We’re about an hour away from finding out if a quarterback who did nothing but win until three weeks ago will be frequently pulled during winning time.
That quarterback, of course, is Tim Tebow, and winning time in this case is the third down, which is often the most important down on any drive. Sure, there are more important individual plays or sequences, but the ability to convert on third down is the difference between a stagnant offense and a drive that stalls, and one that keeps the clock moving, controls the pace and rhythm of the game, and produces more scoring opportunities.
Right now, the Broncos could be set to trust Brady Quinn more to produce in that kind of clutch situation, the kind of situation in which Tebow once thrived. Rumors of Quinn’s increased practice time surfaced late this week, and the fact that they were even given credence shows the depth of Tebow’s tumble, despite the blind faith that still exists in many corners of Colorado.
ProFootballTalk’s report was the catalyst for the Quinn murmurs, with Mike Florio reporting on Friday that Quinn had received half of the reps this week in practice. That was refuted by multiple sources, including Quinn himself, who repeated his thoughts on the matter to Jeff Darlington of NFL.com today. Quinn said he didn’t receive any reps during Saturday’s walk through, and he worked with the first-team offense just 10 times all week (twice on Friday).
Florio rightfully pointed out that we’ve all been a little naive to believe anything a player or coach says in the lead-up to a playoff game. Florio’s also been supported by Fox’s Jay Glazer, who said that although Denver clearly hopes Tebow performs well enough to stay on the field, a contingency plan has been developed throughout the week, and it involves Quinn replacing Tebow on third downs if he struggles early with bad decisions.
Tebow completed 41 percent of his passes during Denver’s three-game losing streak to close out the season, so having a glass case that can be shattered quickly in a time of panic is a sound strategy, even if the legion of Tebow worshipers are displeased. But if Quinn is on the other side of that case, I suggest you locate another case.
With Tebow under center, the Broncos have converted only 11 of their 40 attempts on third downs over their last three games (27.5%), showing that a desperate measure during a desperate time could be necessary. But as we’ve come to expect with any report mentioning Tebow’s name, it might not be that simple.
I’m not thinking anything, Jeff. While Tebow being replaced due to his poor throwing wouldn’t exactly be shocking, this is likely little more than an elaborate and intentionally leaked rouse to get the Steelers to break away from their focus on the unique Bronco offense when Tebow’s in the game, and prepare for a Quinn cameo.
It won’t work.