Sunday, January 2, 2011

Broncos Gameday Recap: Game 16 - vs Chargers

Chargers 33 Broncos 28
On a cold, but exciting day of football, Ryan Mathews and the Chargers proved to be just a bit too much for the Broncos to take.

Mercifully, the 2010-11 season comes to an end. A season which saw a wide receiver take his own life, a coach get caught in a videotaping scandal and subsequently get canned and the Broncos fall to their worst record in their 51 year history couldn't end quickly enough. The Broncos will have to start picking up the pieces and try to see if they can rebound and rebuild quickly.

Leading that rebuilding effort will be fan favorite John Elway, who is poised to take a position with Denver that has yet to be officially announced, but is rumored to be something along the lines of VP of football operations. That sound interesting, but just because John was a football god on the field doesn't necessarily mean he has the touch as a personnel guy. Although, much like Tim Tebow, we will hope for the best even though we have little in the way of actual proof in which to believe. Although, for a team that finished 4-12 and has little going for it other than an exciting but crazy raw athlete at quarterback and the number 2 overall pick, hope is a valuable commodity.

Before the rebuilding could begin, this year's version of the Broncos had to cross the finish line, doing so against a Chargers team that is much too talented to be finishing outside of the playoffs. The Chargers used a whole lot of running from rookie halfback Ryan Mathews and a whole lot of bad tackling from the Broncos defense to roll to a 33-28 victory over Denver this afternoon out at Invesco Field. There were nearly 8,000 no shows, but that number could have tripled had Tim Tebow not been getting his third career start. The curiosity factor of seeing Tebow play definitely ramped up interest in the Mile High city.

Tebow rewarded the enthusiasm with a rather uneven effort. I am beginning to think that Tebow is incapable of throwing the ball in a manner that is pleasing to the eye. Dude just throws ugly. Although his passer rating was a lousy 58.2, he wasn't completely terrible overall. The fact is that Tebow is part quarterback, but he's also a good portion of a running back too. The passer part of the equation was rather lackluster today. Tebow made some of the worst throws that I've ever seen tossed by a quarterback in the NFL today, but then he also made some very nice tosses as well. The rookie is quite raw, but what he lacks (severely) in polish, he does tend to make up for in grit and enthusiasm. Yes, he only threw for 205 yards, and missed some receivers so egregiously that one might question whether or not he's good enough to be a passer in the league, and threw for two terrible interceptions; however he also ran for 92 yards and a touchdown, and despite having a somewhat bad day, he still nearly engineered a comeback for Denver.

I think questioning his ability is not out of the question, but it's impossible to deny that the guy is exciting and that he makes things happen. The team rallies around him, and plays hard for him, and he's just so darn earnest about playing football. It's easy to doubt him, but it's hard to not want to see him do well. John Elway's first tough decision will be whether or not it's a wise idea to trust in Tebow as the quarterback of the future, or consider picking up a solid stud quarterback when they are in the unusual and rare position of being able to draft so highly with the second overall pick.

The final game of the year wasn't all about Tim Tebow, though. The defense played Phyllis Rivers tough, although Phyllis was able to throw for 313 yards, he did not look all that amazing throughout the game. It was definitely a down day for the Chargers quarterback. More than making up for that was the aggressive running of Ryan Mathews, as the Chargers back went for 120 yards and three touchdowns.

It was far from a good day for the Broncos defense, but I need to give credit to Andre' Goodman. Dude had a solid day at corner.

After Mathews ran for his third touchdown of the day with less than 8 minutes remaining to put San Diego up 33-14, it appeared all hope was lost. However, a quick Cassius Vaughn kickoff return for a touchdown, and another quick drive from Tebow which ended with Timmy running in for a score of his own, the game tightened up. The Broncos were able to recover an onsides kick with 23 seconds left, and the small crowd that had not left early was rewarded by their dedication by a few Hail Mary attempts that thudded to the ground, and the Broncos falling just shy yet again of a win.

Is this the quarterback of the future, or just another McDaniels misjudgment? Time will tell.

So, the curtain closes on the worst season in Broncos history, and there are more questions than answers. How much of a winning effect can the winningest quarterback in franchise history bring as an executive? How will the Broncos use the highest draft pick they have ever had? (#2 overall) Is Tim Tebow the quarterback of the future? Who will be leading this team next year? Did Eric Studesville show enough in his brief tenure as interim head coach to merit the job permanently? (I say no, by the way.) How quickly can this defense get things turned around? Will Champ Bailey be back? (For his sake, I hope he goes someplace he can win quickly since he is in the twilight of his career, and the Broncos are going to need more than just a little time to get back to being a good squad.) So many questions, and only time can provide the answers. For now, Broncos Nation needs some time to heal. 4-12 is a rough year. Good night, and good luck. Go Broncos!

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