Friday, November 18, 2011

Can Vince Young Pull A Tebow?

I got to see the Jets vs. Broncos game tonight, since I'm close enough to the New York region to get a local feed out of the NFLN TNF telecast. (A brief word on this: the game is always easier to take then ESPN's MNF, mainly because it is not telecast by ESPN. Moving on.) And in the game, as you might have heard by now, The Last Five Minute Man, Denver "QB" Tim Tebow, led the hometown Broncos to a last-minute win over the Jets with a 95-yard drive after being a tackling dummy for much of the game. Just like that Miami win, but this time, against a presumably real defense.

The game was striking, mostly because of everything that Tebow *doesn't* do for his team. He misses open men, looks painful all over the place, doesn't sustain drives and doesn't look anything like an NFL QB... but then there are the things he *does* do. On one scramble for yardage, Tebow ran to the sideline, pursued by CB Darrelle Revis... then cut inside, taking on the smaller CB physically, and drove for extra yards. Players on his own sideline eat this stuff up like anything, really; whenever the QB doesn't behave like he's above the fray, it sells. It sells hard.

The other thing that Tebow does is this: he doesn't give the ball back to the other team on a short field, or right away, even when the Broncos go three and out, which they did a lot of tonight. Compare this with the winless Colts, who were still trying no-huddle against the Saints in that SNF debacle a month ago; that club went 3-and-out and put their defense back on the field in less than a minute. Any wonder why the Denver defense looks so much better when Tebow is their QB? (Well, because they got to face the Jets tonight. But still.)

The cold and simple fact of it is that the QB gets too much credit when a team wins, and too much blame when they lose... but they have more impact on the game than any other player. And in Tebow's five starts -- four of them Denver wins -- he's thrown six TDs, had just one INT, and hasn't lost a fumble. 20 quarters, one turnover. You can win games doing that. And make your defense a lot happier.

Which leads us to Vince Young, your likely starter in this week's Please God, Let It End Already Eagles "Must Win" game.

In 56 NFL games, Young has 43 picks and 21 fumbles, for an average of 1.14 turnovers per game. In 107 NFL games, Vick has 69 picks and 29 fumbles, for an average of 0.91 turnovers per game... but in 2011, that's 11 picks and 6 fumbles in 9 games, or just under 2 per game. And even when this Eagles team has been moving the ball, it hasn't exactly chewed a lot of clock.

So if Coach For Life Andy Reid watched tonight's game with anything other than abject horror at all of the running plays... maybe he noticed that winning with a less talented QB basically comes down to not putting your defense in a hole. Then watching as they play a hell of a lot better.

This Denver team isn't a great defense; they start Brian Dawkins and Broderick Bunkley, who didn't do all that much to impress in their final days in the laundry. (Though they do have some pieces outside of Dawk and Bunk.) But when you keep them off the field and give them a QB who looks like he's ready to kill himself -- without turning the ball over?

They can play. They can win.

And if Young can somehow do something similar, and prolong this sad season?

Well, I doubt they throw Vick overboard right away. But they'd take their own sweet time in making sure he's "healthy" enough to play again...

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