Jussel: Tebow gets his chance to shine in QB-centric NFL
They say the NFL is a quarterback’s league.
They ain’t just a woofin’.
Green Bay is the best team in the league to this point. Aaron Rodgers is playing at the All-World, maybe even All-Galaxy level.
In the AFC, New England rates as the best team and Tom Brady would certainly rank on top of the quarterback heap in that division — especially since Peyton Manning’s absence has turned the Indianapolis Colts from powerhouse into mess of such proportion the team may be able to draft the next Peyton Manning.
You can go up and down the list of teams and — with the possible exception of the San Francisco 49ers, who have lost only one game despite the mediocre pocket presence of Alex Smith — and it’s pretty much as the quarterback goes, so goes the team.
The best example to this point of “Bad Quarterback, Bad Record” would be the St. Louis Rams, a team that appeared to be on the rise last season behind the play of rookie quarterback Sam Bradford. Last season, Bradford was middle of the road in terms of QB stats and the Rams finished 7-9, six games better than the previous season.
This season, Bradford, behind new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (I couldn’t resist), is struggling to complete 50 percent of his passes, the Rams rate near the bottom of the league in passing and haven’t come close to winning a game.
Let’s move to Miami: The Dolphins started the season with Chad Henne calling signals. Henne, who will never be confused with Rodgers, Brady or Manning, had a superb first game, throwing for more than 400 yards, but then was mediocre at best in his next three appearances before going down to a shoulder injury.
In stepped Matt Moore, the same Matt Moore who was part of Carolina’s one-win season last year and who, through two games this season has a passer rating of just over 50.0, among the worst in the league.
It’s no wonder the Fins, like the Rams, are 0-5.
Then there are the Denver Broncos, who have this huge opportunity in Miami today, but may or may not have their own mess at the quarterback spot.
They started the season with high hopes for Kyle Orton, partially because he was so impressive in the preseason and partially because he had ranked among the league’s best passers over portions of the past two seasons.
During the injury-shortened 2010 season, Orton averaged 286 yards passing per game, had 20 TD passes and only nine interceptions. This season, he has averaged only 186 yards per game, has eight TD passes and seven interceptions.
Orton flubbed his big chance — not only to lead the Broncos out of the doldrums, but to make huge money down the road, either in Denver or elsewhere.
The Broncos, with an improved defense and running game, are 1-4 largely because their passing game with Orton at the controls went south.
Enter Tim Tebow.
Today we continue with the rather lengthy process of figuring out where the Broncos fit in this quarterback-based league.
Tebow was impressive two weeks ago in his one half of play replacing the ineffective Orton, leading the Broncos to two fourth-quarter touchdowns and almost to a game-winning third in a rally against San Diego.
And now, he will show up in Miami to be feted along with his 2008 Florida national champion teammates in what could amount to a virtual home game for the Broncos. The Broncos have never fared well in Florida, but just imagine what this scene could be like if all the Gator fans in attendance turn tail on an ineffective Dolphin team early. There could be a lot of noise for Denver, not against them, throughout the contest.
The Broncos are also relatively healthy, in better shape than they have been all season, while the Dolphins are faced with the possibility of playing without running back Reggie Bush and former Bronco standout wide receiver Brandon Marshall because of injuries.
Another factor helping Denver’s cause is the schedule: The Broncos are coming off their bye and have had a chance to heal up, rest and put in plays designed for Tebow. The Dolphins played in New Jersey on Monday night against the Jets and will have had very little time to heal, rest — or scheme to play against Tebow.
It should also be mentioned that, aside from the 49-23 blowout at the hands of defending-champion Green Bay, Denver has had an opportunity to win every game. The Broncos will have an opportunity to win this game as well and will do that.
Fairy tales do indeed come true. I’ll take my 3-2 record picking with or against Denver and say the Broncos win this one behind the new kid on the block, 24-17.