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CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

After Further Review: Exciting, excruciating Tebow gets his shot

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Good timing? Thanks to the bye week, Tim Tebow gets extra practice before his first start of 2011. (AP)  
Good timing? Thanks to the bye week, Tim Tebow gets extra practice before his first start of 2011. (AP)  

With Tim Tebow-mania in full swing, and the legion of cult-like fans excited that he will start Oct. 23 against the Miami Dolphins, I wanted to go back and break down his performance last week against San Diego.

Tebow came on in relief of Kyle Orton, much to the delight of Denver fans, and helped rally the team from 16 down to a near upset.

That led to his being named starter by coach John Fox on Tuesday. The Broncos have a bye this week, giving Tebow time to get ready for his role as starter, and causing two long weeks of Tebow talk.

After studying Tebow's performance in that game, play-by-play, I came to this conclusion: He can be exciting and excruciatingly painful to watch at the same time.

That's not quarterback he plays, not in the truest sense of the word. I'm not sure what it is, maybe a hybrid, runner/passer who is more fullback than elusive runner, more creative than conventional, bad mechanics and all.

You can see why fans gravitate to him.

You can also see why quarterback purists hate him.

Here is a play-by-play look at all of his passes and some called runs in the game against the Chargers:

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 Third-and-8 at DEN 33: Dropped to throw, had two receivers to his left, which is where he looked against the Chargers zone. Didn't throw there, came back to the right to hit Eric Decker for no gain on a low throw.

 Second-and-7 at DEN 10: Dropped to throw, Chargers in man coverage. Looked left, and threw left deep to Brandon Lloyd, who made a great catch -- out of bounds.

 Third-and-7 at DEN 10: Dropped to throw, had plenty of time in the pocket, looked to the middle, hopped up a step, and then back a step, still looked down the field, then rolled left and overshot a wide-open Decker in the middle of the field for what could have been a huge play.

 First-and-10 at DEN 20: Dropped to throw against man coverage, and had tight end Dante Rosario open on a wheel route against man coverage from the linebacker. Tebow hurried the throw and it landed at Rosario's feet for an incomplete pass. Should have been a big gain. Made the right read, though.

 Second-and-9 at DEN 33: Dropped to throw with Chargers in man coverage. He looked to his right, then had pressure off the left and ran for 5 yards to his right.

 Third-and-4 at DEN 38: Dropped to throw, looked to his right against zone coverage. No pressure as he spun his head to the left and then short-armed a pass to an open Matt Willis for an incomplete pass.

 First-and-10 at SD 23: Dropped to throw, play-action fake against zone coverage. Looked right the entire play and then tucked the ball and ran for 11 yards. Didn't get to his second read on this play before taking off.

 Second-and-10 at SD 12: Shotgun snap, made it look like a pass, but a run all the way. Ran to the left side for 12 yards and a touchdown. This was a vintage Tebow play.

 First-and-10 at SD 41: Shotgun snap, clearly a run all the way to the right, and ran for 8 yards.

 First-and-10 at SD 28: Dropped to throw, set up the screen nicely with a deep drop and held the ball until the last second as he took a shot. Lofted a nice pass to Knowshon Moreno, who turned it into a 28-yard touchdown catch. Nice feel by Tebow on this play.

 Two-point conversion: Dropped to throw and lofted a nice throw to Lloyd on the left side against man coverage that should have been caught.

 First-and-10 at DEN 20: Shotgun snap, opened to his right, looked that way the entire time and threw deep to Lloyd, who made a great catch for a 20-yard gain.

 First-and-10 at DEN 40: Shotgun snap against a three-man rush and San Diego in zone coverage. Stepped up in the pocket and wisely threw a pass, even though he could have run. The pass was behind tight end Daniel Fells, but he reached behind for a 31-yard gain.

 Second-and-10 at SD 29: After a spike, the Broncos had one final play. Tebow took the snap from center, looked left, didn't see anybody, looked right and there was still no pressure. Then he made the strange move of spinning 360 in the pocket. He set his feet, again with no real pressure he decided to move out to his left where there was some pressure. That forced him to the right where he threw into the end zone for Willis, but the pass fell incomplete.

There were things to like about his play. He made the right reads at times, which is a big step for him. His mechanics, as usual, weren't very good, which led to short-arming throws.

The running part of his game remains the strength of it. That has to change as he continues to play.

To sum it all up, watching Tebow play quarterback is like being in a plane in a thunderstorm. It's never smooth and it's filled with a lot of ups, but even more downs.

Film study (10 things I saw from the tape that you didn't)

1. If you're looking for a blue-collar guy who has made himself into a good player, look at Jacksonville defensive end Jeremy Mincey. He is coming off a nice game against the Bengals in a battle with good left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Mincey had five tackles, a sack and four quarterback hurries. He got his sack going underneath Whitworth and over guard Nate Livings. He also shed Whitworth on a run in the second half to make a tackle for no gain.

2. Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb isn't playing well. It's easy to see why. His tackles are terrible. They gave up four sacks against the Vikings ends last week, but it was worse than that. Vikings ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison pressured Kolb the entire day. He had to step up almost every time he dropped to throw. The pressure led to one fumble, but it also led to poor mechanics on several throws that were off target. Levi Brown, a former first-round pick, isn't good at left tackle and Jeremy Bridges was terrible on the right side against the Vikings. Kolb rarely has time to throw down the field. He isn't playing well when he does get time, but it's not all his fault. That's for sure.

