Gut Reaction: Week 16 - Broncos at Bills

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the team;

Not an offense (or defense or special teams) was stirring, not even a dream.

John Foxball requires good field position and a positive turnover ratio,

Neither of those things happened today.

It doesn't matter who is your quarterback; it doesn't matter how much you believe; it certainly doesn't how many times you kneel and pray.

Football is football--even the night before Christmas.

The Positives

1. Willis McGahee has now run for over one thousand yards in a season for three separate teams. That's serious production. I have to admit, the day McGahee was drafted, I thought he was simply a prop for Drew Rosenhaus. As it turns out, Rosenhaus was the prop for McGahee.

2. The Broncos gutted the Bills right up the middle early in the game. Phil Simms was correct in that Tebow becomes more valuable as the field gets smaller.  That's due to his ability to run out of the shotgun in one- and empty-back sets.  This, by the way, was the exact opposite of what was going on when Kyle Orton was quarterback.  Orton was one of the best quarterbacks in the game between the 20s.

3. The Bills didn't even sniff a sellout today.  It's a joke, but was great for the Broncos.

4. I know I keep saying this every week, but I can't help myself: Chris Harris is a starting cornerback in nickelback's clothing.  Harris was beat once today, but he's easily the best coverage player the Broncos have outside of Champ Bailey.  By the way, Harris has more tackles than any rookie defensive back in the league this year.

5. Dennis Allen continued to show why the A-gap blitz is the NFL's version of the Macarena. Only this fad has a longer shelf life and works well against backup centers.  Allen's crew held the Bills to a few thousand field-goal attempts today.  And he was shorthanded for the second straight week.

6. Champ Bailey ordered his usual blanket latte today.

7. Marcus Thomas and Brodrick Bunkley were among the few bright spots on defense today.

8. The Bills, for all their points, were only 2-12 on third down today.  It doesn't matter that much, though, when your field position is terrible all game.

9.  Demaryius Thomas continues to pile on the yards after catch.

10. It's just football, which means, at the end of the day, it's only entertainment.  Happy Holidays, everyone, and enjoy the time with your families.  It's what really matters, after all.  The Broncos will be here when you get back.

The Negatives

1. If you don't turn the ball over, you win the game--even against a team as pitiful as the Bills.  Truthfuly, early in the game, the Bills looked apathetic, lazy, and honestly, like they didn't want to play in the cold today.  The Bills should have thrown themselves into the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, but they stupidly gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a long-term contract. Fitzpatrick is a true Lephrechaun.  Right now, the Colts and Vikings would likely paste them.  In short, the Bills don't impress me.

2. Tim Tebow had a bad day at the office. And when I say bad, I mean it was brutal. Mama said there would be days like this. Where to begin? Duck duck goose? Looking off the safety? Drifting in the pocket? Tucking and running after his first read? Sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade--even the day before Christmas. Before garbage time and the Bills went to a soft zone, Tebow's QB rating was 37.3. After the soft zone that rating dropped to 35.4. I was particularly disturbed by the lack of zip on his passes. Perhaps it was the cold weather. Let's hope so, because the ball floated all over the yard today.

3. Marcell Dareus wasn't playing around. He really did unleash hell today. After the first drive of the game, he took J.D. Walton and made him look like he was skating to the Bee Gees' How Deep is Your Love in the middle of a roller rink.

4. Phil Simms is a Christmas joke. Early in the game he said that Tim Tebow and the Broncos will look at pictures on the sideline during the game because the defense might line up differently each series. He further expounded by saying that it was good to do this because then you would know how the defense was lining up. If that's not top-rate analysis, I don't know what is.

5. I feel bad for Dave Rayner. He's about to be released from his eighth team after badly missing two easy field goals (it was actually three, but they decided to give him the third out of mercy or something). If there's ever someone who needs to pray to God to influence the outcome of kicks, it's Rayner.  The placebo effects alone would be worth it for him.  Why is this a negative for the Broncos?  Because the Broncos' terrible loss was masked even further by Rayner's misses.

6. The Broncos coverage units wanted to give the Bills the game today.  In their defense, Leodis McKelvin is a flat return guru.

7. The call against Dante Rosario on Eddie Royal's touchdown run was criminal.  Not only did Rosario not commit the push in the back, he may not have even touched the guy.

