Tebow Is A Patriot. Big Whoop!
The Patriots signing of Tim Tebow is no big deal. Tebow is not guaranteed a roster spot. Regardless of what position he plays, whether it be QB, RB, TE, FB, or even punt protector, he faces steep competition to make the team.
The New England Patriots are neither the 2012 New York Jets nor the 2011 Denver Broncos, teams devoid of talent on offense. Tom Brady is firmly entrenched as the starting QB. Ridley and Vereen make a formidable one-two punch at RB, with Leon Washington, Brandon Bolden, and LeGarrette Blount providing good depth. The team is also stacked at TE with Gronkowski, Hernandez, Daniel Fells, and Jake Ballard.
Despite the popular notion that Tebow can play at other positions, he hasn’t actually proven to be very capable at doing so. He’s never had a career reception. While he does have 989 career rushing yards, he’s also fumbled seven times. Even if he does prove passable at another position, Tebow would be taking away snaps from Gronkowski or Ridley, guys who are proven at their positions.
That leaves Tebow at QB. There’s the career completion percentage of 47.9%, the 6.71 yards per pass attempt, and the dismal career quarterback rating of 75.3. But throwing out statistics for a second, many will point to Tebow’s 8-5 record as the starting QB for the 2011 Denver Broncos, a team which was “dead in the water” until Tebow came to save the day.
Except Tebow had a fantastic defense that came up with big stops and turnovers, a workhorse in Willis McGahee who rushed for 1,199 yards, and a good receiving corps that shined in 2012 with Peyton Manning. The same Denver Broncos also went 13-3 last season without Tim Tebow.
Despite that, ESPN reports that Tebow will only play QB for New England. Taking that at face value, let’s examine the options for Tebow at QB. Barring complete catastrophe or injury, there’s no way Tom Brady isn’t the starting QB for New England. That leaves the backup spot, which is firmly held by Ryan Mallett. The team is reportedly high on Mallett and refused to trade him for a third round pick during the NFL draft in April.
It would be hard for Tebow, who has accuracy issues and is turnover prone, to beat out Mallett who has been in the New England system for two years. While Tebow is familiar with McDaniels system, he flourished in Mike McCoy’s offensive system that was specifically retooled for him. The Patriots will not change their system for Tebow.
Tebow’s deal is for two years at the veteran minimum, with none of it guaranteed. According to Albert Breer of NFL.com, there are playing time incentives in year two.
Knowing the structure of the deal and the way the Patriots organization operates, the best-case scenario for Tim Tebow and the most likely scenario is that Tebow spends the year on injured reserve. Tebow will get a phantom injury in the preseason, like a hamstring injury to Jeff Demps last year, that will allow the team to stash Tebow away for the year. The reasoning behind the move would be to allow Tebow to learn the playbook, learn a new position, and/or refine his mechanics at QB for a year without taking up a roster spot. The second year of the contract, which has the playing time incentives, then allows Tebow to make some money and be rewarded for whatever position he plays.
Ultimately, the Patriots don’t know where he’ll play. A photo tweeted out by WCVB, a local Boston TV station, showed Tebow wearing a red, non-contact QB jersey at the Patriots first mini-camp practice. Tebow is a project, and the Patriots will attempt to find where he works. If he makes the roster, don’t expect big things from him in 2013.