FanDuel - WFBC

January 15, 2012

Patriots Win Laugher Over Broncos: The Denver Broncos didn't have a prayer against the New England Patriots Saturday, losing 45-10 in their AFC divisional playoff. Pats quarterback Tom Brady threw for six touchdowns and 363 yards. Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe called it a victory of "biblical proportions." Brady quick kicked on third down near the end of the game for 48 yards, which put the Broncos at their own 10 before a penalty. "It's got to be like seven, eight years since the last time we did it," coach Bill Belichick said.

posted by rcade to football at 09:14 AM - 42 comments

Is that it? Is that the final end to Tebow-mania?

Quick summary:

Of all the quarterbacks who qualified in 2011, Tebow finished

  • 27th in QB rating
  • 34th in completion
  • 29th in yards per attempt
  • 34th in yards per game
  • 33rd in net yards per attempt (passing yards - yards sacked)/(passing attempts + times sacked)

I think Tebow would make for a fine running back/receiver (or star QB in the wide-open CFL), but unless there is a dramatic improvement in his ability over the off-season, Denver's playing with fire if he's the defacto #1 QB. Of course, they can't trade him now (as it would poisonous PR)...

posted by grum@work at 09:28 AM on January 15

It would be crazy for the Broncos (or the global hype machine) to give up on Tebow. The first year as a starter is graded pretty easily for high-draft-pick quarterbacks. Troy Aikman was terrible in his first season and the Cowboys went 1-15. Tebow was 7-4 and won a playoff game.

posted by rcade at 09:36 AM on January 15

Tebow also had a three-game losing streak and lost a playoff game. Where are the headlines saying Tebow blows it again?

posted by kirkaracha at 09:56 AM on January 15

Those headlines would be pretty silly, given the fact that the Broncos defense gave up 35 points in the first half.

As a Jags fan, I would've been ecstatic if Blaine Gabbert was 7-4 with a playoff victory in his first season.

posted by rcade at 10:06 AM on January 15

Troy Aikman was terrible in his first season and the Cowboys went 1-15. Tebow was 7-4 and won a playoff game.

Aikman still had a higher completion percentage (52.9), more yards per game (159.0) and higher net yards per attempt in his rookie season than Tebow did this season (while being a year younger than Tebow).

And Tebow wasn't a rookie this year. He had 3 starts last year as well. His completion percentage and QB rating went down this season.

Those headlines would be pretty silly, given the fact that the Broncos defense gave up 35 points in the first half.

Just point to the 9-for-26 passing , the third down efficiency (38%), the sacks, the fumble, and the fact that they only generated 10 points against the second worst passing defense in the NFL.

posted by grum@work at 10:24 AM on January 15

the second worst passing defense in the NFL.

But didn't you hear- it wasn't Tebow's fault. The Pats D was built to play against the option!!! (paraphrases, but heard a similar line more than once tonight).

posted by jmd82 at 10:35 AM on January 15

If you're going to give Tebow credit for winning games the Broncos won due to the dominance of the Broncos' D or to opponents' fuckups (i.e., Marion Barber), then you have to give him the blame when they lose. Two-way street. Tebow "lost" this game just as much as he "won" the game against the Steelers.

posted by kirkaracha at 10:43 AM on January 15

Y'all have been mystified by Tebow-mania. The Pats, after their recent playoff failures (especially last year's embarassment against the Jets) were never going to give up the ghost against a weak division winner, Tebow or not. Brady knows his time to win another Super Bowl is running out and they beat up on Denver to show that they're still a contender. This is just a way of saying very few QBs would have stood a chance against the ferocity with which the Pats played last night - 6 sacks? with that D? 35 points in the first half? tying the record for passing TDs in a playoff game?

Whether Tebow can succeed in the NFL remains to be seen - don't think anyone can predict what he could do if he had a bit more time/experience and a solid O line to protect him. Even if never an elite QB, it's not unreasonable to think he could be a better-than-average journeyman - plenty of teams would be happy with that if he fills seats and delivers an entertaining game.

Mind you, this Pats fan still thinks they're going to lose to Baltimore next week because that D really isn't very good at all and the Pats only look great because they've played one of the weakest schedules in recent memory (only 2 teams with winning records? and they lost to both?).

