DENVER - The go-to number when discussing Tim Tebow's quarterbacking (aside from the wins) is his completion percentage.How can a guy win six straight games in the NFL of 2011 when he's completing only 48 percent of his passes? It's the worst in the league. But the stat that helps explain why he is successful - and it's a stat that goes back to Florida and likely before - is giveaways. Tim Tebow doesn't turn the ball over. In his eight starts, he's been intercepted twice and thrown 11 touchdowns. He's fumbled three times. His interception percentage is one percent. Best in the NFL. Josh Freeman's thrown 18 picks. Cam Newton's thrown 16. We could go on. But being at the bottom of the league in completion percentage is a lot worse if some of those incompletions are caught by the other team. Tebow's are not. Hence, his very capable defense is not put in bad situations one or more times per game as the rest of the league's defenses are. And how often are we told that turnovers and red zone play are the key indicators for wins and losses? (Lots). Another stat? Not only is Tebow 32nd in completion percentage, he's also 32nd in rushing. Among all rushers. He's got the second-most yards among quarterbacks behind Newton's 554. Tebow's got 517. Look at it this way, on those 91 runs, he's averaging 5.5 per carry. Add the 517 yards rushing to the 1,290 passing and you have a player who's got 1,807 positive yards from scrimmage and five turnovers (he's lost three fumbles). And he's done that in eight starts. This is how Tebow has operated though. In college, he threw 88 touchdown passes and 16 picks. There were 40 games in which he was the Gators' true starter in the SEC where he played under scrutiny, pressure and against the best competition and athletes in college football. That helps explain why he's so good in end-game situations as well. By way of comparison, Mark Sanchez had 15 starts at USC. And he threw 14 picks in those games. Tebow is a more experienced, tested, smarter and productive quarterback than he's been given credit for. And even though his completion percentage is down, he's a pretty complete player.
FOXBORO - If Alan Branch is worried about his spot with the Patriots, he isn’t acting that way. A notorious slow starter, Branch played just six snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. And to hear him talk, it’s business as usual.
“It’s not like you can practice 3 technique on a store clerk,” said Branch late Wednesday afternoon. When informed that he probably could if he wanted, Branch smiled and noted “you’d probably get arrested for that.”
All kidding aside, it was stark to see Branch’s ample behind stapled to the bench. He earned a two-year contract this offseason, and his presence on the interior has been critical to the defense’s success. But after getting pushed around a bit too often in that opening night loss to the Chiefs, Branch spent a lot more time watching then playing. Did he know that he wasn’t a big part of the plan?
“That’s another question you gotta ask Bill, man” said Branch. “That’s not something I can talk about.”
Branch has - at times - come off as nonchalant about the game. Wins, losses, big plays, no plays, none of it seems to change his demeanor. Knowing that, I asked him if he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.
“I mean every player wants to be on the field so it is what it is,” he responded.
Does he think that he’ll be more involved Sunday against the Texans?
“I don’t know what they plan to do with me,” he said. “i just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work.”
That may be Bill Belichick’s plan: sitting the player to motivate him. It would also seem to be potentially the last resort, and with someone who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, it’s unclear how he’ll respond.
Wednesday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Texans game:
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle/concussion)
TE Rob Gronkowski (groin)
WR Danny Amendola (concussion/knee)
WR Phillip Dorsett (knee)
CB Stephon Gilmore (groin)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
WR Chris Hogan (knee)
LB Elandon Roberts (thumb)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)
DT Vincent Valentine (knee)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
G Jeff Allen (ankle)
CB Kevin Johnson (knee)
TE Stephen Anderson (concussion)
RB Alfred Blue (ankle)
WR Will Fuller V (shoulder)
CB Jonathan Joseph (shoulder)
G Xavier Su'a-Filo (knee)
DE J.J. Watt (finger)
CB Marcus Burley (knee)
T Chris Clark (wrist)
WR Bruce Ellington (concussion)
TE Ryan Griffin (concussion)