Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

Edholm: Wondering why Vikes didn’t let Broncos score at the end

Shorts and Shells: Week 13
www.profootballweekly.com

At this point, knowing that they can’t stop the clock again or force much worse than a 21-yard field-goal attempt, the Vikings needed to let the Broncos score. It’s what many people feel the Packers did to the Broncos at the end of Super Bowl XXXII. Otherwise, the Broncos could just milk the clock and kick the game-winner…A week after foolishly going for it on 4th-and-goal down 10 points at Atlanta — although showing some nerve in the process — Frazier went soft. He was outcoached. Now maybe a smart player such as Tim Tebow sees the Vikings are allowing the Broncos to score and he takes a knee before the goal line, a la Maurice Jones-Drew against the Jets a few years ago or Brian Westbrook against the Cowboys.

MMQB: Hey McDaniels haters, u still mad tho?

Rodgers, Tebow respond with the pressure on in Week 13
sportsillustrated.cnn.com

If there’s been a story like Tebow’s in the 27 years I’ve covered the NFL, I’m having a hard time recalling it. An aside to Bronco Nation: Still furious at the McDaniels Era? He is, after all, the man who drafted the best story in sports. Shoot, and maybe the best story overall…What exactly are we watching here, other than the nuttiest story in recent sports history?

Benoit: One-week snark hiatus for Tebow

Week 13 Quick Hits: In Praise of Packers Receivers
fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com

Tim Tebow played well enough to get a one-week reprieve from the smarmy sarcasm that has pocked the Broncos’ Quick Hits capsules for the last month and a half. Tebow had the luxury of facing a Vikings secondary that was iffy even before losing five of its top six players. As a quality quarterback would, he took advantage of the Vikings’ attrition.

Silver: Self-loathing in Minnesota post-Tebow

Yates ready to put arm to good use for Texans
sports.yahoo.com

It’s always something, with a common theme – Tebow and his teammates are finding ways to win games that many others in their situation don’t. Consider that overarching theme when assessing these comments from several Minnesota players with whom I communicated after Sunday’s game. Vikings Player 1: “I can throw to wide-open people. Let’s face it, we suck.” Vikings Player 2: “He gets it done somehow. Our DBs could not cover their receivers. I can’t explain it. He looks so bad in warmups throwing it, it’s crazy. Maybe he is the second coming.” Vikings Player No. 3: “It’s very hard to deny at this point that he’s got something special.”

Hey, he made the throws.

Forte has Grade 2 MCL sprain, likely to miss next week’s game

Sources: Matt Forte has Grade 2 sprain
espn.go.com

CHICAGO—Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, according to the initial diagnosis, sources close to the situation told ESPN.com.

Injuries such as these typically sideline players two to six weeks. There are four games left in the season.

The Broncos get more good injury luck, in advance of a big game.

H/T my brother ChrisB860 (an occasional poster) who called me on the phone to tell me.

If you’re gonna tackle Tebow, you better pack your lunch

Former Florida stars Tebow and Harvin face off
lacrossetribune.com

“I’m not sure,’’ Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson said, asked why the Broncos are thriving with an offense that’s not supposed to work. “I was one of those guys that said the same thing, just because of the amount of time your quarterback is going to get hit. But maybe they’re successful because of the durability of Tebow, him being a bigger guy and having a running back size compared to a normal quarterback.’‘

At 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds, Tebow packs a punch, and he’s faster than a fullback. He ran the ball 22 times last week in a win over San Diego, the most in a game by an NFL quarterback since 1950. Sanford said he thought he was done defending the option when he left college.

“He’s strong, really one of strongest guys I’ve ever come across, especially at quarterback,’’ [Jamarca] Sanford said. “He’s really like a tailback. When you come to tackle him, you better pack your lunch.’‘

You might consider bringing your hard hat and steel toe boots, too, son.

ESPN masters the obvious: beat Tebow by scoring on the Broncos’ defense

How to beat the Broncos
insider.espn.go.com

The Broncos are also winning with Tebow posting a Total QBR of 34.6 (31st in the league). However, it’s fair to note that while QBR does account for a quarterback’s running ability, it doesn’t account for the return of the option quarterback. The option hadn’t been seen in the NFL for decades and is even being phased out in college football. But the Broncos are running it and Tebow is making it work.

According to our video analysis team, up to this point, the Broncos’ option is working at a rate of about 55 percent, a rate far exceeding that of normal rushing plays around the league (about 44 percent), and an enormous jump on the Broncos’ running success rate when not using the option (about 36 percent). Given that Tebow has to make the quick decisions on what to do with the ball, he deserves some credit for this that QBR is currently not giving him.

You'll need an ESPN Insider subscription to access this article, but if you don't have one, let me summarize Dean Oliver's earth-shattering game plan for beating the Broncos:

  1. Score on the Broncos' amazing defense
  2. Use play-action passes
  3. If you get a lead, don't go Marty Schottenheimer
  4. Play Cover 2 with the safeties and spy Tebow
  5. Don't overload the box in running situations; the Broncos are being deceptive.

Oliver does offer another fact that doesn't constitute a strategy, but is interesting (and obvious if one has been paying attention)--namely, that the Broncos have been trying to trick opponents by showing 3-wide receiver sets when they are, in fact, going to run the football.   Of course they have, my dear Oliver.  It's simply another way of forcing the defense to use a defensive back against a 245-pound quarterback who loves to truck guys smaller than him.

Fortunately for the Broncos, Oliver's plan is not not easily executed unless you're the Green Bay Packers. Six teams have tried.  Five teams have failed. Something is working.  The last time I remember reading articles like this, it was 1998.

Why even call it Denver anymore?

NFL.com Is Still Calling The Broncos The "Denver Tebows"
deadspin.com

The “fast-charging Denver Tebows” are still “in the hunt” for a Wild Card spot, according to NFL.com. I’d prefer the Denver Not Kyle Ortons, but that’s just me.

Lombardi: Tebow is wearing opponents down in Denver

Eagles must change, beginning with Reid; Week 13 notes
www.nfl.com

One of the elements of Tim Tebow’s game that goes unnoticed is that when he plays at home in the Mile High City, the altitude affects the opponents after spending three quarters chasing Tebow around. John Elway would wear out his opponents with his ability to move around, and Tebow does the same. They have different styles but the results are the same—defenses get tired.

Mike Silver has accepted that Tim Tebow just wins

Talking Tebow, spiraling Eagles and big awards
sports.yahoo.com

If you’re wondering whether others have similarly skeptical beliefs about Tebow – yes, they do: Others being virtually every player, coach and talent evaluator I’ve spoken to over the past month-and-a-half. And you know what? None of that matters. The running game’s working, the defense is playing lights out and Tebow is winning. And opponents are starting to get affected, too, simultaneously playing scared and overextending, like a talented tennis player getting mentally undone by an opponent who’s just pushing the ball back and trying not to make mistakes. Never mind that Tebow, by all objective standards, is terrible at throwing the ball, or that his success makes no rational sense: I’m over it. I’ve accepted the fact that it just works, somehow, and it doesn’t seem like the madness will stop anytime soon.

I know what some of you are wondering, but I just can't answer that right now...