In the first Around the Dorm of the spring semester, the “Ref,” Alex Wolfe, challenges Sports Assistant Chris Molicki, Staff Writer Brandon Gould and Staff Writer Mike Pietroforte to answer questions about whether Tim Tebow has a future in Denver, if the 49ers are a legit Super Bowl contender, and whether the New York Knicks can get their acts together this season.
1. Tim Tebow just got his ass handed to him by the Patriots, and he didn’t look good at all during it. How many more seasons do you give him as the Broncos starter?
CM: Tebow should be the Denver starting QB for at least the next few seasons. It really annoys me how in the world we live in, people’s entire perspective of a player can change completely in a week. Tebow just shredded the Steelers last week, and now people are calling for his head after a loss to the Patriots that really wasn’t his fault. The game plan didn’t let him throw enough and called for too many option plays which weren’t working. The offensive line didn’t give him any time. And Brady was Brady, not letting the Broncos in the game. Many people forget how Tebow transformed this team and the success he had. It’s a shame that this is still even a question. He really isn’t that bad of a quarterback, and a full offseason, especially with John Elway, will do him wonders. The organization owes him a few more years at the very least.
BG: The Broncos really looked like a sad bunch in the beginning of this season and then Tebowmania erupted. He didn’t look great doing it, but Tebow was winning games. The defense and the Broncos’ kicker — I pray to you Matt Prater — deserve credit as well, but you can’t help but be impressed at how Tebow rallied the troops. He needs to continue to develop, there’s no doubt about that, but at the same time he didn’t have much to work with on offense. John Elway, who seems to be coming around on Tebow, needs to transfer his Hall of Fame ability on the field into the front office and get the man some serviceable weapons — (cough) tight end (cough). All in all, I think Tebow’s bought himself at least the next two seasons to prove what he can do.
MP: I wouldn’t give Tim Tebow another full season as the Broncos starter. As you can tell from the Broncos’ quarterback shuffling this season, a lot of change can happen in only a few weeks. The Broncos doubted Tebow from the beginning, starting the season with him as their third-string QB. After five weeks, they made him their starter over Kyle Orton. Although Tebow had success early on, teams seemed to figure him out near the end of the season. In his last five games, Tebow threw only three TDs, compared to four INTs, and posted a dismal 63.5 quarterback rating. An argument most people make for Tebow is that he keeps the Broncos in games because he doesn’t turn the ball over, but this is far from true. In addition to his four INTs, Tebow fumbled the ball six times in his last five games. Tebow just doesn’t fit the mold of QBs that lead successful teams. Out of all the quarterbacks with postseason statistics, Tebow is the only one to have a completion percentage under 50 percent, with 40.4 percent. Unless Tim Tebow makes some serious adjustments to his passing game, the Broncos would benefit from starting a real QB.
AW: Brandon gets 3, because Tebow really did seem to bring a winning mindset to the Broncos, which can’t be overlooked. Chris gets 2, because that Pats game was called terribly by the Bronco coaches. Mike gets 1, because I think Tebow deserves a little bit more time.
2. The 49ers pulled a surprising and dramatic upset against the Saints. Will they be able to work their magic straight to the Super Bowl?
CM: The 49ers really surprised me. I didn’t expect them to be able to pull off the upset, but their defense looked absolutely dominant and their physical play had me fearing for Darren Sproles’ life. They proved my notion wrong, that this is a passing league and a dominant quarterback will beat a dominant defense (even though Alex Smith looked pretty good). With what I saw, they can absolutely do that to get to the Super Bowl. If they can harass Drew Brees and the Saints’ all-pro offensive line, they can certainly do that to Eli Manning and the Giants. The 49ers are playing a scary style of football that is based on brutalizing the opponent. The Giants’ pass rush should make it a close game, but I think it would be hard to bet against the Niners with the way they’re playing. If they make it to the Super Bowl, I think they have a good shot to win it all. Jim Harbaugh would be gunning for revenge against his brother John, and we all know how Brady does against intense pressure like the Niners bring. It looks like the magic is alive and well by the bay.
