Take snaps from under center? Check.
Throw a deep out? Check.
Have a quarterback rating over 100? Check.
Tim Tebow wasn't perfect in his first start, and the rest of the team didn't exactly do their part, but in a season where hope is all but lost, the rookie quarterback just may have given Denver fans something to put their faith in. The former Florida Gator superstar quarterback came into the NFL with both very high expectations and a wave of doubt. His first NFL start wasn't flawless, but Tebow dipped into his Gator roots and gave Broncos fans a silver lining in this dark and cloudy season.
There was a ton of doubt surrounding Tebow in his first NFL start, but the rookie came out calm, cool, collected, and poised. He certainly didn't look like a rookie, though offensive coordinator Mike McCoy did his best to make sure Tebow was unable to break out of the cage he kept him in throughout the whole game.
Tebow took a broken play 40 yards for a touchdown--on 3rd and 24. He made every throw the coaching staff asked him to, and then some. He showed his escape-ability, the intensity that he brings to the table, his leadership, and all in all, it was a jolt of refreshing energy for the Denver Broncos.
If playing Tebow the last three games is what keeps Champ Bailey around, I'm all for it. Despite the fact that the Broncos are atrocious on defense, I never expected that they would allow 98 points and 600+ yards rushing to the Oakland Raiders in 2010. If they need a reference page for their draft plan, they should use their stats from the Oakland games.
The Broncos were not at their best on Sunday, but their rookie quarterback showed that he not only is capable of playing quarterback in the NFL, he has the makings of a great player.
Forget the fact that Tebow was kept on a short leash for a moment. He made something out of nothing multiple times, and showed what kind of great athlete he is, leading the team in rushing while having a quarterback rating over 100. Kyle Orton showed class by doing his job and giving Tebow tips on the sideline, which is where I expect to see him as long as Tebow is healthy for the remainder of his Bronco career.
It's never easy to make your first NFL start on the road, but add in the fact that it was against a hungry Oakland Raiders team, the Broncos' most hated rival, and the fact that they were applying pressure every single play, and it was not exactly a formula for success. Still, Tebow managed to play a very good game in my opinion, and exceeded my expectations.
The major problem that was revealed to me on Sunday was that Josh McDaniels' downfall was not he himself, it was the terrible staff he put together around him. The Broncos do not have anyone right now capable of game-planning for an NFL defense. Mike McCoy was flat out embarrassing yesterday, and he built off a terrible performance against Arizona as well.
Tebow played well, along with a few others on the team yesterday, but he was really one of a few bright spots for Denver, whose defense was able to force three turnovers in the first half, score 14 points off of them, and still manage to go into the locker room tied. The Raiders had over 200 yards rushing in the first half alone, and Denver was again embarrassed by their hated rivals.
The Broncos are the worst team in the AFC West, which is a scary reality, but 2011 should bring plenty of promise. If the season ended today, the Broncos would have the 2nd pick in the up-coming NFL Draft, and that is a very intriguing possibility. Essentially, they will have their pick of any player besides Andrew Luck, which has to be the ideal scenario for Broncos fans who don't even need the thought of the new regime having the temptation to take the young Stanford signal caller.
In my opinion, the Broncos' prospect list gets a little shorter by the week, and right now, it seems like a five man race between Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara, Nick Fairley, Marcell Dareus, and Da'Quan Bowers.
I do not know who the next Broncos' head coach will be, but I'm increasingly intrigued by a possible transition to a 4-3 defense. I know many are against it, but just hear me out here.
Elvis Dumervil is inconsistent against the run, and he is obviously better when he has a defensive lineman to protect him. Still, he had 12 sacks in a 4-3 scheme, and is still a disruptive pass rusher when healthy in any scheme. His numbers were inflated in 2009, and I think he can be a consistent double-digit pass rusher like Dwight Freeney, and Freeney plays in a 4-3.
Robert Ayers is clearly not progressing as a rush linebacker in the 3-4. In my opinion, he has been the biggest let down of 2010. Many expected him to make great strides this year, and while he's showing some signs of promise, he hardly has any sacks at all, and has not improved as a pass rusher.
I don't think Ayers is a bust, as he is definitely starting caliber, but he's better suited playing down in a four man front, be it as a tackle or an end. In my opinion, coming out of college his only fit was as a 4-3 end, and I still maintain that. I keep thinking about a four man front for the Broncos that includes Dumervil, Vickerson/Bannan, Nick Fairley, and Robert Ayers, and I can't help but think how potent that group could be. Rotate in Marcus Thomas and another draft pick or two, and you've got a winning formula.
The key is the linebackers on the back end. Depending on what coach is brought in, the Broncos could move D.J. Williams back to his natural outside linebacker position in a 4-3, and I love Wesley Woodyard's potential in that scheme. They would obviously need an overhaul of the linebacker position, but I think that would be a lot easier than it seems. It's an idea, not a guarantee, so we'll see what happens.
All in all, I am not very upset about yesterday's loss. I hate losing more than anything in sports, but we got what we wanted, which was a glimpse of the future. Hopefully Tebow will build off of his solid start as a pro and go into the Houston game next week with an even bigger chip on his shoulder.
The defense will get a makeover this offseason, but I think the offense is set for some time to come.