While Tebow makes strides, Raiders take step back

November 7, 2011, 2:00 am
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The Denver Broncos decided for a day not to remake Tim Tebow in their image, and with apologies for the Biblical suggestion, and succeeded by making themselves in his.This is a simplistic analysis that gives Tebow too much credit for Denvers 38-24 come-from-the-afterlife win over Oakland, but if you view Tebow not as the religious conscience of American sport but as a quarterback whose game was perfectly tailored to the college world, this was a significant development.As well as a damned impressive win.

All along it has been postulated that the Broncos have thrown Tebow into the wildly technological world of Sunday afternoons in hopes that they could get through this mutant experiment as quickly as possible. Sunday showed that they are more willing to work with Tebows idiosyncrasies, and become a more collegiate, if not collegial, offensive operation.Were starting to utilize a more collegiate style of offense, head coach John Fox said after watching his team move to with a game of the lead in the freefalling AFC West, where defense is essentially an afterthought. Were not there yet, but were working on it.Yes, they are indeed. Running a version of the classic option series, the Broncos got 163 yards from Willis McGahee and another 117 from Tebow -- both representing more yards than they gained in Tebows 21 pass attempts (when you include the 11 yards in sacks).And the acknowledgement that Tebow is a square peg who isnt going to triumph against a round hole was central to the Broncos win. Their offense isnt fully square yet, but it had more Tebowian edges to it Sunday, and will have to find a happy middle in order to beat the defenses that will learn from what the Raiders did not.Or would not.Either the Raiders didnt prep for it properly (the Broncos did gain 190 in a 45-10 loss to Detroit a week ago, so its hard to imagine how they couldnt), or didnt take it seriously enough. Whatever the reason, they chased a full house from the Coliseum well before seagull time, and have now cast doubt over a promising start to the season. Theyve given up 66 points to divisional opponents at home in successive weeks, and look as tattered and threadbare as they did in the worst parts of last season, and the seven before that.As for Hue Jackson, he offered this very Callahan-ic analysis of his team, its day, and its place: We're not a very intelligent football team right now.Fifteen penalties for 130 yards, 30 more than they accumulated running the ball, was one thing. Allowing 298 rushing yards a year after gaining more than 300 on the ground against the same team was another. They seemed collectively listless, confused, frustrated and, by the time of McGahees game-sealing 24-yard touchdown run, inert.Not intelligent, is entirely a matter of opinion. Not energetic, is indisputable. Clearly this is a rockier road they are going to travel than at first we thought, and Jackson has to find a way to relocate what this team did well early on, or risk losing it as his parade of predecessors have.Because, and this is the important point to make here, what Denver did was not all that radical, or different from what theyd tried to do in the past two Tebow weeks. But they committed to it more Sunday because the Raiders chose not to deal with it in an adult way.Tebow is still an erratic passer, and probably always will be. He will not be a classic anything, but he will thrive against teams that dont believe he can beat them. He put off the Armageddon of re-losing his job, and he is still part of the can-he-or-cant-he debate that gripped the nation early last week.As for the Raiders, they have reached the critical point that they have failed to conquer for most of the last decade -- confronted by their shortcomings in belief and detail work, they must regather themselves or watch the ground rush up to hit them in the face.But if it helps at all, Tim Tebow is praying for them.