I embraced the Tebow era somewhat skeptically, gladdened only by the notion that the Orton Era seemed to have come to an end…if this does not work, I will be content to observe the Quinn Era, or whatever gets the Broncos back to respectability. Truthfully, under Orton, the squad looked anemic, and under Tebow, despite some flashes, they looked completely inept. However, at the beginning of the 2nd half of the Raiders game last Sunday, the Broncos embarked on a drive that got little notice, but for me, gave me hope that we might be on the way back. Amidst all the talk of running the quarterback option, quarterback draws and the slashing through the line by Willis McGahee, there was something else that got scant attention…and to me, it was the most important development of the day…perhaps you saw it too?
The Broncos came out of the locker room at halftime in Oakland down two scores….one had to even wonder if John Fox might be considering a QB switch…Tebow had not been awful, but the results were not there….nevertheless Tebow remained under center…and the next few minutes would give this Bronco fan cause to be hopeful…we pick up the action following the traditional kickoff for touchback…
1st and 10…a quick out pass to the right sideline to Eric Decker…good for 7 or 8 yards…a safe well thrown ball, the kind of pass that commentators describe as helping a QB establish a rhythm.
2nd and 3… McGahee did what he had done all day…move the chains. A 3 yard gain for a first down.
1st and 10….a 9 yard run negated by a holding penalty….holding penalties are described accurately as “drive killers”…let’s see what happens next. A good team can shake them off. A struggling team winds up punting the ball.
1st and 20…an 18 yard pass to Rosario…well thrown and well caught…gets the ball to the desirable 2nd and short yardage, and Tebow is now 2 for 2 on the drive… this was a great pass that took some touch and was not the safe rhythm establishing kind of throw…instead, this was a throw a professional QB needs to be able to make…all the time.
2nd and 2…incomplete pass to Decker over the middle…would have been a great catch, but one I am sure Decker feels he should make…not a “perfect throw” but certainly within the margin of error.
3rd and 2…McGahee for 3 yards and a 1st down. The reason it is good to get to second and short, and the reason why you take a shot on second and short is because you have a back that can get it done on 3rd and short…in other words, you are a professional football team. Bonus: we shook off a holding penalty and continued the drive!
1st and 10…Tebow runs for 15 yards…not sure if it was a designed play…I called it a scramble in my own mind…Tebow dropped back, saw nothing and took off before the protection broke down, and ran into space for another 1st down. Whether by design or by need, this was a football player making the right play.
1st and 10….Willis McGahee for 11 yards…so far the drive is a great mix of run and pass…on all three of McGahee’s touches, he managed to get first down yardage, whatever that distance was…and Tebow ran for another 1st down and is 2 for 3 passing.
1st and 10…BOOM…30 yard pass over the middle to Eddie Royal…TOUCHDOWN BRONCOS….as Royal crossed into the end zone, I slapped the couch and said out loud…”Now that looked like a professional football team!” And it did, and honestly, there have not been that many times all season where the Broncos have had that look.
I am not going to quibble with how the rest of the game was called….I do not believe that Tebow threw another pass all day (that might be hyperbole, but if he did, there were not many!)…but I sort of wonder why not…other than the fact that running was working….this drive was a great mix of passes and running…4 passes (3 complete), 4 runs (another run called back for holding)…80 yards, 5 first downs…it was a drive that Elway or Montana would be happy with…and little was made of it…I know it was just one drive, but in the context: a team needing to score to start the second half, a team struggling to find offensive rhythm…on the road, against a team widely thought to be a playoff contender, only a week after the debacle against the Lions…it was a professional football drive, and as successful as Tebow’s running of the option was throughout the day, this was the drive that stuck with me.