Patrick Daugherty

Football Daily Dose

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Timmy And The Jets

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Since Napoleon’s last stand claimed tens of thousands of lives and ended his rule of France, “this is so-and-so’s Waterloo” has become one of the English language’s most enduring clichés, particularly in sports.

From a game to an at-bat to a field goal attempt, nearly anything can be somebody’s Waterloo.

Tonight, there are two possible Waterloos we could be treated to.  

In one corner, we have Tim Tebow.

He needs no introduction, but we'll give him one anyway. Despite having thrown just 187 career passes, the Broncos quarterback generates the kind of white-hot debate usually reserved for politics and boxing outcomes.  

You cannot hold a conversation about the man without it turning into the 21st century’s answer to Lincoln/Douglas. Never, or at least in recent memory (memory runs short in the era of Twitter and Tumblr), has someone stirred so much emotion in both his backers and detractors.

Tebow’s backers believe that despite his disastrous throwing mechanics and unnatural skill-set, he has what matters most: leadership and intangibles. His detractors argue that in order to be a successful NFL quarterback you need to be able to, you know, complete passes.

Who’s winning the argument?

The results through Tebow’s first four starts of 2011 have been inconclusive. Yes, in the category every quarterback is ultimately measured by — wins and losses — Tebow is off to a rousing start, going 3-1. In one month, he’s won nearly as many games as Ryan Leaf did in three seasons (four).  

However, in the process he’s faced just one defense ranked better than 21st by yards allowed. That defense, the Lions, tarred and feathered Tebow in truly embarrassing fashion, sacking him seven times while forcing three fumbles and an interception.

Tonight, he’ll face his second defense ranked better than 21st, the New York Jets. If he’s drawn and quartered the way he was against Detroit, it’s entirely possible the Broncos will decide they’ve seen enough to know Tebow is not their long-term answer at quarterback, no matter what he does against the parade of soft defenses he’s set to face down the stretch.

However, if he’s able baffle the Jets the way he did the Dolphins (for five minutes), Raiders and Chiefs, we could be witnessing the official arrival of a unique, fascinating talent.

Tonight may only be one game, but it could very well be Tebow’s Waterloo.  

Which brings us back to his opponent.      

For the Jets, there’s even more on the line than there is for “Two Completion Tim.” Given the opportunity to bury Bill Belichick’s Patriots once and for all last weekend, Gang Green instead humiliated itself at home on national television.

Its proud defense, which has been playing below its usual lofty standards for most of 2011, allowed itself to be sliced and diced by a quarterback mired in perhaps the worst slump of his career entering Week 10.

If the Jets find themselves similarly carved up by someone running the read option this evening, they will be staring at one of the NFL’s harshest realities: windows of opportunity are short around here.

It will be reasonable to assume the defense that bullied the league as it pulled off upset after upset the past two seasons simply isn’t good enough to prop up a pop-gun offense anymore. The Jets could still lose tonight and go on to run roughshod over the Chiefs and Redskins of the world down the stretch, but against opponents that have a clue? They’ll officially be as intimidating as a Gap scarf.

Again, tonight is only one game. But a loss would severely damage the Jets’ playoff hopes, and the embarrassment of losing to the quarterback who can’t throw would be everlasting for a team fueled by pride and ego. Tonight is the Jets’ Waterloo, even if they haven’t realized it.

Health has been hard to come by in Oakland this season. At full strength, Al Davis’ last testament to style over substance could be the league’s most impressive collection of young skill players.

Alas, the group has rarely been able to take the field together in 2011, and Week 11 will be no different. Although the Silver and Black believe Darren McFadden (foot) is "making huge progress,” he remains extremely unlikely to suit up against the Vikings.

That means come Monday he will have missed three consecutive games and been sidelined a total of 29 days. Not good for someone originally forecasted to miss only 2-to-4 weeks. As it is, the Raiders do have one of the best backups in the league in Michael Bush, and coming off a beastly 242 yards from scrimmage effort, he’ll be an RB1 against Minnesota’s sixth-ranked run defense.

Joining DMC on the sideline will be Jacoby Ford. Oakland’s explosive second-year wideout is dealing with the same injury that has proven so bedeviling to McFadden, though he claims his mid-foot sprain is not as severe as his teammate’s.

Regardless, he’ll be missing his third game of 2011, leaving rookie Denarius Moore as the Raiders’ No. 1 receiver one week after he shredded San Diego for five catches, 123 yards and two scores.   

Only three days removed from one of the worst performances of his three-year career, Matthew Stafford (broken finger) appeared to "throw the ball with ease" at Lions practice, taking his customary amount of first-team reps in the process.

Good news, but keep in mind both Stafford and coach Jim Schwartz insisted his finger wasn’t a factor in his awful performance at windy Solider Field on Sunday. Two more days of full practices and glowing reports would be nice heading into the weekend.

The news was not as good for Stafford’s teammate Jahvid Best (concussion), who has yet to be cleared for football activities despite meeting with “several specialists.” As someone who could be a huge help if he ever gets back on the field, Best is worth holding onto if you have an available roster spot. Just know that at this point it’s a leap of faith to assume he’ll be back in time to help you during the fantasy playoffs.

Willis McGahee (hamstring, questionable) is trending toward playing this evening, but could end up a true game-time decision. Lance Ball is the safer play. LaDainian Tomlinson (knee) has been ruled out for the Jets. … The last time Frank Gore (ankle, knee) went into a game looking shaky with injury, he shredded the Eagles for 127 yards on only 15 carries. This time, however, the 49ers appear set to actually proceed with caution. He’ll be a must start against Arizona’s pedestrian run defense as long as he plays, but a limited workload should be expected. … Gore’s Cardinals counterpart Beanie Wells missed practice Wednesday, but is fully expected to play hurt for the fifth straight game. He should be in for a long day against the 49ers’ top ranked run defense. … Michael Vick (ribs) did not practice, and appears set to give way to Vince Young’s first start of the season. … Julio Jones (hamstring) missed Falcons practice Wednesday, and is truly up in the air for Week 11. You should be putting your eggs in other baskets. … Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) is expected to remain out against the Eagles. … Doug Baldwin (concussion) and Sidney Rice (concussion) are both trending toward playing against the Rams. … Malcom Floyd (hip) has been all but ruled out for Week 11. Look for Vincent Brown to make his third straight start.  

Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for He can be found on Twitter .
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