Gut Reaction: Divisional Round - Broncos at Patriots

In the real world, Goliath wins--a lot.

In fact, Goliath Tom Brady tonight almost threw for as many touchdowns (6) as David Tim Tebow had completions (9).

Tebow threw for 136 yards.  I guess that's 316 just written another way.

If we take 136 at face value, this from 1 Corinthians 13:6: "Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in truth."

In today's NFL, the truth is Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the New England Patriots.

Many Broncos fans will rejoiceth in the fact that the Broncos even made the playoffs to begin with.  If you like to think of the Broncos as a small-college football team happy enough to make a bowl game, then clap your hands.  If you're into winning championships, set your sights higher and save the rah-rah chants for the tourists.

The Positives

1. Matt Prater.

2. Quinton Carter.

3. Demaryius Thomas.

4. These hot playmates Tebowing.

The Negatives

1. The Broncos tried to cover Rob Gronkowski with Joe Mays, Chris Harris, D.J. Williams, and a whole plethera of desperate zones.  Nothing worked--too big, too fast, too strong.  Worse, it appeared that no one on the Broncos actually wanted to tackle Gronkowski.  Perhaps it was the sound of Gronkowski tearing the Broncos' safeties in half and making their linebackers explode on contact.   Even Champ Bailey did his best imitation of a bullfighter when staring down the massive tight end.

2. Aaron Hernandez looked like Barry Sanders today.  David Bruton, well, not so much.  I see Paris, I see France, I see the back of Aaron Hernandez's underpants (as he's running past Denver's linebackers for another huge gain).

3. Andre' Goodman had some excellent and tight coverage on one play today.  I just can't remember which one.

4. Dennis Allen tried to go all Run DMC (tricky) on Tom Brady early with pressure up the middle and by moving Von Miller around the formation.  So much for that idea.

5. The Patriots again had a plan to flush Tebow to his right, where his technique is even worse than his normally flawed mechanics.  They also--unlike the Steelers--decided to help their cornerbacks with safety help over the top.  I think it worked out okay.  Fundamentally, Bill Belichick understands true statistical correlation between winning and the run game.  It doesn't really matter if the zone read chews up five yards on first down when winning correlates with big chunks of passing yards.  That's today's NFL, no matter how much you love the pistol formation, the option, or the beauty of the zone read.  One wonders if the Broncos will abort this offense in the offseason.  Your guess is as good as mine.

6. Tebow's wide throw with just over a minute remaining on third down can directly be traced to the Patriots touchdown to end the first half.  If he makes that simple throw, the Broncos can drain the clock.

7. Lance Ball's pitiful drop preceeded Tebow's terrible throw.  Yes, it can be directly traced to said touchdown.

8. Orlando Franklin was beat badly on several occasions.  One of these beatdowns led to Tebow's fumble in the first quarter.

9. Speaking of Tebow's fumble, his elongated motion does matter in certain contexts.  If he has the mechanics of Brady, the fumble doesn't happen; the ball is out.

10. When the game was in the balance in the first half, I watched Tebow miss with his eyes Matt Willis, Lance Ball, and Eddie Royal running wide open on one drive alone. I'm not sure why.  Aww, hell, let's blame Mike McCoy.

11. Vince Wilfork vs. Russ Hochstein? Wilfork in a rout. Vince Wilfork vs. Entire Broncos O-Line?  It's a push.

12. I know Tebow was frustrated by his line, but he's just as much at fault for his sacks today.  Anyone that's played or coached the offensive line knows that when your quarterback is skittish in the pocket and takes off sideways (not forward), it doesn't allow for your technique to work--you're essentially left to try and pull without leverage instead of pushing with it.  But those are the cards you deal yourself if you want to play with a quarterback that is not a pocket passer.  Pro and cons.  The cons won today.  Let's hope Tebow was trying to simply fire up his guys instead of bitching at them.

13. Nate Solder is the offenstive tackle I wish the Broncos had drafted in 2011.  In two games against the Broncos and Von Miller, he's been Captain Caveman.

14. I don't mind the Patriots running no huddle into the fourth quarter.  You want them to quit, you should stop them.  You want to stop them, be the physical team you claim you are--of course, unless you're not.  The truth is the Patriots could have hit 60 today had they wanted to.

15. John Fox gets credit for changing the culture of the Broncos, but I'm not buying it.  They backed into the playoffs on the third tiebreaker, they were a Marion Barber run, a missed Nick Novak field goal, and an onside kick in Miami away from being 5-11.  To me, he's the same John Fox, but you've been fooled by acts of randomness and a voice that sounds a little like Sam Elliott.  He's still the same guy who goes conservative too often, doesn't go for it on fourth down when he should, and mismanages the clock and timeouts with the worst of them.  Sure, everything is relative to 4-12, so I should be glad about this 45-10 drilling.  Oh, and by the way, Fox kicking a field goal so that 10 points looks better than 7 was just silly.

16. The Broncos missed Eric Decker today--in the pass, but more importantly, in the running game.  The Tebowites want to lay claim to the idea that Decker isn't a good wide receiver.  It's the same claim they made about Demaryius Thomas early in the year.  Don't believe it.

17. Rahim Moore entered the fray today.  He was no sooner out of position.  Just to ensure fans the Broncos made an iffy 2nd-round pick, he completed the day with a horse collar.  The Broncos will probably be forced to burn another draft pick on a safety in 2012.

18. Remember when Kyle Orton would be really far behind and pad his stats for 300 yards so that the final yardage totals didn't seem so bad?  Well, tonight Tebow had that chance and still ended the day with less than 150 yards passing and 9 for 26 passing (34.6%).  Tebow zealots and Tebow haters aside, if you're John Elway, and you just watched one of the best classic pocket passers in the game scorch you in the passing game for 363 yards and a 76.5% completion percentage, I'd guess you're pretty damn nervous about paying Tebow, who will be a third-year quarterback, an $11 million playing time bonus next year and turning over the keys.  If Elway is thinking risk management, he's got to draft a quarterback somewhere in the first three rounds and bring in a veteran because no one knows which Tebow is going to show up.  Word on the street is that no quarterback wants to come to Denver because of the zealotry (and the fear they won't be given a fair shake), so we'll see how that works out.

19. Um, Von Miller, what were you thinking?  I guess he hadn't hit too many guys all night, so he really needed to get a lick on the personal foul.  In defense of Miller...well, here is his defense.

20. The Broncos are likely picking 25th in the draft in 2012.  You might find a game changer at that spot, but it's unlikely.  Maybe they should keep the zone read after all.  So you've got a team that isn't even close (as we saw today), playing a brutal first-place schedule, and questions at quarterback, cornerback, linebacker, and a multitude of other positions.  This season was magical, but it's just as likely to go the other way next year.

21. Injuries suck.  They sucked for Steelers fans last week; they suck for Broncos fans this week.

22. Later, Eddie Royal.  I'll cheer for you in Washington. That's an offense in which you will soar.

23. Zane Beadles' personal-foul penalty was one of the most costly in Broncos history.  It may have been the turning point in the game.  

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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