There's a saying in basketball about volume scorers who play little defense: they play well enough to keep both teams in the game. Certain players have enough talent offensively that they can put the ball in the hoop every time down the court and carry a squad when other players aren't hitting their shots. However, they are also so bad on the other end of the floor that they are as useful as a mannequin in slowing down opponents.
It's hard to say in a sport like football, where players only play on one side of the ball, that someone can be both good and bad enough where the saying applies. However, based on a small sample size, it appears that Broncos QB Tim Tebow is just that kind of player. His faults as a quarterback put a boot on his team's offense, not allowing them to move the ball much of the time. Yet, his strengths are overwhelming, and when he's playing well, few signalcallers can match his productivity and results.
Both the Broncos and Dolphins found that out in Week Seven. Tebow struggled greatly for much of the game against Miami, competing just four of his first 10 pass attempts for 40 yards. During that stretch, which took up the first 55 minutes of regulation, Denver scored zero points, though two missed field goals contributed to that as much as Tebow's ineptitude. Then, over the final five minutes of regulation, the second-year QB turned the game around, leading his team to a pair of touchdown drives to force overtime. One second he was Bubby Brister taking sacks, the next he was John Elway leading the Broncos to an improbable victory.
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At the University of Florida, when Tebow was surrounded by a star-studded offense that featured future NFLers like WR Percy Harvin, TE Aaron Hernandez and O-linemen Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, he was at his best when he had defenses on their toes. Unsure if he was going to pass or run, give it to a speedy teammate or bulldoze through a linebacker, Gators opponents had issues week after week defending Tebow, even though his throwing motion was awkward and his running style left him vulnerable to big hits.
Now in the NFL, where the talent on the other side of the line of scrimmage is as fast and smart as his own team, Tebow can't get by on just setting up his teammates and then catching defenses out of position. He has to learn to stand in the pocket and make throws through tight windows and move the chains on a regular basis. Even in a scaled-down offense on Sunday, one that saw the Broncos run the ball a season-high 39 times, Tebow seemed lost at times, unsure of the read he was supposed to make or where a blitzer was coming from. On the Broncos' first 11 drives against Miami, they recorded either one or zero first downs nine times. Two of the drives resulted in missed field goals, there was one fumble and eight punts. The Broncos went three-and-out four times. For the game, Tebow was sacked seven times, also a season-high for the team
Facing the Lions this week, Tebow will need to improve his decision making and overall grasp of the offense. DT Ndamukong Suh is not going to be run over, especially by a quarterback, so the Broncos will need to find a way to improve protection up front. And with RB Willis McGahee out because of a hand injury, an even greater burden will be placed on the QB's shoulders.
Tebow showed in college he could make plays and showed in Week Seven he has the ability to do it in the NFL. Now he has to work on doing it on a regular basis and make sure his team is the only one who benefits from his time on the field.
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