Gut Reaction: Week 7 - Broncos at Dolphins

Confirmation bias isn't just a river in Egypt.

This week, every Broncos fan will have a legitimate claim to their view.

Does Tim Tebow have what it takes to be the Broncos starting quarterback?

The score says yes.  So do the thousands of Tebowites who skipped church this morning to witness Tebow's 4th-quarter comeback.

But the game plan says no.  John Fox and Mike McCoy called this game like they couldn't trust their quarterback--or their team.  Without an onside kick recovery, an OT turnover, some amazing catches by Demaryius Thomas and Daniel Fells, and a Dolphins team that ran a prevent defense that only prevented them from winning, this game is a loss to a brutally bad team.

The Broncos had fourteen days to create a game plan for the Miami Dolphins.  It was clearly thirteen days too many.  They could have done better by simply letting Tebow use his old Florida playbook and flying in Urban Meyer.  At least they would have converted a 3rd down before the fourth quarter.

This game did nothing to resolve the quarterback issue for the Broncos, but at least it was exciting in the end.  That's more than the Broncos have had in a long time.

(Update & Correction:  The coverage noted in the last two drives was clearly NOT prevent, quarter coverage, it was nickel, deep-zone coverage)

Let's get to the Positives, the Negatives, and the Who The Heck Knows? 

The Positives

1.  I'm beginning to actually believe that Tim Tebow does possess more willpower than other men.  How else can you explain what he's done in the last two weeks?  I suppose you could say that a prevent defense allows for such things--as does an onside kick recovery--but someone still has to put it in the endzone.  As bad as Tebow is--and today he looked really bad through 55 minutes--he was money when it counted.

2.  Brandon Marshall continues to drop passes at a quicker rate than the US government prints money.  And we all know what happens when there are more dollars chasing fewer goods, don't we?  Wide Receivers have an inflated image of themselves.  Or if you prefer, let's call Marshall the law of decreasing returns.

2. Miami's dropped passes and dropped INTs single-handedly made some nice B-roll for a new film called Stonehands--The Reckoning.

3. Brian Dawkins is being used by Dennis Allen to perfection now.  Allen is constantly sneaking Dawkins into the box on 3rd down and letting Dawkins bring some linebacker vibe to the quarterback's world.  You have to love it.  The more I see Allen disguising Dawkins' weaknesses and punctuating his strengths, the more I believe Allen will finally be the defensive coordinator that breaks Denver's curse of one-year guys.

4. Zane Beadles is learning if you can't beat 'em, cut 'em.

5. Jonathan Wilhite had a lot of tackles today.  Chris Harris had awesome coverage.  If we could combine them together, we'd have Jonathan Harris, the greatest cornerback (and superhero) in the history of the league.

6. Lance Ball replaced Willis McGahee and carried the ball with authority.

7. D.J. Williams made several big plays today, none of which were bigger than his strip sack in overtime.  Hey, you have to give the guy his just due.  Recently, Williams said he was going to be all business the rest of the year.  Perhaps he meant it.

8. I saw Champ Bailey yelling at Quinton Carter.  More, Champ.  It's about time.

9.  If Tim Tebow--by some miracle--ends up being the Broncos' quarterback next season, he should send an awful lot of gifts to Dennis Allen.  I already praised Allen once already, but he's already the best coach on the roster, and will become a head-coaching candidate sooner rather than later.

10. The offensive line again did a good job run blocking.  They'll need it next week against Detroit.

Honorable mention: Von Miller, Britton Colquitt, and Brodrick Bunkley.

The Negatives

1. Tebow's first pass of the game was a pick-six in waiting.   Unfortunately for the Dolphins, Karlos Dansby's hands are only slightly better than Brandon Marshall's, so he dropped the pass.    Also, perhaps we are thinking of Tebow's elongated motion in the wrong way.  If he takes a little longer to throw the ball, he might be able to draw a few more personal foul calls like he did in the first half.  Tebow did show some heart on a 34-yard scramble, but it didn't make up for what was otherwise an underwhelming performance.  I'm almost scared to bring up his mechanics on the long pass to Demaryius Thomas for fear that I'll be accused of piling on.

2. Since Ted has declared himself the official IAOFM Tim Tebow booster each Tuesday, I think it's probably time I declared myself, too.  I'm putting myself in the other camp inhabited by guys like Merril Hoge.  It's good for the site, to be honest, to get a lot of folks arguing, and I actually saw enough from Tebow today to realize that it's going to take about two games for teams to stop him (hint: do what the pitiful Dolphins did today and spy him while playing 2-deep zone with man coverage underneath).  It will take three games for him to get injured.  If John Elway wants to go with Tebow under center for a full season, he'll tell Brian Xanders to draft two more spread quarterbacks.  He'll need them.