That said...go Houston!

posted by kokaku at 10:59 AM on January 15

Pity John Elway, if you can. He's looking at the QBs entering the draft, with the top pick most likely the guy from his alma mater who beat his college records, and is probably stuck with having to draft for an offense with a playbook so tied to Tebow's idiosyncrasies that it's hard even to know how a backup with more orthodox skills would cope. The kind of personnel and coaching decisions necessary to back him up as the starter are ones that could cripple the Broncos for years.

As for the Pats, that was a showcase of how they consistently assemble a receiver corps out of spare parts and take it to the postseason.

posted by etagloh at 11:45 AM on January 15

I do agree that Tebow had just as good a chance of stopping Brady to Gronkowski from the bench as the Denver defense had from the field.

posted by dyams at 12:21 PM on January 15

Wilfork especially was a man possessed. But I didn't see each and every play.

God has a way of dealing with restless channel surfers. Cut away from the Pats Broncos rout and you get the Miss America pageant.

Cut away from the Saints-Niners game, even for a moment while commercials are on so you can check out the CBS pre-game show and you are confronted with the ghostly image of the strange visitor from planet Joan Rivers: Lesley Visser.

posted by beaverboard at 12:28 PM on January 15

Tebow "lost" this game just as much as he "won" the game against the Steelers.

I think that's too simplistic. His individual performance didn't always make or break the team. Denver won some regular season games despite his weak play, while his passing against Pittsburgh was a major factor in the win. Last night, he wasn't a factor because the defense gave up a ridiculous number of early points.

One thing I noticed yesterday, when Warren sacked him, was how strong Tebow is. Warren put his weight into Tebow and still struggled for a few steps to get him down.

posted by rcade at 01:05 PM on January 15

If you're going to give Tebow credit for winning games the Broncos won due to the dominance of the Broncos' D or to opponents' fuckups (i.e., Marion Barber), then you have to give him the blame when they lose.

That's fine but if you are going to give Denver's defense credit for all of the wins you surely need to give them credit for losing this one. The Pats complete dismantling of the Denver defense put an offense which is designed to run the ball in quite a bad spot.

And Tebow wasn't a rookie this year. He had 3 starts last year as well. His completion percentage and QB rating went down this season.

He's started 16 games. He spent one training camp after being drafted with a coaching staff that was gone after his rookie year and was locked out of an off season with the new coaches. He was dropped down the depth chart while Orton was around and surely didn't get many reps working with the first team until almost midseason. I'll cut him a little slack for that and for the fact that Denver's skill players on offense pretty much suck. They definitely need upgrades at w/r and t/e.

Not that it would have mattered last night the way the Pats defense had their way with the offensive line. I can't name a quarterback who could have been successful for the Broncos last night.

posted by tselson at 01:13 PM on January 15

it's not unreasonable to think he could be a better-than-average journeyman

Sure. He'd also look great from the bench.

Grum is spot on. He certainly has talents, though throwing a football isn't one of them, and maybe, one day, something will come of them. But, unlike the Steelers, the patriots pretty much played him straight up, and what you saw was the real Tebow. A guy that impresses at times, but isn't' accurate enough to keep a team in a game when the other offense is clicking.

It's not how much credit or blame he should receive, but that he's simply, at this point, a terrible quarterback. It's been a fun story, and i get how the casual fan has been snowed by the media coverage, but it's bizarre to see fans that actually follow the sport taking him serious at this point.

posted by justgary at 01:38 PM on January 15

Tebow reminds me a lot of Paul Hornung before he switched permanently to HB.

posted by carrcar at 02:28 PM on January 15

The opposing QB sets records, his team gets blown away and somehow Tebow is still the main topic of conversation.

I'll bite! The dude was really pretty damn classy in his post game talk:

"It still was a good day because before the game I got to spend time with Zach McCleod and make him smile. Overall when you get to do that it's still a positive day and a good day. Sometimes it's just hard to see but it depends what lens you're looking through. I choose to look through those lenses and I got to make a kid's day and any time you do that, it's more important than winning a game, so I'm proud of that."
He was also full of praise for the Patriots, for his teammates and (of course) for Jesus.

