his replacement against KC, Dave Rayner, is no longer on the team's roster.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Greg Gabriel believes it's pretty much time to move Tim Tebow to another position, if not now than sooner than later. Gabriel says that Tebow was blessed in his Florida career to have arguably the best players in the country surrounding him, and that with the offensive scheme, line and skill players at his disposal, Tim was bound to be successful there. A quick glance at Tebow's 2008 BCS Title team shows NFL starters Cam Newton, the Pouncey twins, Aaron Hernandez, David Nelson, Percy Harvin, Carlos Dunlap, Joe Haden, Brandon Spikes, and Major Wright, plus lesser NFL lights (but still in the league) Louis Murphy, Riley Cooper and Ahmad Black, among others. Gabriel states that this vast talent supply helped Tebow get away with his poor mechanics, and he writes:
He does not read defenses well, he lacks accuracy and he is too impatient to let plays develop. All things that are needed to be a good NFL quarterback. Denver has adjusted its offense to try and call plays to Tebow’s strengths, using the shotgun more and having some run/pass options.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Thankfully, we don't have to bother speculating on who will play QB on Sunday, because John Fox confirmed it will be Tim Tebow, although he didn't commit beyond that.
Meanwhile, Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports' Eye on Football reviews all of Tebow's throws, and he writes,
Tebow continues to struggle with identifying coverages, going through his progressions, and getting the ball out of his hands on time. Couple that with average arm strength, poor mechanics and inaccuracy issues, and you get a lot of bad football.
Happy Halloween, Broncos fans! Unfortunately, it seems Tim Tebow & Co. got all their treats a week early, because yesterday was just one big trick - and the Lions just weren't fooled by Tim's winner costume in their 45-10 victory (box score). In fact, Detroit didn't follow the script properly at all, because their Scooby Doo-style unveiling of Tebow as a fraud came way too early in the show. Or, was it that Tebow turned into a pumpkin when struck by a more talented team? Because really, the Broncos looked like a bunch of headless horsemen yesterday.
Okay, no more Halloween puns. Last week we got 55 minutes of ugly from Denver, and yesterday wasn't really any better. Granted, Tebow for much of the game looked better than he had in Miami, but that's hardly saying anything at all. We can pin it on the coaches, on the offensive line, the receivers, the defense. But this is the NFL, and it's all about the quarterback - or wouldn't this team have started out 4-1 or 5-0 had Tebow been the QB from Week 1?
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver has interestingly foregone the option to add another running back to the active roster today, so only Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball will suit up in the absence of Willis McGahee. Obviously, Tim Tebow's running skills (on both designed and improvised plays) are a factor, and the team does have two fullbacks in Spencer Larsen and Quinn Johnson, who dressed last week in Miami after having been claimed on waivers from Tennessee three weeks ago. Presumably one of the fullbacks would fill in at halfback should Knowshon and Ball suffer injuries, and TE Dante Rosario has seen action at FB as a Bronco. Denver has one tailback on the practice squad: Jeremiah Johnson, who had been activated for the Week 2 victory over Cincinnati.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Chris Benson previews tomorrow's game for PFF, and he says it's practically a must-win for the Lions after having dropped two straight. He figures we'll see plenty of carries for Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball in the absence of Willis McGahee, but says that despite Detroit's struggles against the run in recent weeks, they're not lacking for defenders who play it well.
Benson is excited for the matchup of Champ and Megatron, as he points out that most teams don't move their top cornerbacks around to shadow top receivers, unlike Denver with Bailey. As for the Denver passing game, he writes that Ndamukong Suh will be licking his chops for those frequent occasions where Tim Tebow turns himself into a runner and foregoes the NFL's quarterback-protecting rules, and that Orlando Franklin should need less help with Cliff Avril than he did against Cameron Wake of the Dolphins.