3. Matt Prater has mostly good days for the Denver Broncos.  Today was not one of those days.  The last time Prater missed two field goals in a game was in 2009.  It was Josh McDaniels' second game as the Broncos' head coach.  Prater must have missed the memo that he's supposed to put the Broncos' offense on his back and play Atlas (look it up, Raiders fans).  Thankfully, Prater only had to make a 52-yard chip shot in overtime, due to John Fox's conservative play calling.  Man, I get that Fox has confidence in Prater, but those calls to end the game were just playing not to lose.

4. I don't like the call by Fox to not go for it on 4th down in the second quarter with a half yard to gain.  Without bringing EPV (Expected Points Value) into the discussion, I'll just attack it from an emotional level (some people like that).  The Broncos were chopping the Dolphins up in the running game.  They were playing with perhaps the greatest inside running quarterback in college history--a guy who weighs 240 lbs.  If that's not a recipe for being aggressive, I'm not sure what is.  Why do you have Tebow as your quarterback if not for situations like that?

5. McCoy apparently doesn't read my good friend Ted Bartlett's weekly breakdowns.  McCoy insists on continuing with the same zone reads; on 3rd down he wants to keep Tebow in the pocket instead of rolling him to one side of the field and letting him do what he does best.  This generally forces Tebow into what passes for organized streetball.  The Dolphins played 2-deep coverage, with man coverage underneath.  They also had Jason Taylor spy Tebow on 3rd down.  The Broncos could have had a field day with crossing routes and Eddie Royal all game.  Notice when the Broncos got big yardarge?  Yeah, it was against the prevent, but that' s beside the point.  It came on crossing routes.

6. Speaking of Royal, he dropped one of Tebow's nice passes.  During a normal game, I overlook this, but when your QB only attempts five passes in the first half, every one of those passes is a big deal.

7. Orlando Franklin was worried before the game that he didn't have Kyle Orton to fix his mistakes (Orton being able to see the pressure early because he's right-handed).  As it turns out, he had good reason to sweat.  Cameron Wake flooded the rookie with a plethora of old-school power and quickness that should have required some assistance from a tight end or running back.

8. Just win baby.  That works for a sample size of one game.  But 4-for-16 on third down won't get it done next week.

9. I didn't see a lot of Elvis Dumervil today.  Perhaps Jake Long is that good.

10. Tebow took seven sacks today.  A win is a win, but if that trend continues, someone's going to get invited to a Joey Harrington party!

Who The Heck Knows?

1.Tebow said that he has one goal: get a little better every day.  If this is true, why can't he execute a basic 7-step drop by now?  It's been 18 months since he was drafted.  Can we apply compounding interest to that improvement?

2. Again, in the interest of heating up traffic, let me say sorry, Tebow fans, but Matt Barkley is already better for this system today than is Tebow.  Unless and until McCoy and Fox decide to run an offense that resembles one that uses bootlegs, sprint outs, and rollouts, today's game was a nice memory for you.

3. Ryan McBean really stalked the ballcarrier at the beginning of the 2nd quarter.  His encroachment penalty was just an example, though, of a guy who wanted to hunt and track his prey.  He kept pursuing and going after the ball with vigor throughout the 2nd quarter.  It was so good, it was like he was sitting outside the running back's window, calling him on the phone, and saying in a really creepy voice, "I know what you're wearing."

4. Adam Schefter said that Tony Sparano might lose his job today if the Dolphins were to lose to the Broncos.  You just got Tebowed, Tony!

5. Reggie Bush, can you drop off the map any faster?

6. Would Kyle Orton have won today?  I have no clue.  I would guess he does, but again, I am trying my best to heat things up.

7.The Broncos no longer control their own destiny in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.  I still think John Elway makes them a player, however.

8. A quick take on the Carson Palmer trade.  Hue Jackson will regret calling it a great trade,  just like I might regret saying that Tim Tebow will make one hell of an H-back in John Fox's system next year.

9.  Another quick take now that I watched the last two Broncos drives again.  Don't rush three and four against Tebow. Rush five.  That's how the Dolphins played the game until the last two drives.

10. Here's the truth: I wore the unluckiest Broncos jersey that I own today, and Tim Tebow got it done.  This jersey was with me during the McDaniels days and I put it into retirement.  It's got white pinstripes and the old-school Broncos logo.  I love the damn thing.  I never thought I'd be able to wear it again.  If Tim Tebow can remove the curse on this jersey in ten more games, I'll buy Ted Bartlett one of these things and start listening to country music.

Feel free to give us your thoughts below.

You want some more?  Huh? You want a little?  Do ya?  Email TJ Johnson: Or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.  Or come get some sugar at It’s All Over, Fat Man! on Facebook and Twitter.

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

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