Tim Tebow will be 4–1 as starter; Rex Ryan's Jets will lose twice in five days.
Tim Tebowâs Superman success collides with the wrath of Rex Ryan in a Thursday night fight between the Denver Broncos and New York Jets under the lights at Mile High.
And this comical clash of the titans will certainly end in life or death soap opera hysterics, regardless of the outcome.
If the Broncos win, Tebow will improve his record as a starter this year to 4â1 while handing the Jets their second loss in five days, following a 37â16 defeat at home against their hated AFC East rival Patriots on Sunday night â just over 100 hours prior to Thursdayâs kickoff.
âAll Tim Tebow does is win,â everyone in Denver and Gator Nation will say.
âNo other team in the NFL is playing a Thursday night game after a Sunday night game,â Ryan, the Jets and New Yorkâs greater metropolitan area will complain.
If the Jets win, the season will be saved â at least until they kick off against the division-rival Bills next week â and Tebow will once again become the whipping boy he was following his only loss and, coincidentally, his only start at Invesco Field this year, an ugly 45â10 defeat to the Lions in Week 8.
âTebow canât play quarterback in the NFL,â and âThe single-wing, run-first, option offense will never work in the pros,â will be repeated ad nauseam among televised talking heads and drive time drones.
The over-the-top insanity will be more fun if Tebow wins. And, like it or not, Tebow-led Denver probably will beat Jet-lagged New York.
There is a new energy around the Broncos since Tebow was reluctantly named the starting quarterback of a 1â4 team by coach John Fox and John Elway â who apparently would rather âSuck for Luckâ with Kyle Orton than win with Tebow, who was drafted by persona non grata Josh McDaniels.
On the other side, the Jets are in a tailspin downward spiral, coming off a painful loss to the Patriots. After making back-to-back AFC title games, quarterback Mark Sanchez has not taken the strides many expected â both physically and mentally â most recently calling a timeout against New England that Ryan called âthe stupidest thing in football history.â
A quick turnaround from Sunday night to Thursday night is the last thing New York needs. The Jets seem to be stuck in the past, ready for a rematch with the Patriots rather than a one-off with the Broncos.
âMentally, we know itâs a great challenge,â said Ryan, of the short week of preparation. âYou go right back at it and really seeing the difference between playing Denver compared to New England. Itâs so different that you have no choice but to say, âHey, letâs go. That thing is behind us now, letâs just focus on what is in front of us.â Because we have to. This is such a different challenge for us. We canât do anything, that game right there (against the Patriots), we canât win that game right now.â
Meanwhile, Denver is in the midst of breaking out an offense so old itâs new again. The Broncos ran the ball 55 times for 244 yards and a seven-yard Tebow TD, while throwing just eight passes (completing two) for 69 yards and a 56-yard scoring strike from Tebow to Eric Decker for what proved to be the winning fourth-quarter score of a 17â10 victory at Kansas City last week.
âThey did throw it eight times. But it was 55 runs. We donât know exactly what weâre going to get. We just have to be sound (defensively),â explained Ryan, during his weekly Tuesday press conference.
âTheyâve been really multiple. Sometimes they spread them out. Theyâll go empty (backfield) and then run the ball with the quarterback. Running âOâ plays and all that stuff. So no matter what you see, youâll probably start by saying, âItâs probably a run,â and then weâll defend the pass after it.
âBut youâre looking at formations or personnel groupings that tell you itâs going to be a pass, and itâs not with this group. Thatâs a little different, but youâd better be sound and obviously assume heâs running with it.â
The assumption of a Tebow run, option pitch or handoff would appear to be especially powerful against a proud New York secondary coming off a game in which Tom Brady threw 39 passes for 329 yards and three TDs while New England had no back with over eight carries on the ground.
Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner and All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis may experience an unwanted âLostâ-style solitary purgatory in a new version of âRevis Island.â And that lack-of-pass Broncos attack might create a foggy focus for the likes Antonio Cromartie, who has been known to sleepwalk through a play and get burnt deep.
âWe canât fall asleep back there in the secondary,â Revis stressed this week. âIt can get boring, especially when a team just keeps running the ball, series after series, play after play.â
Tebow may not throw a Peyton Manning spiral, but his wobbly duck made it over the top of the Chiefs defense and hit Decker in-stride last week for an easy score, while also padding Tebowâs career-high 102.6 passer rating. The Broncosâ Tebow-oriented offense may not be conventional by NFL standards, but if it ainât broke Fox ainât fixing it.
âAs long as youâre moving the ball, possessing the ball, giving your defense some rest, itâs all good,â said Fox, after taking down the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
âWeâre trying to do whatever is going to help us to win. In my opinion, thatâs all part of coaching â putting your players in position to utilize their abilities. â¦ It is a little clichÃ©, but you take what the defense gives you.â
A tired, dejected Jets defense will probably give Tebow just enough to pull off a Broncos upset Thursday night on NFL Network.