Miami quarterback Matt Moore has led the Dolphins to wins in five of their last seven games, throwing 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions during that span.
Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton hasn’t had as much luck racking up victories for the 5-9 Panthers but has scored 30 touchdowns and is on pace to amass nearly 5,000 total yards this season.
Texas native Andy Dalton, a rookie quarterback like Newton, has helped Cincinnati double its win total from last year as the 8-6 Bengals have a chance to reach the postseason for just the third time since 1990.
But thanks to Tim Tebow, nobody cares about that. Not nearly as much as they care about the God-fearing former Florida star who Linda Cohn called the “Mile High Messiah” on SportsCenter Saturday night.
The next day, Tebow and the Denver Broncos fell to the New England Patriots, 41-23. Denver built a 16-7 lead early in the second quarter, a shocking development considering how slowly Tebow usually started games. But Tom Brady – a three-time Super Bowl champ who somehow took a back seat to Tebow last week – and the Patriots reeled off 27 unanswered points en route to beating the Broncos.
How fans, TV analysts, writers, and sports radio talk show hosts will react in the coming days remains to be seen. But one thing is certain – they will be talking about Tim Tebow, just like they have since the season began. There are the apologists and cynics, supporters and doubters, lovers and haters. And because of the polarizing figure Tebow has become, there isn’t much gray area for people to roam. You have to pick a side.
It’s not Tebow’s fault. It’s those that cover him – those that declare “Tebowing” an actual word, those that air “’Twas the Night Before Tebow” songs the night before he plays, and those that provide fuel to the Tebow fire that has engulfed the NFL.
Tebow’s and the Broncos’ story is a remarkable one but one that has been framed in the wrong way, that is, every twist and turn has been framed in terms of Tebow. Denver’s most recent contest should be seen as another dominating performance by Brady, Belicheck, and the Patriots that saw Tebow deliver a promising performance. Nonetheless, Tebow is sure to get the lion’s share of attention.
The Broncos’ most recent victory could have been perceived as one of the year’s most entertaining games and improbable comebacks. Denver could not have triumphed without all three of its units coming through down the stretch – believe it or not, multiple players were responsible for the victory.
That seemed like the obvious way to look at the game, considering the fact that Bears tailback Marion Barber lost a fumble in overtime, a scenario made possible by Matt Prater’s 59-yard field goal in the final seconds of regulation. Prater’s 51-yard boot sealed the Broncos’ 13-10 win in overtime. But you didn’t hear nearly as much about the clutch kicker as you did about his quarterback.
Instead, the mainstream sports media has put Tebow on a pedestal he’ll fall off of eventually. He certainly stumbled Sunday. The second-year signal-caller threw for close to 200 yards, ran for nearly another 100, and scored twice against a mediocre New England defense. But he lost 53 yards on four sacks and a fumble that led to a Tom Brady touchdown run that would provide the Patriots with all the points they would need.
Tebow is an average quarterback with below-average passing skills and above-average mobility. His uncanny ability to make plays when it matters most is undeniable and he doesn’t turn the ball over often. His teammates clearly feed off his unyielding will to win and play better because they’re around him.
But Tebow is by no means an elite NFL quarterback and far from one that can lead a team to the Super Bowl. He hasn’t even completed half of his passes this season. Calling Tebow “a winner” would not be entirely accurate because it does a disservice to the Broncos’ much-improved defense and Prater, one of the league’s best kickers. One should correct themselves and characterize Denver’s team “a winner” before making that mistake.
And don’t call me a Tebow hater. I’m a Tebow realist.
It’s week 11 and the start of the home stretch of your fantasy season, so here is some advice on who to start and who to sit.
1. Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders — Palmer had a bit of a rough start in his first two games in Oakland, but last week against San Diego he came through and led the team to an important division win. His numbers were good. He threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns against a tough Chargers defense. This week Palmer goes against the fourth-worst passing defense in the league Minnesota, making Palmer a smart start or wavier pickup.
2. Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins — Don’t look now but the Dolphins are playing well, winning two of their last three, and Reggie Bush is a big part of that. He has seen lots of touches in both the running and passing game, and has scored three touchdowns. This week the Dolphins face the Bills, who have a poor rush defense, giving up 169 yards on the ground to Dallas plus passing yards to backs out of the backfield their last time out. So Bush has an excellent matchup this week.
1. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles — The Eagles are reeling and have started off the season 3-6, despite the expectations they accrued in the offseason. On top of that, Vick has a pair of broken ribs to deal with this week, which is painful for any position and especially tough for a quarterback. Don’t expect much from Vick this week — if anything at all — because he might not even play.
2. Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos — The list this week has its share of high profile and overly discussed players on it, but none of the previous three have Tebow level hype. Tebow has performed well in his time as a starter going 3-1, while being an above average fantasy player as well. But this week he comes up against the Jets defense, a much stiffer test than any of the other opponent he has seen thus far. He only completed two passes against Kansas City last week, and going up against a stellar Jets secondary, he might not even get one. Sit him this week.
Week 10 of the fantasy season is upon us, so here are the players you should start and those you should sit.
1. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans — It’s hard to believe that anyone would ever consider sitting Johnson after his fantasy performances his first three years in the league, but 2011 has been terrible for him. Johnson has been the biggest bust of the year for fantasy owners, averaging only three yards per carry. However, last week he showed signs of his past form against Cincinnati, rushing for 64 yards, which included a 20 yard run. This week he takes on the 26th-ranked rushing defense the Carolina Panthers. He is a must start.
2. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings — Harvin has been riddled with injuries much of the year. Combine that with a rookie quarterback throwing him the ball, and he has been an ineffective player all season. But this week, the Vikings go against the high-powered Packers. Expect the Vikings to fall behind quickly and throw the ball to catch up, making Harvin an intelligent play this week.
3. Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos — He certainly doesn’t look pretty throwing the ball, but he is effective as a fantasy player, averaging 19 points a game. While the majority of his points come from his running ability, as an owner, they’re points either way. Tebow is a must start in any league.
1. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals — He has been scorching as a quarterback early on in his career, leading the usually terrible Bengals to a 6-2 start. But this week he will face his biggest test so far, in the form of Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Unfortunately for his owners, it’s hard to expect him to fare well against that particular defense the first time he faces them — sit Dalton this week.
2. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders — The early season rushing leader has been out with a foot injury the last few weeks, and he was expected to be back tonight to face the San Diego Chargers. However, he has yet to even test out his foot and is highly doubtful to play. Sit McFadden tonight before the game, and if you can, play his backup Michael Bush.
After Week 7 of NFL action, let’s play out the old favorite — who’s hot and who’s not.
When your name is mentioned with Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett, you know you had a great day. Murray rushed for 253 yards against the Rams on Sunday, breaking the Cowboys’ single game rushing record. Murray’s game may have also gained him a shot at the starting job, ahead of a struggling Felix Jones. Watch that situation closely and don’t be afraid to pick up Murray — he might well be the steal of the season.
Well it certainly wasn’t pretty, but for the Broncos and fantasy owners, Tebow’s week was effective. Down 15 points, he led Denver back in the fourth quarter to tie the game up with just seconds left and eventually won in overtime. While his passing numbers weren’t spectacular, he still managed to put up 22 points in ESPN leagues. Tebow will never light up the scoreboard with his passing, but he looks like an effective starting quarterback for your lineup the rest of the way.
The New Orleans Saints offense
If you had a player on the Saints, you probably racked up the points thanks to their 62-point outburst against Indianapolis. Drew Brees spread the ball around beautifully and his receivers and running backs benefited.
Oakland Raiders quarterbacks
The trade for Carson Palmer was the talk of the NFL all of last week, but Palmer’s performance did not live up to the hype. He didn’t even start the game — that distinction was left to Kyle Bowler, who turned in a spectacular three-pick, 61-yard performance before he was benched at half. Palmer didn’t fare much better in the second half though, throwing for three picks as well. Both Raiders signal callers finished with negative point totals in fantasy, but expect Palmer to improve as he gets more familiar with the offense.
