NFL: Can Tebow be stopped?
LAKE FOREST, Ill. ó Chicago defensive tackle Henry Melton had some quick answers to the challenge facing the Chicago Bears this Sunday. How do you stop Tim Tebow, whoís been as effective as he has been unorthodox?
ěTackle him,î Melton said when asked about the 236-pound quarterback whoís helped make option football a part of NFL lingo.
His passing might not be precise or textbook, but Tebowís ability to take off running has led the Broncos to five straight wins.
Any secret plans?
ěSack him,î Melton said with a laugh. ěWeíve got a couple things weíre working on to get him down. Iím not going to say too much. … I think weíre going to do something different than a lot of teams did. Tebow was running free on them.î
Playing in Denverís high altitude against a quarterback whoís hot and also unpredictable makes Sundayís game even more difficult for a Bears team struggling on offense. Backup Caleb Hanie has thrown three interceptions in each of his two starts since Jay Cutler was knocked out with a broken thumb. And now versatile leading rusher Matt Forte is out with a sprained knee.
The Bearsí defense did OK last week in a frustrating 10-3 loss to struggling Kansas City that left the Bears at 7-5.
The lone TD was a head-shaker: Linebacker Brian Urlacher and safety Chris Conte went up at the same time to bat down a Hail Mary pass from Tyler Palko at the end of the half and ended up knocking the ball right to the Chiefsí Dexter McCluster.
To end their two-game losing streak, the Bears must shake off the home loss, face a formidable Denver defense and also figure out how to corral Tebow, whoís 6-1 this season as a starter.
ěWhatever heís doing, theyíre winning games,î Urlacher said Thursday.
And for those who say Tebowís style can be a bit ugly, his passes far from perfect, Urlacher responds with a ěwho cares?î
ěIíve never been part of an ugly win, I know that much,î Urlacher said. ěIíve been in some ugly losses but ugly wins donít exist. … Their whole team is playing well right now. Itís not just one guy.î
The Bears have already beaten two quarterbacks who can take off and run this season ó Carolina rookie Cam Newton and the Eaglesí Michael Vick.
ěCarolina. They do some of the same things, itís just that Cam Newton is a little bit faster,î Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said of facing an option attack. ěTeams do it. Teams do it, they just donít live and die by it like Denver.î
His take on Tebow?
ěWell, heís a scrambler, they run a lot, heís one heck of a football player, and weíre going to have to stop that,î Briggs said.
Tebow also had a decent game passing last week in a tight victory over the Vikings, completing 10 of 15 for 202 yards and two TDs. The Bears will have to make sure they arenít vulnerable to play action if they concentrate too much on shutting down the Broncosí running game that also features Willis McGahee, who is closing in on 1,000 yards but nursing a sore knee.
ěThey run the ball with power, too. Itís not just the option,î Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. ěAnd the quarterback, he probably runs as much after he drops back and throws. If itís not there, heíll take off and run. Heís gotten a lot of yardage as a runner off of drop-back passes, as much as he has with the option.î
Marinelli said that playing against Newton and Vick this season helps, but is quick to add that Tebow has his own style. Tebow has gained 468 yards rushing and averaged nearly six yard per carry.
ěHe doesnít shy away from contact. We respect that. We understand that,î Marinelli added. ěHeís a big athlete. Heís nimble and heís a fighter.î
Tebow has led game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime five times in his first 10 starts.
ěOne of the important things for them in games is that theyíve kept it relatively close, or close enough that they can make something happen at the end of the game,î Briggs said.
And the Bears must not let containment slip away at critical junctures.
ěNew York allowed him to scramble out of the pocket and didnít keep him inside,î Briggs said of the game in which the Broncos rallied past the Jets with a late 95-yard drive capped by Tebowís 20-yard TD run.
ěAnd then after that, just get him down,î Briggs said. ěItís important to get that guy down.î
The Associated Press