Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has become the biggest story in the NFL, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez continues to be a mystery, and the Philadelphia Eagles fall to 4-7 as head coach Andy Reid comes under fire. All that is on tap, but as always the Arizona Cardinals get us started.
One of the most difficult obstacles for an athlete to overcome is to shed a negative label they get tagged with. Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl, but he still isn't a big game quarterback and Tony Romo, despite 13 career fourth quarter comebacks including four this season is not clutch, are the two most prominent examples.
Cardinals running back Beanie Wells earned the reputation of being soft and unwilling to play through injuries. While Wells first two seasons weren't the most productive, he did only miss three full games. This year he was out for a Week Three match up against the Seattle Seahawks.
On Sunday, at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Beanie Wells squashed any questions about his willingness to fight through pain. With a brace on his right knee that looked like it weighed more than Larod Stephens-Howling, Wells steamrolled the Rams to the tune of franchise-record 228 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown.
Beanie hit holes without hesitation, made strong cuts, ran through contact, and consistently got to the second level of the Rams defense. Shockingly, that wasn't even the most impressive part. Twice during the game Wells was forced to leave with an injury, the second time he fumbled which led directly to the Rams tying the score at 20. He did not pout or get down on himself; Beanie Wells showed mental toughness, came back into the game and churned out a 53 yard run which led to the game winning field goal.
When Beanie broke the Cardinals single game rushing record you could see his teammates being genuinely happy for him. Despite the effort coming against a woeful Rams defense what Wells did on Sunday was the defining moment of his young career. The Ohio State product took his negative reputation and battered it worse than a defensive player on the receiving end of one his patented stiff arms.
Now onto the rest of the NFL in my Big Three...
I've made it known I am not pro Tim Tebow, I fully admit to not being a fan for a variety of reasons. Here is my attempt to put what Tim Tebow has done so far this season in perspective.
Tebow, despite his 5-1 record as a starter for the Denver Broncos has been a mediocre quarterback. Saying that, there are some things he has done well, Tebow doesn't turn the ball over (only one interception) and consistently makes key plays in the fourth quarter.
Outside of the 38 points the Broncos scored against the Raiders, the other games Tebow has started Denver has scored 18, 10, 17, 17, and 16 points. In games not started by Tebow the Broncos offense scored 20, 24, 14, 23, and 24 points, but had a record of 1-4.
The story of the Denver Broncos turnaround is not Tim Tebow; it is the Denver Broncos defense. Led by the emergence of rookie Von Miller Denver's defense has played like a top five NFL defense.
The perfect example of this was in the win on Sunday against the Chargers. Once again the narrative was Tim Tebow, but the real reason the Broncos pulled out the win was because Miller made an incredible play. With San Diego in field goal range Norv Turner called a run play to set up a FG on 4th down. Von Miller busted through in the backfield, tackled Tolbert for a four-yard loss, and instead of a field goal in the 45 yard range San Diego had to kick a 53 yarder. Nick Novak missed the kick, gave the Broncos great field possession, and the Broncos offense was able to take advantage of a short field. According to most this was Tebow Time. It makes me shake my head.
Mark Sanchez had four touchdown passes and led a game winning drive that culminated in a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with just over one minute left in the game. The win keeps the Jets in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race; they are one game behind the Cincinnati Bengals for the sixth seed.
Sanchez might have played the worst four touchdown game in NFL history. He completed 48%, I repeat 48 freaking percent of his passes. Sanchez threw a terrible interception out his own end zone and at minimum had two more interceptions that were dropped.
The Jets last five games are against the Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and Miami Dolphins. The way Mark Sanchez is playing football I don't see the Jets offense being able to have sustained success against any of those defenses. They will be lucky to go 2-3 in those games unless Sanchez shows dramatic improvement and quick. The Jets are staring in the face of their first non-playoff season in the Rex Ryan era.
As good of a coach as Andy Reid is, throughout his career he has had a bad habit of outsmarting himself. Reid falls in love with the pass when the most talented player on his team is the running back. We saw it many times during Brian Westbrook's time with the Eagles and now it is happening again with LeSean McCoy.
With Vince Young as the starting quarterback, Reid decided the best game plan was to attack the Patriots weak secondary. Young threw the ball 48 times while McCoy received ten carries and only six in the first half.
In the four Eagles wins this season McCoy averages just under 25 carries a game. In the seven Eagles losses McCoy averages 14 carries per game. Pretty telling stat right there.