3. A couple of weeks ago in this space, I took Seahawks corner Brandon Browner apart for his poor game against the Steelers. He was torched that day in man coverage. But he did a nice job Sunday against the Giants. Locked in man coverage, he broke up a couple of passes and ended up with the game-winning interception. He is a tall corner who plays a lot of press-man coverage, which makes him vulnerable at times. But he is improving. If a team is going to get him, they better get him now. By year's end, he will be tough to beat.

4. The Steelers re-signed Max Starks last week and immediately made him their starting left tackle. He showed why against Tennessee. Starks was outstanding in pass protection, getting good sets, and he also mauled some Titans in the run game. Starks weighed 400 pounds this summer, but lost about 50 of it before being re-signed, and helped solidify the Steelers' line. If he can continue to play at this high level, the line should be improved the rest of the way. He helped get the run game going as well with some big blocks.

5. The Redskins decided not to bring back corner Carlos Rogers, and the 49ers have to be glad. He signed a one-year deal with San Francisco and has played at a high level in the first five games. He had a pick for a touchdown against Tampa Bay last week and made several nice plays on other passes in man coverage. Rogers is an upgrade over Nate Clements, the starter last season.

6. The Bills pushed the Eagles around last week. One of the guys who played a big part was left guard Andy Levitre. He mauled the Eagles defenders lined up over him in the run game and did a nice job in pass protection. He is a feisty player who makes up for his lack of size with a tenacious style. He's one of the rising interior linemen in this league. Watch him. You'll see.

7. The Eagles' linebackers are horrible. They don't get off blocks. They spent the day getting blocked by Bills linemen. In a wide-9 defense that they use, they have to get off blocks. They just don't. That's why the Bills were able to run the ball the way they did.

8. The Chiefs got their passing game going against the Colts and the player they picked on was corner Jacob Lacey. Dwayne Bowe did a number on him, including beating him for an acrobatic touchdown catch. Lacey was lucky Matt Cassel missed another throw when Bowe ran a slant and go and was wide open. Lacey has to play better or teams will attack him all season long.

9. Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour dominated against the Texans. He couldn't be blocked. He had two sacks, three hurries, a tackle for loss and spent the day in the Houston backfield.

10. Is there any safety playing better than Buffalo's George Wilson right now? He was all over the field against the Eagles. Wilson had 11 tackles, three passes defensed, a tackle for loss and an interception. The Bills lined him up at the line -- where he got his tackle for loss -- and also in coverage. Whenever a play was made, Wilson's No. 37 seemed to be in the area.

Hot Tub

1. Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul: He had 2½ sacks against the Seahawks and also played the run well. He is so active as a pass rusher.

2. Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis: He rushed for a career-high 136 yards against the Jets but it was the way he ran to get them. He ran tough and hard and made decisive cuts.

3. Steelers corner Ike Taylor: He had one of his best seasons in 2010 and it's carrying over. He has been playing some nice corner for the Steelers the past couple of weeks.

4. Chiefs running back Jackie Battle: He ran over Colts defenders in racking up 119 yards rushing. He is a bigger back at 235 pounds.

5. Colts receiver Pierre Garcon: He has two big games now catching passes from Curtis Painter. Does his emergence mean the Colts might not pay big to re-sign Reggie Wayne?

Cold Tub

1. Texans corner Jason Allen: He had a pick against the Raiders, but he was picked on by Jason Campbell and missed a tackle on the touchdown catch by Darrius Heyward-Bey.

2. Giants left tackle William Beatty: He had a rough go of it last week against Chris Clemons. He gave up two sacks and several pressures.

3. Jets safeties Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard: They can have the best corners in the league, but these two are a real liability in coverage.

4. Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes: With Jerod Mayo out, Spikes is now on the field more with Gary Guyton moving to middle linebacker. He spent the Jets game getting blocked and being late in coverage.

5. Bears right tackle Frank Omiyale: He is horrible. He got benched in consecutive games because he couldn't protect Jay Cutler.

Three and outs

Three things that are annoying me

1. Thinking that teams will intentionally try to lose to get Stanford's Andrew Luck. What the hell do the players playing now care about that? That's just stupidity.

2. Ex-players who rip ex-players for ripping current players. If Joe Namath has something to say about the current Jets, why can't he? Isn't this is a free country? The NFL is way too sensitive.

3. The talking heads who always mention a team's "mindset." It's not the players, it's not the scheme, it's the mindset. What?

Three college guys moving up on my list

1. Miami running back Lamar Miller: He is much more explosive than I expected. Ran away from people in the Virginia Tech game.

2. South Carolina defensive tackle Melvin Ingram: He isn't big, but he is athletic. He shows off his quickness.

3. Nebraska linebacker Lavonte Davis: He is a bit undersized at 225 pounds, but he shows up all over the place. He is a tackling machine.

Tweets at me

1. From: @Sethlvgolf: @PriscoCBS you're worse than Skip Bayless...so damn critical

2. From: @Stan_Mims: @PriscoCBS I cannot wait until Tebow shuts ur mouth along with all the other so called know it alls...u ever play football?

3. From: @vickicross: @PriscoCBS I think you deserve not to be followed any longer. Too negative a person. Goodbye. I won't miss your tweets


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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