As opposing teams continue to keep undervaluing Tim Tebow and his abilities, there seems no limit to how far the Broncos can go under the man who many said can't play QB in the NFL.
With Tim Tebow, it's always about what he can't do. He can't throw, he can't read defenses, he can't be an NFL quarterback, and he can't succeed. But for weeks now, every win has come with a begrudging acceptance of Tebow's abilities to find a way to win, but with the certainty that it can't last. Tim has become a great story for much the same reasons people slow down to watch a wreck, they're hoping, in some sadistic way, to see something terrible, to see the tragedy firsthand.
Week 13, though, we got a chance to see more of what Tebow CAN do. Sure, we all know Tim can run already, but too many see that and call it the sum total of his abilities. They don't take the time to see what those running abilities can entail for the offense as a whole, as well as for his opportunities to succeed in the passing game.
With the emergence of the running quarterback over the last decade or so, the defenses in the NFL created new defensive schemes that incorporated a "spy" to contain that aspect of the game. This player, removed from the passing defense, is tasked with mirroring QBs like Vick, McNabb, and, now, Tebow, creating holes in the secondary. As a result, passing quarterbacks can often find open receivers against defenses where traditional pocket passers may not, as their feet and the requirements placed on opposing teams can cause chaos with match-ups.
Now, what Tebow showed in the 35-32 comeback win against the Vikings was that he can exploit those same mismatches that other, more "talented" and "complete" running quarterbacks have in the past. And not just once either, as Tim brought the Broncos back again and again Sunday, ending the day 10-15 with 202 yds and two touchdowns (yep, two passing TDs). For the man who could not pass, this was a pretty tight performance, especially on a day when he was held to just 13 yards rushing (though he did run in a 2-point conversion himself, big surprise there).
Why so successful? It's the fact that he was already established as such a running threat, and though some saw this as his sole talent, he now just has to scramble towards a sideline and defenses are drawn to him, allowing him to hit open guys for big gains. On top of it, you can see Tebow starting to really go through his receivers while he's back there evading, scanning the field for holes in the defense while using his legs to not only escape sacks, but manipulate the defense as well. On his second touchdown throw, Tebow ran for the sidelines as the defense came rampaging through at him, but remained behind the line of scrimmage, dancing to draw some more attention before throwing a great strike (on the run) to Demaryius Thomas for the score. He was alert enough to throw a stiff-arm on Erin Henderson (6'3", 244 pound linebacker), but kept his eyes firmly down field, controlling and freezing the secondary with indecision.
Tebow's still growing, maybe that's the part that hasn't really sunk in yet. While so many are watching games to find the flaws in his performances, they are missing out on seeing all the things he's doing right and the things he's getting better at week to week. This negative "he can't " attitude is making teams underplay him, figuring if you just shut down his running lanes then Tebow can't hurt you. By doing this, it as much as tells a team to ignore the passing aspect of his game, so that every time he ducks his head and dekes forward, the defense immediately collapses towards him and the Broncos receivers find that extra step of space. If teams were more focused on what No. 15 IS doing, rather than relying on some consensus view of the things he can't do, maybe Denver wouldn't be 6-1 under him.
To sum up then, Tim CAN run on NFL defenses (quite successfully actually), he CAN throw against NFL defenses (though his accuracy could use some improving... more than some, but he still has just the one interception), and he CAN play quarterback at the NFL level, with 1,054 yards and 10 touchdowns in 7 1/2 games this year. Yes, all you defensive minds out there are right to try and make him throw more, as it's the best chance to beat him, but the vital error in those game plans is expecting he can't complete those passes. It's time teams stopped underestimating and started treating Tebow like a real talent in the NFL with more than one weapon in his arsenal.
If teams did that, the Broncos might not be tied for first in the AFC West.