Mike Sando's MVP Watch
December, 14, 2011
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Jim Cowsert/Icon SMITim Tebow isn't the only quarterback gaining ground in the MVP Watch discussion. Eli Manning (above) appears close to joining Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady near the top of the list.Few players can realistically contend for MVP honors in the NFL with only 11 starts in a full season.
It's just not feasible.
Of course, few can do what Tim Tebow is doing in Denver.
Tebow, who's on pace for 11 starts by season's end, still has not cracked the weekly MVP Watch list. He is coming close, however, and a Tebow-led Denver Broncos victory over New England in Week 15 would be impossible to overlook no matter how inartistic the performance appears through three quarters.
The way the Broncos' second-year quarterback and all-purpose threat suddenly becomes dominant in fourth quarters continues to confound, as does Tebow's unconventional playing style.
I found Trent Dilfer's column helpful in making sense of the madness. The way Dilfer sees things, Tebow and Cam Newton threaten defenses far more than typical scrambling quarterbacks because defenses must respect them as primary runners, not just occasional ones.
"Defenses find themselves in the almost impossible situation of entering a three-reaction mode," Dilfer wrote. "They can't just react to the fake handoff, and they can't just second react to the threat of the pass. They have to react a third time to threat of the run by the quarterback."
As a result, coverages break down badly enough at times to leave receivers not just open, but completely uncovered. Even unrefined passers can complete passes in those situations. Tebow figures to have additional opportunities against the Patriots' weak pass defense. Count me among those who thinks the Broncos have a chance.