As what is typical with MSM, blanket statements are made because they are easy and make for better headlines. So most of the headlines around the league say something to the effect of Tim Tebow overcomes gaffes early. Center JD Walton fumble doesn’t sound as good as Tebow Fumble’s in first of many mistakes. Really Tebow didn’t make that many gaffes. At one point he was 12 for 13 for 167 yards, a touchdown, and one INT, with a passer rating of 112.3. He attempted three more passes after that before he was done for the evening.
As far as passing goes that doesn’t sound like a mistake filled performance. The lone incompletion was the interception. Even the interception wasn’t as bad as some may be led to believe. The problem is that everything the team does is linked to the QB. This game was no different out of the seven drives the Tebow engineered three were fumbled and one was an INT. Those fumbles weren’t Tebow’s, yet they are attributed to him. Tebow’s team was playing some of the sloppiest football I have seen and he had to overcome that.
Tebow actually played a fairly mistake free game and solidified his role as the number two QB. This performance had a couple moments of brilliance and was solid across the board with an interception that wasn’t as bad as it seemed ( I will go into that later). Really McDaniels should be comfortable with Tebow coming in to back up Orton should Orton go down with an injury.
Drive 1 – Snap Fumble
This is available to re-watch on NFL.com I have several times and I don’t think that the ball ever hit Tebow’s hands. JD Walton actually snapped the ball as he was standing up, and it bounced forward off of his jock strap. Walton snapped the ball to his crotch and not into Tebow’s hands. This is not making an excuse, but you have a rookie center snapping to a rookie QB. Someone was bound to screw up. At least they both got it out of the way on the first play.
Drive 2 – The Interception
Tebow attempted four passes on this drive. Two were completions. One was a pass interference call. The fourth was the interception. The two completions were for 6 yards and 12 yards. Both were good throws one to fellow rookie Decker. The pass interference was similar to Orton’s back shoulder passes that Kyle has gotten those calls on. I think this is a coaching where McDaniels is telling his QBs to throw at the back of DBs and get the interference call. Anyway it worked and Denver was able to get a five yard penalty for a first down.
First I want to point out that there are six things that happen on interceptions.
1. The Stone Hands - WR tips the ball in the air as the ball bounces off his hands
2. The 50/50 – DB or defender makes a play on a ball thrown up for grabs
3. The Wall - D-Line tips the ball
4. The Lockdown - QB doesn’t see the defender across the field and read where the defense is
5. The Bonehead - QB forces the ball into coverage often triple coverage
6. The President – QB is off target and either throws short or is just way off and ends up in defenders hands
The first three all aren’t the QBs fault. The one exception is if the WR is 1 yard away and the QB fires the ball at 708 MPH. The 50/50 usually happens near the end zone and is a called play. The Wall happens when the O-line doesn’t push the defender back and he is able to get his hands close enough to deflect a pass.
The last three are one’s that QB’s are 100% at fault for. The Lockdown is primarily what Tebow threw last night. The Bonehead is what we often would see of Mr. Jay Cutler forcing balls into triple coverage. The President is where the ball is so off target that you are saying “Where was he going with that one?”.
Here is what happened on the INT
1. Tebow locked on a receiver without looking off the safety. He didn’t even see the safety. The Safety sat for three seconds and watched the play develop before following Tebow’s eyes to get in front of the pass.
2. Poor blocking by #85 TE Marquez Branson. Tebow had to throw the ball quicker than he wanted to because the TE Marquez Branson was late coming over on the block. Branson didn’t make his case to be on the team with this play.
3. The throw was not as deep as it needed to be. Though it was deep enough for the WR to catch it. This is where better execution of the throw would have overcome the safety coming underneath
Tebow’s interception was a high risk high reward throw. He knew there was going to be an opportunity deep up the middle and when he initially looked up it was wide open. Tebow may have been too excited when he looked up to see Willis wide open beating his man down the middle of the field with nothing but daylight in front of him. Tim then tried to flick it a little too quickly and the ball was a little short, and he didn’t have enough time to see the Safety coming across from the other side of the field. I don’t think this was as much of Tebow not reading the defense pre-snap as it was Tebow throwing the ball short before he got his feet set and making a better throw. Tebow getting his feet set wasn’t really an option as the TE Branson missed his block and the forced a quicker throw. See how the team concept comes into play? The second part of every pass play is blocking (first is the snap). The correction for Tebow on this play is for him to give it a little more air on the pass. The correction for the team is for the TE to pick up his man so Tebow can make a better throw and even look off the safety. Not any excuses on the INT I just don’t think it fell into the bonehead category of interceptions as much of an execution issue on the QB and TE. Tebow would complete his next 10 passes in a row.
Johnson picks off Tebow
Drive 3 – #85 TE Marquez Branson fumble
Tebow only threw two passes on this drive. The frirst was a beautiful pass to Matt Willis for 36 yards. Than a short seven yarder to # 85 TE Marquez Branson who proceeded to fumble. (I really think that Denver is not going to keep Branson because of two plays. If not for Branson Tebow could have had a 60 yard TD and another scoring led drive) Tebow also notched a nice tackle following the fumble. I really want to point out that his first pass after the INT was really well thrown and over the defender. This showed a lot of moxie and the skill to play in the NFL.
Drive - 4 - #39 RB Bruce Hall Fumble
This time the fumble was on the first play of the drive by the running back. Another gaffe by a player that probably won’t make the roster. Tebow didn’t throw a pass.
Drive - 5 - Turnover on Downs
Tebow completed six pass on this drive. It was 4th and 1 and Denver decided to hand the ball off to Hall who got crushed. Again I think Tebow did everything asked of him on this drive and the play calling and poor execution killed it. Tebow converted a third down and had completions of 19, 5,13, 8, 7, and 4 yards.
Drive – 6 The Touchdown
This drive the team decided they were going to play well, and Tebow was able to complete four consecutive passes including a perfect 36 yard pass to Matt Willis for a touchdown. Again when the team played well Tebow looked really good. The touchdown pass was the best deep TD I have seen from a Denver QB since Cutler hit Eddie Royal for 99 yarder against Cleveland in 2008. (I know Orton to Marshall against Washington was good too).
Drive 7 - Turnover on Downs
This drive the team started to fall apart. The pass protection was poor and the WRs were dropping passes. TEbow was sacked for a loss. Hall ran for no gain. Then Tebow made a nice run on 3rd and 11 to get out of trouble for 14 yards to the Minnesota 37. Denver went for it on 4th and 8 and Arnett wasn’t able to hold on to the pass as Tebow was running for his life as the protection broke down. In a real game situation Denver may have kicked for it for three. Tobow did throw three straight incompletions. So even if the WRs aren't doing well I guess he could have tucked and ran on one of those downs.