Broncos Defense, Not Tim Tebow, Is Winning Games for Denver

Luke CarltonContributor IIINovember 30, 2011

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18:  Linebacker Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos salutes to the fans and celebrates with teammates defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson #99 and linebacker Joe Mays #51 after making a sack on Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton during the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Tim Tebow’s fourth-quarter antics and 5-1 record as a starter this year have led many to believe that he is some form of footballing disciple. The former Gator may not make it look pretty, but he gets the job done.

Plain and simple.

His style of play dismantles any image of an NFL quarterback. The prototypical quarterbacks like Johnny Unitas and Peyton Manning couldn’t be more different from Tebow. The throwing mechanics, the accuracy, the one-read-then-tuck mentality.

One thing they all have in common, however, is they are all winners.

It baffles the mind that a quarterback who runs the ball 22 times in a game, the most since the NFL merger, can be successful in the NFL. However, whilst Tebow continues to lead fourth-quarter comebacks, he is only a small reason why the Broncos continue to be successful.

Despite the fact that Tebow will continue to get all the glory, the real catalyst for Denver is its defense.

This was a defense which was one of the worst in the league last year. It couldn’t stop anybody and knew it. So with the second overall pick, Denver drafted Von Miller from Texas A&M. With Elvis Dumervil returning from IR, the two have been an unstoppable pass-rushing combination.

In the five games they have won with Tebow at the helm, Miller and Dumervil have racked up 5.5 sacks each. That’s 11 sacks in five games between two players.

The emergence of the Broncos defense may well be credited to the two pass-rushers, but the rest of the defense has been playing great football too.

In the five victories, Denver had given up an average of 221 passing yards per game, conceding just six touchdowns and amassing four interceptions. Not to be outdone, the rush defense has not allowed a single rushing touchdown in the five victories—unless you are willing to count New York’s Matt Slauson recovering a fumble on the one-yard line and taking a small step into the end zone.

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 06:  Elvis Dumervil #92 and Jason Hunter #52 of the Denver Broncos sack Carson Palmer #3 of the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum on November 6, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In addition to this, Denver’s opponents in those five games have had a combined third- and fourth-down conversion rate of 25.7%, which would lead the league for the season.

The Broncos defense is giving up an average of 15 points a game during the five wins, giving up 20-plus points just once.

Meanwhile, Tim Tebow and the high school offense are scoring just 17.8 points per game. Tebow’s best work has come on the ground—he has a completion percentage on the year of 45.8 percent, which includes his season-high 50 percent against the Chargers last Sunday.

While Tebow’s stats of nine total touchdowns and no interceptions in his five wins are deceivingly good, the defense has just been downright good.

You could make a case that the teams the Broncos have played have hardly been the toughest in the NFL. Oakland has been the most threatening opponent, while San Diego and New York have disappointed this season, as have Miami and Kansas City.

However, their schedule does get harder in the last five games of the season.

They will have to elevate their game on both sides of the ball if they are to continue their playoff push as they face playoff contenders in Chicago and New England, whilst also facing road trips to Minnesota and Buffalo before a divisional season finale against what could be a Kyle Orton lead Kansas City.

In these remaining games, averaging 17.8 points a game may not be enough to keep Denver’s winning streak alive. The defense should be enough to keep them in a couple of those games, but Tebow will need to improve his game to keep the Broncos in playoff contention.

I’m sure there are many people reading this who will share my opinion that there is no way Tebow would be 5-1 as a starter with his statistics alone. Tebow does deserve credit for leading his team to fourth-quarter comebacks, but it is because of the defense that he is in the position to make those comebacks.

His leadership has his team believing in him and gradually becoming the face of the franchise. But don’t be fooled. Next time you board the Tim Tebow bandwagon, be sure to realize that it is the Broncos defense which is fueling this late-season playoff push.