---

That all said, Brady was obviously on fire last night and The Hoodie wanted to send a mission to the whole NFL. They want to go to the Superbowl badly and are going to try and play any team they face into the ground.

posted by Joey Michaels at 03:01 PM on January 15

Before laying all of the blame at the feet of Tim Tebow, blame the following parts of the Denver team for the blowout:

An interior of their offensive line that could not contend with the likes of Vince Wilfork, Gerard Warren, or Brandon Love. The run offense had blue jerseys in the backfield on too many plays, and when Denver attempted to go to the edges, New England's linebackers and safeties had a hard edge set.

A defensive line that was too small to force the pocket back into Tom Brady. The rush from the outside just couldn't get there quickly enough to slow the patriots' passing offense.

Weakness in the secondary that allowed the deep ball to Branch for one score, and demonstrated that they were unable to poison Gronkowski's corn flakes (the only real way to stop him) and take away his 3 TDs.

An inability by the coaching staff to alter either their offensive or defensive schemes to counter what Patriots were doing. Then again, it is more likely that the Denver coaching staff had the ideas of what to do but did not have the personnel to execute them. Add to this the inexcusable allowing of 2 TDs in the last 3 minutes of the first half. That should be attributed to the coaching staff, not the players.

Tim Tebow, if he works hard, and all indications are that he will, should be able to improve his footwork and throwing mechanics. There has been some noticeable improvement this year, but he has a long way to go. If he can get that part of it, then another year of starting should allow him to begin to recognize defenses and to work with his receivers in adjusting routes on the fly. If there is little or no improvement by the end of the 2013 season, he will be out of the league. He may never be an elite quarterback, but with hard work he could become a very serviceable one.

posted by Howard_T at 03:09 PM on January 15

Howard_T,

You may be right, but if you're Elway is a "very serviceable" QB what you're after? As a marginal KC fan, we have a "Cassel," and let me tell you, it isn't that fun really.

As a matter of fact, does any team in the NFL want a serviceable quarterback? I don't know how good Tebow will eventually be, or whether he has already basically shown what he is, but if you are a GM and your gut feeling is that your QB has a ceiling of "serviceable," then you've got to move on I think.

To me the standard for Tebow is no different than any other quarterback-can he become a top 1/3 quarterback? I think even his most ardent supporters should (do?) admit that this should be the measuring stick. I don't know what him becoming average proves, since all the scouts didn't just say that he couldn't play the position, but that you couldn't win a superbowl with him.

Either way, it should be interesting to see how he looks next year.

posted by brainofdtrain at 03:56 PM on January 15

Tim Tebow, if he works hard, and all indications are that he will, should be able to improve his footwork and throwing mechanics.

At the same time, defenses will have a better understanding about what Tebow's strengths and weaknesses are.

Maybe Tebow will surprise me. But I don't see where all the positive spin is coming from. It seems people are responding emotionally and flatly ignoring the statistics that are quite clear and pretty damning.

We're not talking about a quarterback that needs 'improvement'. As grum said, he needs 'dramatic' improvement.

posted by justgary at 04:02 PM on January 15

I think you can draw useful contrasts from the Houston-Baltimore game that just finished. T.J. Yates's big mistakes were all of the same variety: locking onto a receiver or heaving a long pass into coverage. Those are mistakes that teams assume can be addressed with coaching and experience, and without having to throw away chunks of the playbook.

posted by etagloh at 04:25 PM on January 15

Coming into the game I thought Denver's only hope was to get pressure out of their front four and that didn't happen at all. Even when the edge guys made the corner there was no push at all in the middle so Brady simply stepped up in the pocket. Von Miller made this defense go before his injury but he just hasn't been the same since. You wouldn't think a thumb injury would effect his pass rush so much.

That said, the offense played so poorly I'm not sure they could have won the game even with a great defensive performance. In the week 15 matchup the Broncos just pummeled the Patriots with the run in the first half but they never seemed capable of that in this game. Without the threat of the run this offense is just horrible.

As a Bronco fan, I'm comfortable with Tebow being the quarterback next year. There are things he does well (run the ball, keeping plays alive, deep throws down the sideline) and things that he does poorly (every other throw, decision making, slow release). My hope is that since no one else runs a similar offense they can find effective players that no one else wants because they don't fit a typical NFL offense. I'm not terribly confident it will work but I have to say that this was the most fun season to be a Bronco's fan since their last super bowl.

posted by tron7 at 04:32 PM on January 15

Here, let me run it down.