8. Sometimes Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil are so concerned with getting around the corner, they leave themselves exposed against the draw.  I'm not sure I want anything to change, but if you're an offensive coordinator, you have to consider the draw an effective weapon on 3rd and 5 or shorter.

9. Speaking of Miller, he's simply disappeared the last two games.  I think he may have been credited with one assist on the day.

10. I guess John Fox and his staff have better eyes than everyone in the stadium.  I'm not sure why he decided to challenge a call in which Tebow was easily short of the first down so quickly when replays hadn't even come in, especially when he was going to go for it on fourth down anyway.  Fox's coaching continues to boggle the mind.   Hey, I guess we should take what we can get with Fox, however.  At least he went for it on fourth down this game.

11. Losing Brian Dawkins early in the game was, yet again, a huge loss for the Broncos.  I'm guessing Rahim Moore is only going to play "due to significant injury at the safety position" the rest of the way.  Moore may have all the talent in the world, but above the neck, he's been lacking.

12. Losing Quinton Carter was almost as bad as losing Dawkins.

13. Too many dumb penalties (seven) again.  They were particularly crushing because a lot of them came on special teams.

14. The Broncos were 2-13 on 3rd downs today.  This is the dirtly little statistic that was overlooked during the Broncos' six-game win streak.  When you're recovering onside kicks and Marion Barber doesn't run out of bounds, it's cool.  When that doesn't happen, 3rd downs become an issue.

The Who The Heck Knows

1. Tebow was the only player in the field not wearing a sweatshirt during warmups. Clearly Tebow was playing some mental tricks with himself.  Tebow had never played in weather below 40 degrees before today, so I liked the idea.  It makes me wonder if I ought to wear boxer shorts to the company Christmas party to show the boss that I'm ready to go.

2. Adam Schefter said unequivically before the game that Tebow will be the Broncos' starting quarterback in 2012.  When Schefter reports something, you can usually take it to the bank.  Given Schefter's history in Denver (a plethora of contacts deep inside the Broncos organization), I'd say you can take it to the vault and lock it down.

3. Schefter further said the Broncos will spend the offseason tailoring the entire offense around Tebow.  This could mean a lot of different things.  If the Broncos continue to run the football at the pace they are, utilizing the zone read and option, this means one thing.  If this means a more basic shotgun spread, it's something else. I'd say stay tuned, but if the Broncos are going to commit to the option, it puts at least one running quarterback on their draft list.  Any bets?  Fifth round or later?

4. This development (Tebow as starter) has as much to do with John Fox as it does with John Elway coming to any sort of realization.  As others have said, Tebow might be the best quarterback for Foxball that John Fox has ever had.  Tebow simply won't throw a pass unless the receiver is wide open, so you'll never see a lot of turnovers.  And he's ten times the runner that Fox's former teacher's pet, Jake Delhomme ever was.  I'm quite sure the Big Dipper (does Fox dip Copenhagen or Skoal?) has pulled Elway aside and said something like this:  "Dude, I'm an 8-8 coach with any team you give me.  I can easily grind out 2-3 more wins with this guy."

5. For me, Tebow is one giant laboratory experiment.  I'll probably write more about this in the offseason, but I can't remember the last time I watched a Broncos game as a fan.  Perhaps it was three years ago, but I just can't recall.  When you write about the Broncos (or any team, for that matter) 365 days a year like we do here at IAOFM, you lose a lot of your emotional attachment to any single player.  And since I'm not a Florida Gators fan nor technically an evangelical, Tebow is more of a curiosity to me.  Can a guy who was overthrowing his receivers by five feet in training camp turn himself into an NFL passer through hard work and on-the-job training?  Whatever the answer, it won't be boring. I plan on writing more about this during the offseason.

6. "We're used to the altitude, so it's easier going other places."  Von Miller always provides a great quote.  Even if this statement is hard to prove scientificially, it really doesn't matter.  If Miller and the Broncos believe it, it certainly gives them a mental edge.  

7. Did the Pats give a blueprint to the rest of the league?  Only if you believe they invented the delayed rush which keeps Tebow in the pocket and doing what he hates to do--passing the football.

8. Kyle Orton and the Chiefs lost today, so they're out of the playoff picture.  As we all know, though, they'll have plenty of motivation next week against the Broncos. 

9. The Oakland Raiders, on the other hand, have plenty to play for.  If they win next week and the Broncos lose, they're into the dance.

10. Who knows about the Chargers?  We'll tell you in two hours.

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

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