Patriots are perfect fit for Tebow
Why the Patriots are the best possible fit for one Tim Tebow, quarterback at large.
Because the NFL never rests and because the league's biggest news giant was dead asleep, well of course Tim Tebow signed with the New England Patriots in the middle of June. And I'm here to tell you that it's a perfect fit.
This is not breaking news: I've had the Patriots at the top of my list for potential Tebow destinations ever since the New York Jets cut him loose back in April.
I don't think that Tebow changes the Pats outlook for 2013 and if I'm running a team, we're not signing Tim Tebow. There shouldn't -- and probably won't -- be the level of coverage for Tebow as a Patriot that there was for Tebow as a Jet.
But the signing still makes as much sense as anywhere else in the NFL, CFL, AFL or wherever-the-L-else Tebow could sign. Here's why:
Tom Brady is absolutely ensconced as the starter for the Patriots. He's one of the four most-valuable players in the NFL (along with Aaron Rodgers , Peyton Manning and Drew Brees ) and he is possibly the greatest quarterback to ever play football. He's not coming off four neck surgeries and the Pats fanbase isn't full of rabid Tebites, so no one's going to be banging down Bill Belichick's door to insert Tebow or actually use him. The world knows taking Tom Brady off the field is incredibly stupid. Bill Belichick won't be doing that.
Tebow went to New York looking to boost his image and secure a new starting quarterback job in the NFL. That decision couldn't possibly have backfired more on him than it did -- he couldn't beat out Mark Sanchez , barely got time on the field even in the Jets highly touted wildcat package and eventually lost snaps to Greg McElroy . He was left out in the cold by the NFL and, at one point in the past week, there was a "Who gets a job first: JaMarcus Russell or Tim Tebow?" debate going on. Think about that for a second. I'm not saying Tebow deserves any sympathy, but he's been crushed by public opinion and all but shipped off to Australia to try his hand at rugby. He's going to want to come in now, work hard and keep his head down.
You know who drafted Tebow, right? Because it was Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels who selected Tebow in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, overdrafting the hell out of the Florida quarterback and maybe even getting himself fired as a result. Tebow knows McDaniels, McDaniels knows Tebow and they'll be able to work well together. Belichick is BFF's with Tebow's coach from Florida, Urban Meyer, and while that might not make the Hoodie completely familiar with Tebow, it does make this bizarre transition a lot easier than it would to a completely new organization.
The Patriots cover versatility. And maybe Tebow can't throw a pretty spiral, but he can play fullback, he can play tight end (CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reports that Tebow will be learning that position), he can block on extra points and help avoid Rob Gronkowski injuries, and he could provide a smart-ball style option to give the Patriots additional points throughout the season by utilizing him on two-point conversions. He'll keep his mouth shut and do whatever Belichick tells him. They've played Troy Brown and Julian Edelman at corner and Mike Vrabel 's got his share of touchdown passes with the Pats. Danny Woodhead wasn't as talented an athlete as Tebow, but he still became an incredibly productive player in New England.
Don't read the paragraph above as optimistic: I don't think Tebow's going to be some crazy-impactful player in 2013. But what's he costing them? It can't be much -- no one wanted Tebow. Absolute worst-case scenario involves Belichick getting annoyed by the publicity surrounding Tebow and shipping him back off to free-agent land before the season starts. There's way more upside involved in this acquisition than there is downside.
The biggest nightmare with Tebow is the circus that comes to town when he's on your roster. It's been the case ever since he was at Florida, and it's going to be the case as long as he's in the league. People are obsessed with Tebow. (Look how many words I'm writing on a third-string quarterback.) But as lots of smart people will tell you, the Patriots are one of the few spots where that circus can be wrangled. If it gets out of hand, Belichick will dump Tebow. There's the potential for him to settle in, have people stop talking about him and let him quietly learn behind Tom Brady. Ryan Mallett was once a pretty big magnet for discussion, but he got to fade into the background and develop his skills at the Pats quarterback camp. That's what the Pats want to happen with Tebow now.
Speaking of Mallett, did you realize he's a free agent in 2015? He's the current backup and potentially the future in New England ... but not if Tom Brady plays until he's 40. Coincidentally, that might be the same amount of time it takes Tebow to become a conventional NFL passer. (I kid, kind of.) But the point is that Mallett isn't a lock to be the heir apparent in New England -- they can't franchise tag him as a backup, and is Mallett really going to sign a tiny contract to remain the backup until Brady walks away? I wouldn't think so. There's enough interest in him where he could be traded or end up getting signed elsewhere. The Patriots are thinking ahead.
There's no need to bring the 1-yard line into the discussion here: You might not realize it, but Tom Brady is a phenomenal short-yardage rusher. He recognizes when defenses aren't prepared, gets his offense up to the line of scrimmage and picks up a yard quickly when necessary. In fact, guess who has more rushing touchdowns between Brady and Tebow in the past two years combined ... (*hoping you picked Tebow*) WRONG. It's Brady -- he has seven the last two years to Tebow's six. But Tom Brady doesn't run two-point conversions and Tim Tebow is really good at them. Plug him at quarterback and let him run or throw his way to two points, which is actually a smarter move than kicking every time. If the experiment fails or you stop scoring, go back to Stephen Gostkowski jacking 16-yard one-point attempts.
This is actually my favorite reason, and you could add "personal favor" (see: Meyer, Urbs) to the list as well. Would it surprise you in the least if Belichick and the Patriots released a news item announcing the signing of Tebow and simply included the line "We love Tim Tebow as a football player." It wouldn't surprise me, especially after Belichick took the time to personally call out a report that he wasn't fond of Tebow. The only way to truly call that bluff, though? Signing Tebow.
Bluff called. And it might not mean that Tebow ever sees a snap for the Patriots. I'd say it's a total coinflip as to whether or not he ends up on the Week 1 roster. He's got a long way to go, a lot of media to avoid and a lot of hard work to put in.
But for now, he's signed. And there's really not a better spot in the NFL for him. At least right now, anyway.
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