I find that it's very efficient to start off an article or paper with a joke. So, here goes:
Tim Tebow walks into a bar...
Not doing it for you? How about this one: Did you hear Tim Tebow threw for 300 yards yesterday?
All joking aside, Tebow has become the hottest topic in the NFL. He boasts a record as 7-1 as a starter this year and has led the once-1-4 Broncos to an 8-5 record and sole possession of first place in the AFC West. The second-year quarterback is becoming known for "Tebowizing" defenses—that is, getting a W in the final seconds of a game. The praise is well deserved, as Tebow has four straight victories while trailing at the two-minute warning.
That's impressive—well, kind of.
As Tebow's yards, touchdowns and wins pile up, so do his number of fans. In all honestly, can you remember the last time you turned on ESPN and didn't hear something about Tebow? I sure can't. Every Sunday during an NFL game, there is a game break to announce to viewers of other games that the fourth quarter of the Broncos game is starting, and it's "Tebow Time."
Granted, Tebow has a quarterback rating of 111.0 in the fourth quarter. That is a stat of an elite quarterback. However, his stats in the previous quarters are drastically lower: He has a respectable 83.5 in the third quarter, a horrible 50.3 in the second and a pretty bad 64.0 in the first quarter.
So, tell me, who deserves credit for his team's success?
Obviously, Tebow deserves some respect and credit. For a guy to be pretty awful for three quarters and then suddenly be dialed in is simply unheard of. His optimism, leadership and determination to win a game are second to none. With that being said, someone has to make up for the three awful quarters.
Who, you ask, should this be? Well, pretty much everyone besides Mr. Tebow.
Let's look at Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears. In the first 12 drives of the game, Tebow had a total QBR of 20.4. That's terrible. However, in the final three drives of the game, Tebow had a QBR of 60.5. Now, that's not amazing, but it's respectable and was obviously enough to win the game. Tebow even threw the ball 40 times, so these numbers are not misleading or inflated.
However, the question still remains: Should he get the credit for this victory?
The answer should be an overwhelming "no." Yes, the Denver Broncos—not the Denver Tebows—scored 10 points in two minutes to take the game into overtime. Then, in overtime, Marion Barber basically gave the game to the Broncos when he fumbled the ball while his team was in field-goal range. I'm pretty sure Tebow didn't force the fumble, nor did he kick the 59-yard field goal to send the game to overtime, nor did he kick the 51-yarder to win the game. Actually, now that I think about it, Tebow didn't hold the Bears to 10 points the entire game either.
Wrong. Truth is, the Bronco defense has been playing amazing as of late and is playing a key role in the Broncos' 7-1 run. Denver is only allowing 20.25 points per game in the last eight games, and in its first five it allowed 28.
Let me rephrase that, the Broncos are allowing one touchdown less per game with Tebow at quarterback than Kyle Orton.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Broncos are averaging 20.5 points per game with Tebow and averaged 21 points per game with Orton.
Now, I'm not exactly a genius, but even I can see what the real reason behind Denver's recent success. Not buying into the whole "defense wins championships" cliche? Well, then how about a team's ability to control the clock?
In games that the Broncos have ran the ball more than 30 times this year, they are 8-0. Thirty or less? An 0-5 record. That's a staggering stat. Now, we all know the Broncos are currently running an offense based on a running quarterback, but running the ball 55 times in one game, all while completing two of eight passes? How does an NFL team win a game like that?
By controlling the ball, sticking with the run game and giving up 10 points, that's how.
On top of that, the Broncos' special teams have been superb lately, especially Matt Prater. Prater booted two clutch 50-plus-yard field goals on Sunday, one to send the game to overtime and one to win the game. Special teams have been huge since Tebow took over the reins of the offense, as Denver has won four of its last games by three points or fewer. Prater and company are making special teams pretty special in Denver.
Whatever is going on in Denver, it is working. Tim Tebow deserves credit for being one of the most clutch players in the NFL (history?), as well as possessing an overwhelming sense of optimism, leadership and drive to win. The intangibles are there, but are the fundamentals? Can his defense, running game,and special teams continue to help "Tebowize" opponents? For a while, probably, but not in the long run. Eventually, their luck will run out, and Tim Tebow will start to frustrate Denver fans.
For the time being, sit back and watch one of the most entertaining sports stories of recent memory, but don't expect the show to last for too much longer.