Johnson has had a horrible year after receiving his record-setting contract extension, and that slow start didn’t change on Sunday. Johnson only rushed for 18 yards on 10 attempts against a weak Houston run defense. Up until this season, Johnson was always a top-5 fantasy player, now he’s a borderline starter. His best chance to turn it around will come against the Colts next week, and if he can’t perform against that defense, he might just be done as a top-flight player.
Week 5 of the fantasy season is in the books. Here are a few fantasy players who had scorching performances, plus a few who made owners shake their heads in disgust.
New York Giants
One great game can be an anomaly and two can still be a fluke. But when you get to three, it becomes a trend. Cruz has now ascended into trend territory after an eight-catch 161-yard day against the Seahawks. This is the third straight game where he has 98 yards or more, and he is quickly becoming Eli Manning’s second favorite receiver behind Hakeem Nicks.
The NFL’s most talked about backup finally saw the field after starter Kyle Orton struggled in the first half, and he performed well. Tebow passed for 79 yards and made a real impact running the ball, finishing the day with 16 points in ESPN leagues. Denver is heading into its bye week and with a full-blown quarterback controversy, but look for the former Heisman winner to come out on top.
The rookie has quietly been one of the most consistent options at wide receiver this year, putting up 10 or more points in each of his first four games. Expect Green to keep it up next week with the Bengals taking on a weak Colts secondary.
Kansas City Chiefs
He just hasn’t gotten the job done filling in for Jamaal Charles. Jones is only averaging three points a game since becoming the starter and — even worse — he hasn’t averaged more than 3.3 yards a carry in any of those games. Jones should ride your bench for a while and, if he doesn’t turn it around quickly, should be dropped for a steadier option.
New York Giants
As Cruz has gone up in the Giants pecking order, Manningham has fallen. He has not had more than five fantasy points yet, and since coming back from injury two weeks ago, has only been targeted six times. Watch carefully next week to see his targets, and if they’re lower than Cruz’s, it might be time to hit the waiver wire.
Four points from your quarterback: ouch. That was the number Kolb put up this week, following a five point-performance the week before. With little talent outside other than Larry Fitzgerald, Kolb is struggling. Therefore, he should never see the light of your
Printed on October 11, 2011 as: Cruz becoming reliable fantasy option
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein (7) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Texas A&M. Klein has drawn comparisons to Tim Tebow. (Photo Courtesy of Charlie Riedel)
He stands at 6-foot-5 and 226 pounds. He can hurt a defense with his arm as much as he can with his feet. He will try to run around defenders but doesn’t mind going through them. Remind you of anyone?
The first dual-threat quarterback of that size that would first come to mind for most Longhorns fans is Vince Young. But Kansas State’s Collin Klein reminds Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz of someone else.
“He plays a lot like Tim Tebow played at Florida,” Diaz said. “When you watch the film, you’re like, ‘Geez, there’s a guy a couple years ago that did something like this.’”
Like Tebow, Klein thrives in short-yardage situations and quickly gained the respect of his teammates, being voted as team captain despite starting just two games quarterback the previous season and playing wide receiver the year before.
Klein leads the nation with 24 touchdowns, is one of two FBS quarterbacks to run for at least 100 yards per game, and only two players have more than Klein’s 241 carries.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said head coach Mack Brown. “He’s the number one reason they’ve won eight football games so far. Bill Snyder’s done a great job of utilizing his best player and getting the ball in his hands.”
Most quarterbacks, even the mobile ones, run out of bounds when given the opportunity. But Klein is a different breed of quarterback. He’s been successful running between the tackles and more than just about every other field general, even ones such as Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III that Texas has yet to face, does not shy away
“Nobody runs with that style,” said senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho. “Klein, if you’re in his way, will try to run through you and run over you. It’s going to be fun. Your goal in a game is to hit the quarterback and they’re bringing him to you. I’m looking forward to it.”
Klein, who started two games at wide receiver as a freshman, is also an adept passer. The junior quarterback has thrown for more than 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns, doing more than enough to keep opposing defenses honest.