- The Broncos were predicted to win an average of 4 games this year.
- Tim Tebow looks horrible in training camp, Orton looks great. At this point, I'm fully behind Orton as our starting QB. The team looks great in camp, a little hope creeps in for the season.
- The team starts 1-4 and looks like the worst team in the league. Orton is a great passer when there is no pressure and a guy is wide open but under pressure he looks like a 90 year old man being chased by monsters. I'm excited for the QB change because, hey, how much worse could it look?
- Week 7 @ Miami, first 3 quarters. Oh. My. God. So much worse.
- Week 7 @ Miami, 4th quarter. Oh. My. God. What just happened?
- Week 8 vs. Detroit. I missed this game but the Broncos are the laughing stock of the league for starting this rube.
- Weeks 9-14. A series of inexplicable wins. Watching Tebow is wildly frustrating. There's dropped balls, there's poor throws, miscommunication and then there's a happy ending. I walk away from each of these games shaking my head in amazement.
- Week 15 vs New England. This was the most exciting build up of the year. What does it mean if we win this game? I'm actually saying "we" at this point, haven't done that in years. The Broncos dominate with the run in the first quarter. Ok, this is how this team can be a dominant team. A flurry of fumbles in the second quarter ends the contest. Tebow looks ok throwing the ball but not elite and the contrast with the skill level of Brady is drastic.
- Weeks 16 and 17. Soul crushing losses. Tebow looks like garbage. I guess teams figured out how to defend this offense. They made the playoffs but I'm not even happy about it. Just, please try not to embarrass yourselves too badly.
- Wild Card vs Pittsburgh. This game was so fun and completely unexpected.
- Divisional @ New England. There's hope again. The Pittsburgh game was so unexpected that I think maybe my perceptions were wrong. This defense doesn't have flaws. Tebow can hurt teams down the field. Well, all that hope vanished with the first New England drive. The roller coaster finally comes to a stop, I think I'll get another ticket next year.

posted by tron7 at 05:11 PM on January 15

In response to the Tebow 3:16 thing that was going around (in honour of his 316 yards passing against the Steelers), someone whipped up one for his 9-for-26 passing performance against the Patriots.

Daniel 9:26

posted by grum@work at 07:59 PM on January 15

or star QB in the wide-open CFL

CFL is a passing league, no way in hell Tebow could be effective there. He's actually a better fit for the 4 down NFL game.

Can the guy catch? If he can, he could be a heck of a fullback option in the NFL.

posted by cixelsyd at 08:57 PM on January 15

Too early to write Tebow off, and a bad game against a team like the Patriots (at least how they played last night) certainly shouldn't be cause for Denver to throw in the towel on the Tebow experience.

That being said, I don't think I'd build my franchise around him. If a good QB pick is there the taking, I'd bet Elway takes it.

If Tebow doesn't improve his passing game, next year will be rough.

posted by dviking at 11:07 PM on January 15

The roller coaster finally comes to a stop, I think I'll get another ticket next year.

Great post.

posted by yerfatma at 09:49 AM on January 16

CFL is a passing league, no way in hell Tebow could be effective there.

Yeah, but the quality of defenders isn't as good as in the NFL, plus a running QB is the recipe for success in the CFL.

(For example, Doug Flutie)

posted by grum@work at 11:01 AM on January 16

The real football god Bill B. and his adjustments as well as brilliant strategy to put Hernandez in the backfield and give him the ball, and the Denver defense off balance all game. Then, of course Tom Brady one of the best and most playoff experienced players in the league just destroyed an already dazed and confused Denver defense. That tight end combination created havoc, and Gronkowski has to be as good of a tight end as has ever played the game. Tebow was really a non factor. His lack of experience and the fact that his coaching staff had no answers defensively killed the Broncos not any lack of mechanics or accuracy.

The most surprising aspect of the game is that the Denver offense is so bad that they even made the very weak defense of New England look good. The defensive adjustments made by the Pats really just point to the games MVP which should be a five way tie between Bill B. Tom Brady, both tight ends and the defensive front. If the Patriot defense can show up they could be tough to beat, although they do have the statistically weakest defense of the remaining teams.

