A Final Word on Tebow and the Stillers
Special Commentary by PalmerSucks
January 14, 2012
I can�t tell you how many times I�ve been asked � yet again -- �just how in the hell did Tebow beat the number one defense�? I�ve covered the basics in my previous piece, and for an even better explanation, you can read Mill�s work.
Allow me to add a few points, though.
First, take that �number-one defense� thing with a truckload full of salt: I�ve mentioned many times that the Stillers are overrated in that regard. Yes, the Stillers� defense ranks high in certain statistical categories, but it just goes to show, numbers aren�t everything. I wonder if there�s a stat for �game-losing drives given up late�? I�m sure the Stillers would rank near the top.
Skip Bayless claimed on ESPN that LeBeau�s made many young QBs look bad � the reality is guys like Gradkowski have pulled off winning drives against the mighty Stillers defense. So again, I guess we shouldn�t be shocked if even Tim Tebow does the same thing.
Second, you have to understand just how bizarre a passing performance this was. Tebow�s 316 yards came on just 10 completions, for a freakish 31.6 YPA. Your average franchise stud puts up 316 yards, but it�s usually, say, on a 21-for-30 kind of day. Tebow was great for 10 passes, and absolutely horrible for the other 11. Again, that�s just a plain weird kind of performance.
Out of those 316 total, one receiver, D. Thomas, accounted for 204 yards! �Again, that�s just plain wacky. Everything about this game had the feel of a 200-to-1 horse winning the Kentucky Derby.
I warned before the game that the Stillers should watch out for the unusual Tebow first-down pass, and even that once-in-a-blue-moon event occurred � at the worst possible time.
Here�s another way of looking at things, a Palmer �original stat�: PPC, or �Points Per Completion.� In Tebow�s case, that�s 29 points on 10 completions. That�s almost 3 points per completed pass! Cue that Twilight Zone music, we�re into some weird territory here.
And again, look at the first TD pass. Gay�s back is turned, but he�s screening out almost the entire body of the receiver. There�s basically a single six-inch spot to hit where his man could catch it � to Gay�s left. Did Tebow know to hit that very spot, especially as he released BEFORE Gay made his move? If he did, then it�s one of the greatest TD passes I�ve ever seen � if not, it was just another whacked-out play in a game gone mad. I�ll leave it to you to decide which.
In my previous commentary I wrote:
�So, if Tebow is such an awful QB, how could he beat the �#1 defense�? �The answer is simple: he was never asked to perform like an actual NFL QB. Not once did Tebow lead an 11-play drive � he scored the bulk of his points in one or two clusters, off a few passes that went for huge yards. That�s cheap and deep, pure and simple. Tebow played like a sandlot QB, and the Stillers defense obliged him. 10 for 21 is a pretty lousy day, passing wise. But when your receivers turn 15-yard catches into 80-yard TDs, you can get away with it.�
Yesterday the Boston Globe put out an excellent piece called �Belichick won�t make (the) same mistake (the) Steelers did vs. Tebow.� If you have time, I urge you to read it here:
If you don�t have time, take this section to heart:
�Against an inaccurate and inconsistent quarterback who sometimes looks as if he's playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, the Steelers left themselves vulnerable to the big play. Rather than make Tebow surgically maneuver his way down the field - something he has not proven he can do - the Steelers allowed Tebow to play a risk-reward game that Tebow exploited to the max.�
That�s EXACTLY what I was saying: the Steelers failed to force Tebow to act like a �normal� NFL QB, and allowed him to be the pub-team QB he is � with a bunch of bombs that hit the jackpot. Had the Steelers tackled the Broncos� receivers immediately after the catch, and forced Tebow to pass it 4, 5 or 6 times per drive, I doubt he lives up to the task. Instead they gave up 4 home runs to a hitter who can barely bat .120.
Quite simply, Tebow got to operate in a comfy little bubble, with absolutely no pressure on him all game. He was allowed to roll left routinely, and had not one man in his face on any of his 10 completions. Once again, that�s a completely flukish situation, which greatly contributed to the flukish and unlikely win by Tim Tebow � still, in my opinion, a poor excuse for an NFL QB.
But it just goes to show � play into any QBs hands, and even the worst ones can beat you.
If Tebow enjoys these same unlikely conditions Saturday, he has a chance to pull off another upset � but somehow I doubt the Patriots will be so accommodative. Nor do I think the Patriots will allow Thomas to go single-covered. I agree with the Boston writer: I don�t think the Patriots will play Tebow as stupidly as the Stillers did.
In a way, though, I still can�t blame the team for playing like it did. �I can only imagine the laughter that must�ve erupted during film sessions, as the defense watched the running comedy show that is Tim Tebow. They clearly had no respect for his skill set, and who could blame them? They played man coverage, which is fine, but often left no safety back, daring Tebow to pass OVER them. Unfortunately for the Stillers, that�s about the only way Tebow can beat you.
The Stillers also played into Denver�s hands by actually respecting the college read-option: witness Harrison biting on the fake hand-off. Why he even bothered to play the back � and not go straight for the QB -- is beyond me. I watched the New England-Denver game where the Patriots sent a guy to WHACK Tebow regardless of whether he pitched the ball or not. This kind of free shot is right in Harrison�s wheelhouse � he should�ve been coached to nail Tebow every time. The Patriots wore down Tebow by smacking him again and again � unlike the Stillers, who treated him like a precious Ming Dynasty vase.
A note on the Broncos: they may have, in classic fashion, won the battle but lost the war. As you probably heard, Denver was warming up Brady Quinn in the event Tebow flopped. That won�t be happening now � Tebow�s �legendary� win may now prod the Broncos into installing him long-term as their starter. Imagine the uproar now in Denver if they don�t! �By pulling off such a flukish win, the Broncos may be stuck with Tim Tebow for a lot longer than they�d figured.
The TV networks of course love it; ratings for Stillers-Tebow went through the roof, and now Brady-Tebow premieres! The dumb public of course is all over Tebow�s win, and the bandwagon � deserted during Tebow�s last three awful games � is all aboard again. Let�s see how full it stays after Saturday�s game. My guess is that the stubborn ones will stay -- thanks to the Stillers and the warm, soft, fuzzy cocoon they created for Tim Tebow.