It appears as though the Pittsburgh Steelers have drawn the easiest match-up of the postseason: the 8-8 Denver Broncos. The 7-9 Seattle Seahawks were the easiest draw in last year's postseason though, and they ended up upsetting the New Orleans Saints.
Tim Tebow's reign in Denver started masterfully, as he put together a 7-1 record this year after the removal of Kyle Orton from the starting position. Whether it was clutch defense, masterful planning by John Fox, or "Tebow Time" taking over in the fourth quarter of games, Denver's run to make the postseason was nothing short of remarkable.
The past three weeks, Tebow has hit reality. His loss to the Patriots can be deemed as excusable because not many teams can go toe-to-toe with Tom Brady and company. His efforts the past two weeks have been abysmal though. He was a turnover machine against the Bills, and last week against the Chiefs, Denver lost 7-3. Denver could have won either game to clinch a playoff spot. They lost both...yet still backed into the playoffs with an 8-8 record because nobody else in their division was any better.
Defenses have figured out Tebow, for now, and you don't get much better defensively than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Denver's offense could be historically bad for a playoff game if the Broncos don't mix it up a bit.
The one thing that is great about having Fox as a head coach? He's not afraid to mix it up. He completely changed Denver's offense when Tebow became the starter. Running the football and running the option might work against the average NFL defense, but Fox has to know that it won't work against Pittsburgh. He will put together something more unique to try to catch Pittsburgh by surprise. Could that surprise entail a more traditional "quarterback" who can stand in the pocket? Someone like...Brady Quinn?
The former Browns quarterback was dealt to Denver prior to last season for running back Peyton Hillis and a couple of draft picks. Awesome trade for Cleveland, right? Of course. But, with Orton out of Denver, you have to wonder if Quinn could get an opportunity to play in one of the biggest games Denver has had in several years this weekend.
It's not just me that has thought about the scenario. Mike Florio of PFT mentioned it in his Monday 10-Pack. Even the Denver media asked Fox about playing Quinn in place of Tebow. Fox's response was understandably vague:
"I don't do well with hypotheticals. I anticipate that we will play very well this Sunday."
Quinn faced the Steelers once as a member of the Browns. That came in 2009, and it was the last time the Browns defeated the Steelers. Quinn's line for the game? 6-of-19 for 90 yards. (hmmm...maybe they should just stick with Tebow). Even if that stat line is terrible, that was two years ago. He showed spurts at least twice in his career where he would suddenly get "hot" and throw for a bunch of touchdowns. And, more than anything, I think Browns fans would love to see Pittsburgh fall in the opening round of the playoffs.
What do you think? I'm not suggesting Quinn play the whole game or anything, but would it be wise of Denver to mix in Quinn at quarterback against Pittsburgh?