Defense wins championships and it is no big surprise that of the teams remaining, all four have done it with strong defense in the playoffs, and two of the eliminated teams and favorites this week were great offensively but ranked very low on the defense. I doubt you can win a championship with any defense ranked at the bottom of the league.

posted by Atheist at 11:33 AM on January 16

So not the Patriots then.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 12:28 PM on January 16

As a matter of fact, does any team in the NFL want a serviceable quarterback?

To me, a "serviceable quarterback" is one who will complete a decent percentage of his passes, be smart enough to know when to eat the ball and not throw it to the opposition, and not single-handedly lose games. The great QBs do all this, and then make plays that just can't be made by mere mortals. Is "serviceable" enough? If you put such a QB behind a good offensive line, have a stout defense to get him the ball, a running game good enough to be respected, and receivers that will run their routes and not drop the easy ones, a "serviceable" QB can win a lot of games for you. While he has since proven just how great he is, I would suggest Tom Brady was not much more than "serviceable" when he won his first Super Bowl.

posted by Howard_T at 12:38 PM on January 16

By definition, about half the teams in the league are going to consider an "average quarterback" to be an upgrade.

posted by rumple at 01:03 PM on January 16

Mr Bismark - I would say that of all the remaining teams it is the Patriots defense that is most suspect and represents their biggest obstacle for winning the Super Bowl. They were very well coached and looked great against the Broncos but of course the Broncos had a weak offense anyway. I think the Pats may well win the Superbowl if their defense can continue to play as they did this last week. To their advantage, none of the remaining teams with the exception of the Giants have much offensive power to stay with them. I think the best match up and likely most exciting SB game would be the Pats vs the Giants in a rematch of the last SB the Giants won. The only good news for their defense is that the Ravens have a tendency to play low scoring close games and their offense won't put that much pressure on the Pats if Brady continues to have the hot hand he has.

posted by Atheist at 01:19 PM on January 16

Defense wins championships and it is no big surprise that of the teams remaining, all four have done it with strong defense in the playoffs

SF gave up 32 points, over 460 yards passing, and 4 passing touchdowns. And when it had to stop the Saints, they didn't. It took the offense to win the game. You can point to turnovers, but several of those were due to special teams. I'm not sure in what world that would be considered strong defense.

The whole 'defense wins championships' line is debatable anyway (link 1 link 2). Just because it's been repeated constantly by talking heads over the years doesn't make it true.

The Saints won the Super Bowl with the 22nd defense. I guess that year you could say 'offense wins championships'.

posted by justgary at 02:14 PM on January 16

about half the teams in the league are going to consider an "average quarterback" to be an upgrade

Seems to me that would always be true.

posted by yerfatma at 02:43 PM on January 16

justgary - Regardless of how you feel about the Niners defense in the game against the Saints who did have one of the league most productive offenses, the Niners rated number one in the NFC defensively. The main reason why they are where they are. The Packers and Saints who both had top offenses and terrible defenses are gone. The only poor defense amongst remaining teams are the Pats, and as someone else pointed out, they had a very easy schedule, and have yet to beat a team with a winning record all season including their playoff win against Denver.

If they were to manage to go all the way they would be the exception to the rule, but their fate remains in the hands of their defense and it's ability to step up in the next games.

posted by Atheist at 02:53 PM on January 16

justgary - Regardless of how you feel about the Niners defense in the game against the Saints who did have one of the league most productive offenses, the Niners rated number one in the NFC defensively.

That's nice, and they can hang that statistic on the wall and admire it, but this isn't D&D, it's played on a field. What I saw at the end of the game on Sunday was two teams biff-baffing each other up and down the field, all the way into the end zone. The win went to the last team to score before the clock ran out, not to the team with the best defense; justgary has it exactly right.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:53 PM on January 16

LBB - I know how you may like to find fault with anything I say and the game did deteriorate into a shoot out but the team with the better defense did win. As a matter of fact the Niners were leading most of the game due to the big play of their defense, and although the NO offense has produced against all defenses and managed to come back a couple of times, I think the difference was the NO lack of defense especially when it mattered and the forced turnovers by the SF defense.

