Broncos vs. Raiders: Tim Tebow Living on the Fault Line?
For those of you old enough to remember, yes, I borrowed that title from an album by a Bay Area 70's rock group called the Doobie Brothers.
But as I look at this game, I see the possibility for a tremor, if not a full-out quake later today.
With all the hoopla of Tebow-mania and the naysayers coming out after the "Disaster in Denver" (the Lions' destruction of the Broncos), this game against the Oakland Raiders will have significant impact on where the Broncos—and particularly, Mr. Tebow—go the rest of this year and into the 2012 season.
Making Strides Forward or Reverting to Old Ways?
One of the things that will determine whether or not Tebow will get better and show his growth as an NFL QB will be his ability to think like an NFL QB.
That means he will have to quickly get the snap, make his first and second reads, and get the ball away in a hurry. No more dancing and watching the rush—just make the reads and do something, even if it is throwing the ball away to avoid the sack.
This will be critical for the Broncos to have any chance today and also for Tebow's survival.
Running When Tebow Wants To—Not When the Defense Dictates
As in last year's game against Oakland, Tebow ran with confidence—and success. He had 78 yards on eight carries and a beautiful 40-yard TD up the middle. He also had a quiet but efficient passing game, going 8-of-16 for 138 yards and a TD.
All this in his first regular-season start—and in the Black Hole.
Even though Denver lost that game, Tebow did what he is capable of: making things happen with both his feet and his arm.
I think one of the reasons Tebow was that successful was because he didn't think about his game; he just went out and played.
Tebow will have to do the same thing today against a team that will be daring him to beat them with his arm and not his legs.
Having a Semblance of a Running Game
Willis McGahee will be back from his broken hand and subsequent surgery. How successful he can be holding onto the ball and still getting those tough yards will remain to be seen.
But with him, Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball, Denver has to mount some type of running game to keep the defense honest and keep Tebow alive.
This means Tebow may have to start out throwing the ball to get the running game going. I know that sounds backwards from what I said earlier, but to run into an eight or nine-man front will be next to impossible.
Speed Up Your Delivery
Everyone, it seems, has criticized Tebow's from-the-hip windup that causes an agonizingly-slow release. This has caused the ball to be delivered late to the breaking receivers, sacks and—in the case of the Lions game—a strip and resulting fumble recovery for a Detroit TD.
Tebow's receivers have to run better routes, make their breaks on time where they are supposed to be and make a few spectacular catches to help out their QB.
I know Tebow can't change his mechanics overnight, but he does have to make his decisions quicker and do what he can to get the ball away faster.
Giving up an average of 6.5 sacks per game is not the way to win football games or survive to play another day.
I also realize that the offensive line has something to do with this, especially from the RT position. Rookie Orlando Franklin has been ineffective in pass-blocking and was actually replaced last week after a groin injury (and may not start today). In fact, other than G Chris Kuper, no one has looked like Pro Bowl-caliber pass-protectors.
But Tebow has to take some of the blame as well. As I said, his decisions have to come quicker, his release has to be faster and the running game has to slow the rush down.
Don't Worry, Be Happy!
Just play your game and let the rest of it go.
Watching last week's game and listening to Tebow this week in press interviews, it seems like much of the fun for Tebow has gone away. And last I checked, big paychecks or not, this is still called a game.
So go out, have fun again and see what happens.
After all, that is about the extent of what TT has the ability to control. Win or lose, just be yourself and smile.
And Don't Let the Black Hole Get to You!
So, with all that said, much of the success of this team to avoid a major earthquake on the East Bay will rest in the hands of Tim Tebow, whether he likes it or not.
After all, the Black Hole is just a bunch of rowdy football fans, right?