The Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Denver Broncos on Sunday, and the general consensus is that Tim Tebow and the Broncos will be drummed out of the playoffs in short order. And why wouldn't people think that?
Tebow was putrid in his final two games this season, games the Broncos were desperately trying to win. He completed just 37% of his passes. He threw four picks. Even Tebow's vaunted running game was snuffed out, as he averaged just 3.2 yard per carry against the Bills and Chiefs. Those aren't exactly stout defense that have bottled up Tebow, and now he has to face a Steelers defense that, once again, led the league. All of it spells doom for the Broncos.
HOWEVAH, there is another option. Any other QB would have been benched for completing just 37% of his passes. But since Tebow is a magical unicorn fairy who can turn entire oceans into mulled wine, he somehow gets a pass. Well, I say to heck with that. I say, given that John Fox never wanted Tebow as his QB to begin with, he should relegate Tebow to a prayer bench and throw the immortal Brady Quinn in for this contest.
Now, Brady Quinn isn't good. He's awful, frankly. He's only completed 52% of his passes in his career. But hey, that's better than Tebow's horrific 47% career percentage, which has been in decline the past two weeks. Furthermore, the last time that Quinn was a starting QB was back in 2009, when he started ten games for the Browns and produced the following two stat lines:
Week 11 (vs. DET): 21-33, 304 yards, 4 TDs
Week 13 (vs. SD): 25-45, 271 yards, 3 TDs
To be fair to Tebow, I should note that Quinn was horrible in virtually every other game he played that season. But he still managed to have two games where he threw the ball like a competent professional quarterback. Tebow, on the other hand, has no such game on his resume (236 yards was his high this season). The Broncos won games late in the season because Willis McGahee was running effectively and because the defense was playing well. Given Big Ben's current ankle woes and Rashard Mendenhall's ACL tear, it's not insane to think that this Broncos defense could hold down the Steelers. All they would need is some help from the offense to pull off the upset. Doesn't Quinn give them a better chance to do that? Wouldn't he be more likely to take advantage of McGahee drawing defenders in on play action, then getting the ball out to Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas? I think so.
I know the last time this kind of last-minute QB switch happened before a playoff game, Wade Phillips was starting Rob Johnson over Doug Flutie and everything went haywire. And there's always the danger that the Broncos would lose this game and then every Broncos fan would chide Fox for sitting Tebow, presuming Tebow would have fared better.
But Fox's duty is to win this game, and I think he's probably better off trying to win it with a pocket passer, and not with a novelty QB who has just been solved by NFL coordinators. Come on, John Fox. Show some BACKBONE. Bench Tebow and throw Brady in there. Because while watching Tim Tebow founder is fun, watching Brady Quinn do so is doubly enjoyable.