It astonishes me that it is necessary to walk the doubters through this, but Denver is not winning because it has a great defense. Nor can it be honestly said that Denver’s offense is terrible because Tim Tebow is the starting quarterback. Consider the following facts:
Points per game: 23.6 (22nd)
Rush yds per game: 120.5 (19th)
Pass yds per game: 234.7 (17th)
Interceptions: 7 (26th)
Fumbles Recovered: 6 (14th)
Sacks: 30 (7th)
Points per game: 20.1 (21st)
Rush yds per game: 159.7 (1st)
Pass yds per game: 153.1 (31st)
Interceptions: 1 (1st)
Fumbles Lost: 9 (27th)
Sacks given: 16 (10th)
(Note that the NFL ranks sacks given and interceptions by QB rather than by team: Tebow has thrown one while Orton threw eight.)
The astonishing thing isn’t that Denver doesn’t have the league’s best defense, but that it doesn’t even have the league’s worst PASSING offense. What is often overlooked in assessing the Broncos is that in addition to saddling Denver with a low-risk, low-performance passing game, Tebow also provides his team with an EXCELLENT running game. Jacksonville has a much better defense than Denver and an even worse passing game; the primary difference is that Denver gains 40 more rushing yards per game and throws one less interception than the Jaguars. The NFL being a game of inches, that is the difference between 5-1 and 1-5. And given that Tebow rushes for 50.6 yards per game without losing any fumbles and throwing only 0.15 INT per game, it should be fairly obvious that in the case of Denver, the difference is #15.
If Denver’s defense was genuinely as good as everyone keeps saying it is, the Broncos would be the favorites to not only win the AFC West, but would probably have the AFC’s best shot at beating the Packers in the Super Bowl. (Ironically, in light of Tebow’s connection to the First Coast, he would likely have the Jaguars winning the AFC South and playing for home field advantage right now if he was playing with MoJo Drew and the league’s fifth-rated defense instead of a Ravens reject and the league’s 22nd-rated defense.) Tebow isn’t proving a team can win in the NFL with an excellent defense and a caretaker quarterback who doesn’t turn the ball over, that was Trent Dilfer and the 2000 Ravens. He is proving instead that a team can win in the NFL with an average defense, a low-risk, low-performance passing game, and the best running game in the league.