Philippe Moreau

Roster Changes, Problem Players And Belichick

Created on Sept. 03, 2013 11:01 PM EST

Another off-season ends. Starters will now play for four quarters and games have a whole new meaning. The NFL season is just around the corner, and every team can aspire to win the Lombardi trophy.

For others, however, it symbolizes the end of a dream. Teams have proceeded to cut many players this past Saturday to keep the best 53 players on their regular season roster, and many players might have to do something else than football in the fall. For some, a fall without football isn't something they expected.

Even though the journey might be heartbreaking, we don’t hear a lot about these players, who, in a short period of time, not only had to prove themselves but also had to adapt to new cities, teammates, coaches, and systems.

Mentions of players’ cuts don’t often make the news. Well, except for one guy.

Yeah, you guessed it. Tim Tebow.

Tebow was recently cut from the New England Patriots even though the owner, Robert Kraft, mentioned that he was rooting for Tebow. The quarterback was deemed not good enough to deserve a spot on the roster.

Aside from his recent posts, Tim Tebow’s presence did not create big waves in the media world. His presence on the Patriots’ training camp didn’t create a nuisance to the team, and for a while, it seemed like the quarterback from Florida was treated as what he really is, a player fighting for a spot. He didn’t play too well in the preseason either, except for that fourth game against the Giants, where he posted good numbers, throwing for two touchdowns and 91 yards. It was against the Giants’ replacements mind you, but Tebow was also playing with replacements.

Why was Tebow’s passage in New England more discreet than his passage in New York? It would be easy to point out the difference of coverage between New York and Boston, but previous observations of the New England Patriots would suggest that it’s the way New England manages media relations and how they can keep their focus on the next opponent. Yes, the famous ‟Patriot way.” From the troubling Hernandez situation to the Tebow circus, or whether it’s keeping content players like Corey Dillon or Randy Moss, Bill Belichick and his staff have been nimble in managing those situations and having a good team on the field.

In 2004, Corey Dillon came from the Cincinnati Bengals after spending seven seasons with a deceptive Bengals team where he was one of the few bright spots on an abysmal offense. In the 2003, after expressing his discontent with the Cincinnati team, Dillon was traded to the Patriots for a second round pick. He was labeled as a difficult to please player. 

The same applied to Randy Moss, as fans around the league claimed he was washed up after a brief passage in Oakland. He was also labeled as a trouble maker and a sorry team player. Moss’ passage in New England went pretty well, except for the end which led to him being traded to his old team, the Vikings. Evidence would suggest that what made Randy Moss happier in New England than in Oakland is the fact that Aaron Brooks is not really Tom Brady.

And that is one important point. Football players, as much of a mouthful as they can be, are still playing a game where winning still cures everything. But one question still remains: are troubled players stopping their antics because they are winning or does the fact that this kind of player focus more on his game instead of provoking fans, and this is what makes the Pats win?

Playmakers like Moss and Dillon certainly made a difference, but the core also helped them stay on track. On a team that features a leader like Brady and a skilled coach, players know where to stand. Belichick doesn’t kid around, and sometimes takes risks with his roster. He doesn’t mind letting players go. There’s also that feeling that the Pats can win as long as they have Belichick. Yeah, I know, you’re telling yourself: ‟and Brady?” Well remember 2009, when Matt Cassel took over and went 11-5. You can tell every player knows the vulnerability of his place when a team can lose his three-time winning all-star quarterback and still go 11-5.

The hoodie might not be liked, but he knows how to deal with the media. His experience in Cleveland certainly acquainted him with the media, who can be a coach’s best friend or worst enemy. Rex Ryan’s Jets also can attest how the press can praise or knock down a team.

Belichick’s bottom line approach has certainly helped him be successful. He understands that the NFL is a bottom line business, where a team has to field its 53 best players come opening week, not the nicest or most marketable one, even though the owner of the team might have a certain opinion.

The NFL is hard business, always focusing on tomorrow. That is probably the reason why Tebow has no job as of right now. Remember 2012, when Tebow beat the Steelers in overtime. Now, he can’t even beat Ryan Mallet for a spot and he’s identified as not good enough to keep a spot on the roster. Two years is a long time in this league. One can wonder, if Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III wouldn’t have been available for the draft, would the Colts have kept Peyton Manning and would Tebow be the starting quarterback for the Broncos as of right now? These are only speculations that highlight how one action leads to another in the NFL and how everything goes fast. Belichick got it, and it has served him well thus far.

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