BG: I wouldn’t call it magical more than I think I’d refer it as fortunate. The 49ers were impressive as they worked their way down the field to beat the Saints, but it never should have come down to that. The Niners jumped out to a 17-0 lead, while the Saints continued to find new ways to turn the ball over. The Niners’ offense just couldn’t find a way to put the Saints away. Some credit there does go to the Saints for shutting down everything the Niners had on offense, except for tight end Vernon Davis — I’m still at a loss to explain why Gregg Williams didn’t double cover him down the stretch. The win was a quality win nonetheless, but does anyone really expect the Niners to force the New York Giants to turn the ball over five times? Exactly.
MP: What surprised me the most in the 49ers’ victory was that their offense actually showed up to play. Alex Smith showed that he can man the helm, throwing the ball 42 times and completing almost 60 percent of those passes. With their already dominant defense, if the Niners can accompany that with a simply competent offense, they become a very scary team. While the defense didn’t exactly shut down Drew Brees and the Saints, they dominated the turnover margin, by recovering three fumbles and snagging two interceptions. In the playoffs, the teams that win the turnover battle usually win the game. The 49ers have already shown that they can beat good teams. During the regular season they posted victories against the Eagles, Lions, Steelers, and Giants. While I wouldn’t call them favorites against the Patriots or the Ravens, the 49ers have shown that they are not a team to be overlooked and that they can compete with explosive offenses like that of the New Orleans Saints. Look for the Niners as a serious upset pick.
AW: Mike gets 3, because the offense is the real X-factor for the Niners. Chris gets 2 because the defense proved they can hang with good offenses. Brandon gets 1 because the team IS a number 2 seed and shouldn’t be that overlooked.
3. My Knicks are in trouble, experiencing some early season issues. Obviously I think (hope) they can rebound, but what do you set their ceiling at?
CM: The Knicks are an interesting case. They seem to have been playing worse with Carmello Anthony, even though he has clearly been their best player. The Knicks have two huge problems: defense and shot selection. They really don’t play defense, and the only way to completely change that is if they fire Mike D’Antoni. And how many times have you seen Toney Douglas or Iman Shumpert jack up a stupid three without even passing the ball? Better shot selection and guard play is something they need to work on and I think it will get better. Once Baron Davis gets healthy and Shumpert gets more experience, the team will receive a huge boost. With how weak the Eastern Conference is, the Knicks shouldn’t be in danger of missing the playoffs. However, because of their defensive woes, I can’t see them finishing any higher than third in the conference. They are in a different class than the Heat and the Bulls. There need to be some changes in the coaching and philosophy of the team if they truly want to be thinking championship.
BG: The Knicks have the pieces there to make some noise. The combination of forwards Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire would make any team relevant. Center Tyson Chandler will provide some serious value if he continues to go along his near double-double pace and play adequate defense. However, the X-factor and the thing that will determine the Knicks’ ceiling will be the play of their guards. Rookie shooting guard Iman Shumpert has been pretty good to this point in the season, but the Knicks are going to need someone to step up and play the point. Someone between Toney Douglas, Baron Davis or Mike Bibby has to step up and take hold of this job. With that said, even at their current record, the Knicks are in line to make the playoffs. I don’t think the Knicks can hang with the Chicage Bulls or the Miami Heat, but they’re 5-2 against teams in the Eastern Conference right now and that’s a good sign heading forward.
MP: Although they have had their share of stumbles so far this season (losing to the Raptors and the Bobcats on consecutive nights?!), I think the Knicks still have a very high ceiling. By adding a defensive centerpiece like Tyson Chandler to a Mike D’Antoni team that will consistently put up significant scoring, the Knicks have built a competitor. In the weak Eastern Conference, led by young and unproven teams like the 76ers and the Pacers, the Knicks should not be thrown into panic mode this early in the season. Without a doubt the Knicks are a playoff team, and when you have two dominant scorers like Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, as well as a strong defensive presence in the paint, which Chandler brings, it’s difficult to count them out of any series. Give the Knicks some time to gel as a unit, and you’ll find that when the games become a little more important, the veteran stars will show up to play.
AW: Brandon gets 3 for bringing up the guard play and its importance on the Knicks’ success. Mike gets 2 for pointing out the general weakness of the East. Chris gets 1, because I love the argument on shot selection, but the Knicks are actually doing pretty well defensively this year, in the top half of the league in scoring defense and turnovers while playing their fast tempo.
Brandon wins the first AtD of 2012, 7 – 6 – 5.
“And that’s how it’s done. #winning.” — Brandon