Are Belichick and Tebow a perfect match?
Tim Tebowâs first minicamp workout as a Patriot is finished (he went 4 for 7). His jersey is on sale (heâll wear No. 5). And New England coach Bill Belichick has thrown his first wet blanket on Tebowmania (âWeâll see how it goesâ).
Just as Tebowâs NFL career hung by a thread, the Patriots swooped in and gave him a shot of reclaiming his pro career. Whether heâs a quarterback or a multi-faceted offensive weapon (or linebacker, for that matter) is up in the air.
Here are a few reasons Tebow and Pats are a good match, a few reasons it might fail and insight from the experts.
Why it might work
He wonât sniff the starting quarterback job.
The backup quarterback for Tom Brady is a little less popular than the one for Mark Sanchez, to say nothing of the third-stringer. Tebow starts behind Brady and Ryan Mallett, signaling Tebowâs status as an experiment. An injury to Brady is the only thing separating the Patriots from the âTebow should startâ firestorm, but Brady has made 71 consecutive starts.
He can flourish as a specialist.
The theory is that Belichick will find a way to capitalize on Tebowâs size, toughness and athleticism. New England is where a linebacker became a red zone receiving threat, where a Jets castoff from Chadron State amassed more than 2,100 yards from scrimmage in three seasons, where a converted MAC quarterback has been a key contributor on special teams and as receiver, and where a veteran receiver played cornerback during a Super Bowl run.
Even if Tebow is not a Mike Vrabel, Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman or Troy Brown, heâs still the only read option quarterback on the Patriotsâ roster. And with the two-year-old rule allowing emergency quarterbacks to be active for the entire game, Belichick has extra flexibility.
Heâs in the right organization.
Tebowâs hometown organization of Jacksonville wanted nothing to do with him, so this is as close as a homecoming as the lefty could have. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels drafted him in Denver, Belichick and former Florida coach Urban Meyer are close colleagues (and Vrabel is now Meyerâs linebackers coach at Ohio State). Three other members of Floridaâs 2008 title team are on the Patsâ roster -- tight end Aaron Hernandez, linebacker Brandon Spikes and defensive end Jermaine Cunningham.
Why it might not work
Heâs not suited to any position, provided heâs willing to move
Hereâs what we know: Tebow is a liability as a passer. Heâs a physical runner taking direct snaps or scrambling. Thereâs little evidence other than his build that suggests Tebow can play tight end, fullback or H-back in the NFL. Tebow has never caught a pass at the collegiate or pro level. He may not be the next Brad Smith or Kordell Stewart. That, of course, assumes Tebow is willing to be Belichickâs and McRobertsâ wild card in the offense in the first place.
Brady gets hurt
Even the most ardent (and sane) Tebow fan can live with the lefty backing up Brady, but what if Bradyâs out of the picture? Heâll be 36 years old and already missed a season to a torn ACL. If Tebow is in a realistic position to start for New England, expect the Tebow brigade to speak up.
Reaction from the experts:
â¢ USA Todayâs Dan Shanoff, who established the TimTeblog, wrote in April he thought the Patriots were always the most logical landing spot. âWatch Belichich get Tebow 10 TDs, just to show he can.â Shanoff lists some of the same reasons Athlon did as to why it may work in New England, but notes some of the intangibles and the possibilities of it works out:
Just when you think things canât get any more crazy, they do. Forget how last season played out and consider the long game: Given the widespread animus for both Tim Tebow and Boston sports teams/fans, it would take the Tebow insanity to new levels.
â¢ Chris Brown at Smart Football notes Tebow has improved little as passer, especially since regressing at Florida in 2009, but heâs modestly hopeful he can clean up his deficiencies now that heâs in the right spot.
His flaws (in 2005) are still his flaws now, but the talent is still there too, though somewhat obscured. The question is whether, in 2013, itâs too late for Tebow to learn any better.
â¢ Bruce Allen at Boston Sports Media looks at the media circus angle for the Patriots. Yes, itâs going to be crazy at first. Itâs red meat for the talking heads, but the media throng will shrink eventually. Timothy Burke at Deadspin notes ESPN mentioned Tebow 137 times in 120 minutes Tuesday.
â¢ Ben Volin, who covered Florida during the 2008 national championship run, is back on the Tebow beat now that he covers the Pats for the Boston Globe. Heâs one of the myriad reporters and columnists saying Tebow has landed in the perfect spot.
In theory, Tebow is athletic enough to be a âslashâ type of player like Kordell Stewart or Jim âCrashâ Jensen. Heâs big enough to play tight end (6 feet 3 inches, 236 pounds), smashes into defenders hard enough to play fullback, and throws well enough to be a trick-play asset on special teams.
â¢ And on to the only place where Tebow is a sure thing: The Patriots opened the online store for Tebow jerseys, as noted by Sports Grid. The Patsâ email was sent before Tebow had a jersey number (Mallett wears No. 15, Tebow will wear No. 5).
â¢ Odds are youâll read some unintentionally bad columns about the Tebow signing. Might as well read one thatâs trying to be awful from Grantlandâs Andrew Sharp. The tally: 36 paragraphs, 19 of them are a sentence or less.