Broncos vs. Patriots: 5 Takeaways Moving on After Denver's 45-10 Blowout Loss
Well, there it is...the end of Tebow-mania and the end of the Denver Broncos' magical playoff run, all thanks to an absolutely crushing 45-10 beatdown at the hands of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
While Tim Tebow looked about as bad as ever, and the Broncos defense appeared to be playing with nine men on the field the entire game, there are still lessons that can be learned from their AFC Divisional Round loss.
Lessons like the need for a pass-catching tight end and a running back who can be utilized out of the backfield.
If the Broncos want to be legitimate contenders in 2012, there are lessons they must learn from after their ugly loss to the Patriots, and those lessons are what lie ahead in the next five slides.
Draft or Sign Some Legitimate Defensive Talent
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Tom Brady is definitely incredible, but he's not that incredible.
The Denver Broncos did a great job of making Brady look unstoppable, and that was mainly because they couldn't get any kind of pressure on him all game long.
Brady stood in the pocket and ripped the Broncos secondary to shreds because the defensive front couldn't even get a hand on him, especially in the first half.
I know Tim Tebow and the Broncos offense didn't do a lot to help the Broncos defense out, but they looked absolutely terrible on Saturday night and that has to change moving forward into 2012.
The Broncos defense wasn't terrible all season, but whenever they faced an explosive offense like the Patriots, Packers, Bears, Chargers or Bills, they gave up ridiculous amounts of yards and a lot of points.
In games against those teams mentioned above, the Broncos defense gave up a total of 184 points. Yeah, that's pretty bad.
The Broncos need to draft some talent to put on the inside of the defensive line and sign some veteran leadership at the linebacker position and secondary because if they don't, they are going to be in for a long 2012 NFL season.
In the offseason, the Broncos should look to sign either CB Brent Grimes, LB Stephen Tulloch or LB Curtis Lofton.
Draft or Sign a Pass-Catching Tight End
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What's one of the biggest offensive threats missing from the Broncos starting lineup, other than a quarterback at times?
A pass-catching tight end who can run routes over the middle of the field.
I hate making comparisons that aren't necessarily realistic, but the last time the Broncos were a serious title contender was when they had a little-known tight end named Shannon Sharpe, who just so happened to be an incredible receiving threat for the Broncos offense.
I know Tim Tebow hasn't proved an incredible amount regarding his passing ability this season, but one thing holding him back has been the lack of a legitimate tight end.
Throughout the entire 18 games the Broncos played, every player at the tight end position combined accumulated less than 400 yards receiving and only three touchdowns.
I'm not saying grabbing a tight end who can catch passes will make Tebow into a legitimate quarterback, but it will sure help his development throughout next season.
The Broncos would be wise to draft either Coby Fleener, who just happened to be Andrew Luck's main target at Stanford, or Clemson's Dwayne Allen, a consistent and explosive tight end.
Draft or Sign a Running Back Who Can Be Utilized in the Passing Game
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Willis McGahee didn't have a terrible year in 2011, accounting for 1,199 yards on 249 carries for four touchdowns, but he wasn't utilized at all in the passing game, accounting for only 51 yards on 12 receptions and one touchdown.
I know McGahee's pass-catching ability out of the backfield is weak at best, and he's more formidable as a pure running back, but with Tebow under center, the Broncos need as many offensive threats as they can get.
Willis McGahee is too one-dimensional to fit into an offense run by Tim Tebow, and if the Broncos want to succeed with Tebow, they have to get a running back who can catch passes out of the backfield.
If you look at Tebow's success in college, especially in 2008, a large chunk of his passing yardage and passing touchdowns came off of passes to running backs like Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, who caught passes out of the backfield.
The Broncos need to be more creative offensively, and drafting a running back that can be utilized in the passing game is a step in the right direction.
Targets for the Broncos in the 2012 NFL draft should be Washington's Chris Polk and Oregon's LaMichael James, both are players that are explosive in the rushing attack and capable of being utilized in the passing attack.
Tebow Needs to Be Rolled out of the Pocket More Often
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There's not a whole lot of positive to take away from the Broncos' 45-10 blowout loss to the New England Patriots, but one thing that we can take away is that Tebow looked a lot more comfortable when he was rolling out of the pocket than when he was standing in it.
Sure, a lot of that could be because Tebow's pocket was constantly collapsing, but there's no doubt that Tim Tebow is a better quarterback when he is scrambling, especially when he's scrambling to his left.
I know Tebow was an abysmal 9-of-26 for 136 yards, many of which came in garbage time starting in the third quarter, but half of those passes were completed when he was outside of the pocket and that is something the Broncos need to carry over to the 2012 season.
Tim Tebow will never be a pure pocket passer like Montana, Elway or Manning, but if the offense he plays in utilizes his strengths, he can be a better quarterback than he is now.
If the Broncos can add a pass-catching tight end and a running back who can catch passes out of the backfield, the Broncos can roll Tebow out and give him a lot more offensive options than they did this year.
The Broncos need to abandon the read-option offense they have with Tebow and transition into a more spread style offense like he ran at Florida, which included a number of plays designed to get him out of the pocket.
You can't fit Tebow into an offense, you have to build one around him, and if the Broncos do that in 2012, its foundation must be plays that get Tebow outside of the pocket.
Don't Abandon the Tim Tebow Project, He's the Best Player You've Got
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I know that John Elway, the executive vice president of football operations for the Denver Broncos, already said that "Tebow is not going anywhere", but after his atrocious performance against the Patriots on Saturday night, there will undoubtedly be rumblings from within the front office to cut ties with Tebow.
Cutting ties with Tebow right now just wouldn't be wise because Tim Tebow is the best "football player" on the Denver Broncos.
He might not be the best pure quarterback, but he's the best overall player when it comes to his strong rushing attack, his ability to pass the ball and most importantly, his ability to rally players around him.
Tim Tebow is the Broncos' brightest hope for success next season, especially if the Broncos' front office are willing to make the necessary roster moves to help support him, and the Broncos absolutely have to stick with him at least for one more year.
The development that Tebow showed this season was unexpected and it was very impressive.
Sure, the regular season ended on a three-game losing streak, and Tebow's magic ran out in the playoffs with a 45-10 beatdown by the Patriots, but Tebow undoubtedly improved throughout the season and if the right moves are made going into 2012, it's safe to say the best version of Tim Tebow is yet to come.