Here’s a hint: maybe it’s the man upstairs.
Make that the men, plural.
While all the attention for Tebow’s inexplicable success has focused on his unorthodox style of play — and the spotlight grows brighter as his cult of detractors swells each time he mentions his Christian faith — the best explanation for his ascendancy has largely been overlooked: the Broncos’ coaching staff.
Led by head boss John Fox, who should be a leading candidate for NFL Coach of the Year, these men have been the true catalysts for Tebow’s head-scratching winning streak.
In his first two starts, Tebow showed he couldn’t throw a lick; the Broncos barely beat the Dolphins, then got hammered by the Lions. Tebow didn’t complete half of his passes in either game.
So instead of making the Tebow fit a pro offense, John Fox and his charges scrapped the wisdom of modern offense and sent Tebow back to school: For his third start, against the Raiders, they installed a read-option attack similar to what Tebow ran at the University of Florida. Caught off guard, the Raiders couldn’t defend the brilliantly simplistic approach and the Broncos won.
That was shocking, but what happened the following week was stupefying: In a game that set offensive football back 40 years and would have made Woody Hayes blush, the Broncos ran the ball 55 times for 244 yards. Tebow threw a forward pass just eight times. He completed two of them. The Broncos beat the Chiefs.
And after Tebow continued his mind-numbing, pinballing, shot putting, last-second-winning antics against the beleaguered Jets on Thursday night, the question can no longer just be about how good is Tebow, but must now also become about how good his coaches are.
It hasn't been pretty to watch, but the fact is that Broncos have saved what clearly appeared to be a lost season just five weeks ago. The run-heavy, read-option, just-keep-it-close style of play has been a masterstroke, and the brilliant play of the defense has been lost in the limelight surrounding No. 15.
What’s more, perhaps no team is doing more with less this season. To say that the cupboard isn’t loaded is an understatement. Look at the roster: Willis McGahee is the best player on offense now that Brandon Lloyd is gone, and the same defense that was a laughingstock last year has been stalwart.
By comparison, the man who most likely will win Coach of the Year, Jim Harbaugh, is doing great deeds with a roster stocked with the likes of Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Patrick Willis — heck, even the much-maligned Alex Smith is having a spectacular season — that he inherited when he bolted Stanford.
Fox had no such groundwork laid for him. He’s winning with an aggressively sub-par roster and the most dubiously talented quarterback in the league. Quite simply, he’s winning with brilliantly gritty coaching, the beauty of which only becomes more apparent the uglier the play gets.
I used to know a guy who loved to say that there was no such thing as an ugly win. Never has that been more true.
More on Tim Tebow from The Washington Post
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Early Lead: Tim Tebow mania sweeps the nation