NO averaged 34.2 points and 467 total yards per game during the season and even against the Niner defense as good as it is scored close to it with 32 points and 472 total yards. Pretty on par with their season average.

On the other hand the NO defense gave up 36 points and 407 total yards to a team that only averaged 23.8 points and 310 total yards per game. To me it seems the sub par defense of the Saints helped to make the Niners much more prolific than their season average.

posted by Atheist at 06:16 PM on January 16

Oh yeah, Howard, in re: "Brandon Love". If only they could combine the best of Kyle Love and Brandon Dreaderick. Actually, I like both of them just fine.

posted by yerfatma at 06:51 PM on January 16

When does good offence become bad defense and vice versa?

And I have a hard time looking back at seasonal statistics in one game playoff elimination formats and finding anything worth much introspection. Seems like a lot of facts to justify theories as oppose to the other way around. One could just as easily say that the Pats played shut-down D, while the Niners managed to out-shoot the Saints. It's one game. Just means more.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 06:53 PM on January 16

justgary - Regardless of how you feel about the Niners defense in the game against the Saints who did have one of the league most productive offenses

It's not how I feel. You gave the statistics yourself. The Saints offense gained as many yards and scored as many points as they averaged against all defenses. You can spin the numbers, or claim the defense was responsible for the Saints mistakes, but no one is going to claim SF won the game on defense. Again, over 460 yards passing and 32 points. That's bad defense. Period.

San Francisco wins with offense, not defense

Defense wins championships? That myth died a four-minute death Saturday night when the San Francisco 49ers, the team that allowed the fewest points in the NFC this season, outdueled the New Orleans Saints, the team that scored the most points, 36-32.

... the bottom line was once again revealed that the only way to stymie a great offense isn't with great defense. Instead, the supreme modus operandi is to fight fire with fire and this was as much about Smith and Vernon Davis as a myth about defense.

-------------

The Packers and Saints who both had top offenses and terrible defenses are gone.

Well, other than obviously being anecdotal evidence, you realize the Saints could have easily won that game, right? Take away a special teams miscue, or not blitz with 40 second left, and the Saints and Patriots would be going on, with the Saints favored to go on to the super bowl. Again, you're putting a lot of stock into a game with two ineffective defenses won by the last team that had the ball.

If they were to manage to go all the way they would be the exception to the rule, but their fate remains in the hands of their defense and it's ability to step up in the next games.

No it doesn't. That's ridiculous. It's also up to the the offense, not turning the ball over, special teams, penalties... If a great defense doesn't stop a great offense, is it the defense letting the team down, or the other teams offense stepping up and winning the game? You seem to believe it's either the defenses effort that wins the game or fault for losing it. The game simply isn't that black and white.

Look, no doubt defense plays a huge part. If I had to choose between having great defense or great offense going into the playoffs, I'd pick defense. And yes, most successful teams have a good defense. I'm not arguing that. But winning is a combination of many factors, and many parts of a football game.

The cliche 'defenses wins championships' should die. It sounds great. But it's too simplistic to be of any use.

Does Defense Win Championships?

So if a great offense usually trumps a great defense, where does the perception that "defense wins championships" come from? Truly dominant defenses such as the 2000 Ravens, 2002 Buccaneers, or 1985 Bears are relatively rare, and are therefore more memorable. Also, defense has traditionally been overlooked, at least by the mainstream hype-laden media. Even football insiders seem to focus on offense, demonstrated by who is inducted in the Hall of Fame, or who the MVPs tend to be. So the phrase "defense wins championships" may really mean "defense helps win championships more than most people think they do."

"defense helps win championships more than most people think they do"

I can live with that.

posted by justgary at 09:35 PM on January 16

The Packers and Saints who both had top offenses and terrible defenses are gone.

But the Patriots still live. They had the second worst defence in the league and the second best offence in the league (yards given up and yards gained).

posted by grum@work at 01:18 AM on January 17

Statistics don't mean much with a win-or-go-home format. Any team can play a good defensive (or offensive game) any particular week, many times merely based on what the opposing team is or isn't doing offensively. The Green Bay performance was a good example. Statistics over the entire season seem to show Green Bay should move the ball and score fairly reularly. But on the day the game is played, Rodgers is off and his receivers suffer from the drops.

posted by dyams at 06:07 AM on January 17

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