Gut Reactions - Week 15, Broncos-Raiders

Bill Walsh, the original gangsta of QB evaluation, once wrote:

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"He [the quarterback] must be courageous and intensely competitive. He will be the one on the field who is running the team. His teammates must believe in him or it may not matter how much physical ability he has. If he is courageous and intensely competitive, then other players will know and respect that. This will be a foundation for becoming a leader."

Today, Tim Tebow proved he's a leader.  He made plays; he was intensely competitive; he was courageous as hell.  I think most would agree that the foundation that Walsh spoke of is there in the Broncos' first-round draft pick.

But we ought not confuse intensity with the passing tree.

For the most part, he didn't get a chance to see the passing tree.  Mike McCoy came out with a very conservative game plan--a game plan flush with quarterback draws and run-heavy packages.

For the day, Tebow was 8-16 for 138 yards.  His rating, surprisingly, was 100.5.  That's not a bad first game for any quarterback.  Realistically, however, Tebow is still a work in progress.  He rarely got past his 1st read in his 16 attempts.

Broncos fans have reason to believe, however.  Tebow accounted himself well.  He made some great adjustments at the line of scrimmage during the game.  He showed great leadership.  He got better in the pocket as the game went on.

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

Positives

1) Tim Tebow made a lot of plays with this feet.  Dude set the Broncos' record for longest touchdown run by a quarterback.  Surprisingly, he broke Bubby Brister's record, not John Elway's.  This is obvious, but worth noting:  there aren't many quarterbacks in the league who could have made this play on 3rd-and-24.

2) Three turnovers in the 1st half? Is hell Oakland frozen over? Or did Al Davis pigs just grow wings?

3) Kevin Vickerson played a great cornerback defensive end on the early turnover.  That's one hell of an athletic play from a guy that size.  That doesn't mean he still doesn't get owned on the run (he does), but it was an athletic play.  

4) The Broncos' coaching staff tried to establish the running game early in order to help Tebow.  They played quite a bit out of their 212 and 221 personnel packages.  This stands in direct contrast to the standard 113 package favored in the Josh McDaniels offense.  Essentially the Broncos favored two-wide-receiver sets over those that featured three.  The staff also tried to give Tebow some early easy throws.  They weren't successful, but I'm giving them points for trying. 

5) I'm convinced Brandon Lloyd is the best receiver in the NFL.  Either that, or he sold his soul to the devil for one perfect year.  I'd tweet you how great he is, but I'd only have 140 characters.  I'm running out of adjectives to describe Lloyd after the catches he makes.  Lloyd is GARGANTASTIC.

6) Brady Quinn and Kyle Orton on the sideline coaching Tebow--classy. 

7) The Broncos' defense on 3rd downs.  Robert Ayers and Darcel McBath should be singled out for their play today.  Even when they weren't in on the tackle, they were both disruptive on 3rd downs.  The Raiders ended the game 2-for-11 on 3rd downs.   

8) Steve Hasheesh redeemed himself today with three field goals.  He's still unpronounceable, but  that, by itself, is becoming cool.  

9) The Bills, Bengals, and Panthers all won today if you care about draft picks.

10) The Raiders didn't score 59 today.  Sure, they scored 39, but that's 20 less points!  Honestly, who you start at quarterback doesn't matter when you give up that many points.  

Negatives

1) The end around has given the Broncos a bit of trouble lately.  On the first play of scrimmage, the Raiders took advantage of an emotional and over-pursuing defense.   DJ Williams didn't disappoint: he got caught in traffic and fell to the ground.  Later, Williams went back to ignoring his man responsibilities out of the backfield, which resulted in another long Raiders touchdown.  If I was a betting man, I'd say the odds are better than not that Williams has played his last year as a Bronco.

2) I'd say we should put some lipstick on the hog that is the Broncos' running game, but I'm all out of lipstick.  Quick, someone punch Richard Seymour in the mouth.  We'll use his blood instead.  Expect most of the changes on the Broncos' roster to come on the defensive line in the offseason.  In two games against the Raiders, the Broncos' rushing defense has given up 592 yards.  Did I mention we should expect some changes?

3) I do not like Zack Miller (ham).  I do not like him, Sam I am.  I do not like him here or there.  I do not like him anywhere.

4) Tebow wasn't the epitome of great footwork in the pocket early.  In fact, he was slightly skittish.  In the 2nd half, he looked better.   McCoy didn't exactly give him a lot of opportunities, however.

5) Can we get Eric Decker to return punts as well?  Shame, shame, I know your name, Syd'Quan Thompson.   ¿Qué haces, hombre?

6) When backed up against your own end zone, being conservative is the absolute wrong way to play call, even with a rookie quarterback.  I'd go into all the reasons why, including how it essentially gives away expected points (EP),  but your mind would explode. Mine certainly did watching McCoy have Tebow hand the ball off on three straight occasions.  You simply have to be able to trust Tim Tebow to throw the ball to his teammates in these situations.  If he can't, then you shouldn't  start him in the first place.  As Brian Griese rightly pointed out during the radio broadcast, "That's just bad coaching."  

7) 3rd downs continue to haunt the Broncos.  The Broncos were 2-of-12.   You can do the math, but it always equals a top-3 draft pick.  

8) Tommy Kelly made Zane Beadles his bitch today.  Several of the Oakland linemen made JD Walton their bitch today.  That tends to happen when you stack both A gaps.

9) Tebow did make one horrible audible late in the game when the Broncos were backed up against their goal line.  It resulted in a three-yard loss.

10) Mike McCoy's play calling.  It was a huge factor in the game.  Too many quarterback draws--too predictable.  

Who The Heck Knows?

1) Champ Bailey was held on the Raiders' first touchdown; shortly thereafter, Knowshon Moreno was horse-collared.  Stay classy, Oakland.   

2) Mike McCoy tried to get cute with the Wildcat early. I didn't like the call because the Broncos knew the Raiders were playing the run with Tebow in the game anyway.  Also, I didn't like it because it lost yards. How convenient is 20/20 hindsight?  Very.  

3) "Jason Hunter was called for touching Jason Campbell on the helmet."   TJ Johnson dislikes this.

4) Who is Jamal Williams?  On some plays he's the Rock of Gibraltar.  On others, he is a broken rock.   

5) McCoy went away from the quick screens early, but the way the Raiders were playing the box in the 2nd half (stacking their middle like they were hitting a buffet line), the Broncos should have considered going back to them in the 2nd half.  

6)  Did David Bruton put on rollerskates during that 73-yard touchdown pass that opened the 4th quarter?  

7) There are many who like the set of linebackers the Broncos have.  I am not one of those people.  Give me Doom, give me Ayers, and give me Joe Mays if you play a 4-3.    I'll start over with the rest.   The Broncos have possibly the worst set of coverage linebackers in the league.

8) Knowshon Moreno was injured in the game.  Sorry, I didn't really notice.

9) Wink Martindale will be the former defensive coordinator in two more weeks.  How do you feel about that?  

10) Eric Studesville, I dig your style.  You'll get a chance eventually, just not here.  

As always, feel free to give us your gut reactions below.  If you don't have a thought on Tebow, you don't have a pulse.

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

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