“I think the improvement in the passing game from last year to this year is the most notable thing that we have to respect,” said senior safety Blake Gideon. “We can’t just load the box having everybody’s eyes in the backfield.”
Klein is not only an explosive offensive weapon but he does a good job of protecting the football. He’s thrown five interceptions in 219 pass attempts this year and has lost just one fumble in 241 carries. Texas has forced just one turnover in its last five games but will need a few takeaways to have a chance at beating Kansas State this weekend.
“It seems like for three weeks in a row, we’ve gotten in each other’s way on an interception,” Diaz said. “We have one where Christian Scott is in unbelievable coverage and Emmanuel Acho’s our free guy. If one of them messes up on that play, the other one probably makes the interception.”
Kansas State’s offense also hurts teams with their scheme. It’s no secret that the Wildcats will run the ball — they’ve logged more than twice as many rushes as passes so far this season — but how they will is uncertain. Kansas State may literally have a countless number of formations to throw at Texas as Diaz said a graduate assistant “was afraid to say” how many there actually were.
Klein was a big part of the Wildcats’ 39-14 win over the Longhorns last year. He ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns and, like Tebow in Denver’s win over Kansas City this past weekend, completed just two passes in the victory. Klein should connect on a lot more throws Saturday as he’s notched 39 completions over the last two weeks.
Even though he doesn’t get the attention or admiration Tebow does, Klein is very capable of having a Tebow-esque game in Austin this weekend.
With Fozzy Whittaker out for the season and Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron banged up, junior tailback D.J. Monroe has to carry more of a load.
The Longhorns are going back to the drawing board this week.
Texas looked like a team on the rise two weeks ago, but Saturday’s 17-5 loss to Missouri and a season-ending knee injury to Fozzy Whittaker threw a wrench in the Longhorn’s plans.
Whittaker led UT with nine touchdowns and 955 all-purpose yards, and leading rushers Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron are both nursing injuries.
“We’ve got us a mess right now,” said head coach Mack Brown. “We’ve got to figure it out in a week.”
Brown, a freshman, has been sidelined by turf toe for two weeks and a hamstring issue has limited Bergeron in practice. Both suited up but did not play against Missouri and their status is uncertain moving forward, starting with Saturday’s game against Kansas State.
“We can’t plan on Joe and Malcolm being ready on Saturday,” Mack Brown said. “And we can’t plan on them playing the whole game if they are ready.”
Texas had found something on offense in the run game behind the trio of Brown, Bergeron and Whittaker, rushing for more than 400 yards in two straight games. But things turned south against Missouri and UT was held to a season-worst 247 yards (76 rushing).
“The thing you look at is, we’ve got an identity,” Brown said. “And all of a sudden, that identity is gone in the first quarter [at Mizzou]. So we’ve got to go back and regroup.”
The Longhorns don’t have much time to figure it out with No. 16 Kansas State (8-2) visiting on Saturday.
Diaz sees Tebow in Klein
Longhorns defensive coordinator Manny Diaz compares Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein to former Heisman Trophy-winner Tim Tebow.
Klein leads the nation with 24 rushing touchdowns and is first among quarterbacks with 1,009 rushing yards. He ran for a school-record five touchdowns last week against Texas A&M and is three scores shy of Ricky Williams’ Big 12 season record (27).
“If you go by the film and not the hype and the side show, he plays a lot like Tim Tebow played at Florida,” Diaz said. “He’s a running quarterback and if Kansas State had been in the national spotlight from Day 1, people would think of him along those lines.”
Tebow was a dual-threat quarterback at Florida, where he led the Gators to a pair of national championships before being selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft (No. 25 to Denver). Klein has an awkward throwing motion, much like Tebow, but has passed for 1,504 yards and 10 touchdowns against five interceptions in 10 games.
“When you watch film, you say, ‘There was a guy who did this a couple years ago,’” Diaz said. “I’m not saying they are the same, but there’s a lot of similarities.”
Klein torched Texas last season for 127 rushing yards and two touchdowns as the Wildcats won, 39-14 in Manhattan.
