Having played against Broncos QB Tim Tebow in back-to-back SEC Championship Games as a junior (2008) and senior (2009) at Alabama, Chiefs CB
“You can’t go in there thinking that he can’t throw,” said Arenas. “No way. You go in like that and you’ll get beat, because he can throw and he can win.”
Much ado has been made about Denver’s zone-read option offense that helped torch Oakland for nearly 300 rushing yards last Sunday, but Arenas has seen Tebow turn in huge performances through the air as well.
Tebow walked away as the MVP of the 2008 SEC Championship Game after throwing for three touchdowns against the Crimson Tide secondary.
“I know that he’s very capable of putting the football in position for his receivers to catch the ball,” Arenas said. “We as a defensive backfield and our defense as a whole have to be on our (best) game.”
Denver’s offensive attack has been imbalanced thus far with a top-five rushing offense (147.4 average yards per game) paired with a 31st-ranked passing attack (171.3 average yards per game).
With Tebow under center the past three games, the Broncos have run well over their season average with 226.67 rushing yards per game and have thrown slightly below their season average at 152.0 passing yards per contest.
“They are keeping faith in him right now,” Arenas said. “It might not be the way that they want it, but he’s getting it done. I think he’s getting it done and that’s how you have to see it.”
Tebow has completed just 46.4% of his passes this season and is averaging only 5.53 yards per attempt, but he’s also thrown for six TDs and only one INT and led the Broncos to a 2-1 record over his three starts.
He is also Denver’s rushing leader over the past three games with 240 yards on 32 carries (7.5 average yards per carry).
“I made sure I visited with all of our [Southeastern Conference] guys and just kind of picked everybody’s brain to see potential things we could see,” head coach Todd Haley said.
“I’m just telling everyone what I know,” said Arenas. “He’s faster than he looks, he can throw the ball and he can buy himself time (in the pocket) because he’s hard to tackle. That’s my experience in dealing with him.”
Broncos Key Fast Start
The word is out. To beat the Chiefs, you must start fast.
That’s the word coming out of Denver anyway, and who can argue with the logic?
The Chiefs are averaging just 7.5 points per game in their four losses this season and have been outscored 64-13 in the first half of those games. Kansas City’s first half fortunes have been much different in the team’s four wins, outscoring opponents 50-34.
“There have been some teams that have got up on them and made some plays,” Tebow said via conference call. “Those are teams that started early, so I think it’s best for us to start executing early in the game and not wait. I think that will be big for us.”
Though the slow starts can be attributed to a number of factors, Haley has had the offense focused on first down improvement this week.
“What we’ve got to be better at on is first down, just in general,” Haley said. “Offensively when we aren’t efficient on first down, it kind of puts us in the hole in second and third down and we just can’t afford that so we are putting an emphasis on being better on first down whether we are throwing it or running it.”
Kansas City’s first down yardage chart isn’t particularly impressive.
The Chiefs rank 27th in the NFL averaging 5.01 yards per first down snap, but face a 2nd-and-8 or longer nearly 60% of the time. It’s put the team in too many 3rd-and-long situations.
Kansas City’s saving grace has been a top-five conversion percentage (35.7%) on 3rd-and-long.
“I think we break first down up, and always have, from a standpoint of drive starters, things that are relatively safe or block them up chunk plays,” Haley explained. “I think, philosophically, you’re making decisions during the week, in the game, depending on what you’re seeing. Generally, you’re going to get something different on first down than you are on third down, especially a team like Denver.”
Though he remains optimistic about his chances to play this weekend, Arenas (ankle) was downgraded Thursday afternoon to a limited practice participant. Arenas went through practice in its entirety on Wednesday after missing the first game of his NFL career last weekend.
Chiefs Injury Report
LB Demorrio Williams – Did Not Participate in Practice (Groin)
CB Javier Arenas – Limited Participation (Ankle)
S Jon McGraw – Full Participation (Shoulder)
Broncos Injury Report
The Broncos listed seven players on Wednesday’s injury report, but upgraded nearly half that list following Thursday’s practice.
Brian Dawkins, Virgil Green and Spencer Larsen all practiced in full after previously participating in limited roles.
Did Not Participate in Practice: LB Wesley Woodyard (Knee)
Limited Participation: S Rahim Moore (Concussion), CB Cassius Vaughn (Hamstring)
Full Participation: S Brian Dawkins (Thigh), TE Virgil Green (Neck), RB Willis McGahee (Hand), FB Spencer Larsen (Shoulder)