Brown wants replay changes
Mack Brown said he plans to suggest the American Football Coaches Association look into expanded replay for the 2012 season. The Longhorns had a few calls go against them in Saturday’s loss to Missouri.
“The official upstairs should be able to have a replay on any play that may change the game,” Brown said. “If it’s an awful call and it happens so quickly and they don’t see it, or they’re arguing over it, then let the guy upstairs watch it three times.”
Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro was penalized for illegal helmet-to-helmet contact on a questionable play in the second quarter against the Tigers. Vaccaro stopped De’Vion Moore for a two-yard loss on third down, but was flagged for a personal foul. On the ensuing play, Kendial Lawrence sprinted 35 yards for a touchdown to give MU a 14-3 advantage.
“It’s hard to call,” Brown said. “We need to protect kids, but we’re in a position where it happens so fast — if the guy misses — it is a very difficult call. We’re doing it for fumbles, out of bounds and in bounds, line of scrimmage. Why don’t we do it on any call that’s a bad call that changes the game?”
The coach cited the BCS as another reason for replay reform because “one loss can kill you.”
“We’re in a position where losses kill us,” Brown said. “We need wins. One play can make a difference to us.”
David Ash, a fleet-footed freshman, saw significant playing time in Texas first game as the Longhorns have a set of plays specifically designed for him.
In 2006, a solid and steady (but certainly not spectacular) Chris Leak captained Florida to a national championship. Behind him was freshman quarterback Tim Tebow, the most popular man on campus and master of the package plays — draws, sweeps and jump-throws.
Ash played often in Texas’ win over Rice, lining up at split end for his first career play. He eventually began taking snaps at his natural quarterback position, running what looked like the zone read and orchestrating many of the Longhorns’ trick plays.
He only threw one pass, a two-yard completion to D.J. Monroe. But man, that spiral sure did look pretty.
Ash, a freshman from Belton, is listed as the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart, behind Garrett Gilbert and Case McCoy. But Ash saw much more quality minutes than McCoy did, so it looks like co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin is grooming him to be the next-man-up — despite what the depth chart officially says — should Gilbert struggle or get injured.
“We want to be able to get him in the game and let him get in the flow,” Harsin said.
“Let him get the feel. Let him get out there and play a little bit, and then we’ll see where we go from there.”
To be certain, Ash isn’t Tebow. Not left-handed. Not as big, not as athletic. Probably a better passer with better mechanics. Thankfully, not nearly as demonstrative — I don’t see him guaranteeing wins in press conferences or making pro-life commercials with his mother any time soon.
Linebacker Emmanuel Acho says Ash is the “fastest and quickest quarterback on the team.” And Mack Brown knows there are things that Ash can do that others on the roster simply cannot.
“We do have a package for David,” Brown said. “Case is the second string quarterback, but there are some things that David can do with his feet, with movement and his ability to run and throw that will make it tough on teams to prepare for.”
Gilbert admitted as much.
“We’re all very different quarterbacks,” he said. “But David does a good job of getting the ball to our playmakers, he did a great job.”
Ash made the key play on Texas’ first passing touchdown of the season: He threw a strong block while receiver John Harris rolled to the right and lofted a pass to Jaxon Shipley — as perfect a trick play as Texas has ever ran.
“David made a good block on the linebacker on John’s pass,” Gilbert said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had to do that.”
With Ash, the Longhorns’ offense flexes its versatility. In high school, he posted a 4.6 second 40-yard dash and rushed for 300 yards his senior year, while throwing for 3,500 more. He can even punt with the best of them, which gives Texas pooch-kick options on fourth down.
More importantly, he offers Gilbert some much-needed relief. In asking Gilbert to throw 40 times a game last year, Texas has learned that depending too much on one player can be hazardous.
If Ash can play Tebow and Gilbert can put up Leak-like numbers — 20 touchdowns or so and 2,500 yards — the Longhorns will be in good shape. Don’t get your hopes up for a national championship, though. Maybe next year.
Ash just might have a bigger role by then.
Printed on September 6, 2011 as: Is Ash the next Tim Tebow?