Source: USA TODAY
Will the third time be the charm as Tim Tebow prepares to join his next NFL team, the New England Patriots?
Maybe … and maybe not:
FIVE REASONS WHY TEBOW IN NEW ENGLAND IS A GOOD IDEA
1. Bill Belichick knows how to maximize talent: This is the same head coach who made former starting wideout Troy Brown into an effective defensive back when the New England secondary was decimated by injuries.
Remember moonlighting tight end Mike Vrabel? The former linebacker caught 12 passes in his NFL career … all for touchdowns.
Belichick also gets a lot of credit for recently re-popularizing double-tight end formations and making them effective and all the rage in league circles. In short, the coach is always on the cutting edge. If anyone knows who to get the most out of Tebow’s arm — or legs, or the rest of his body — it’s probably Belichick.
2. Josh McDaniels has had a vision for Tebow: The Patriots offensive coordinator didn’t get much chance to deploy Tebow, whom McDaniels traded up to get in the first round of the 2010 draft while running the Denver Broncos, before he was fired from his post.
But clearly he saw something in the former Heisman Trophy winner that made him think he was worth such a pricey NFL investment. (And given the lack of established wideouts in New England — journeymen Danny Amendola and Michael Jenkins are the most accomplished — why not go with some run-heavy, Tebow-flavored formations?)
3. No pressure: Tebow led the Broncos to the AFC West crown in 2011 (ironically, their season was resoundingly ended by the Patriots in the playoffs) after being thrust into the lineup midway through a then-disastrous campaign following a near mutiny by the fan base. He was acquired last year by the New York Jets, who purportedly had major plans to involve the scatter-armed quarterback into their offense, though that never really happened.
In New England, expectations should be more than tempered, because Tom Brady isn’t coming off the field unless he’s on a stretcher.
4. Familiarity: Tebow spent the 2012 season studying AFC East opponents and brings some insider knowledge of the Jets, though New York’s offense is now in overhaul mode. Even if the Pats, who once struck gold after claiming Jets castoff Danny Woodhead, glean a few helpful nuggets from Tebow, this move could at least pay a few dividends.
5. Backup QBs have done well in Foxborough: After being coached up by Belichick for three years, Matt Cassel stepped in for injured Brady in 2008 and played excellent football for most of his 15 starts. Drew Bledsoe came off the bench in the 2001 AFC Championship Game and led the Pats past the Pittsburgh Steelers into Super Bowl XXXVI. Even Doug Flutie, another oft-maligned former Heisman winner, had his famous dropkick moment courtesy of Belichick. (Yes, we’re stretching.)
FIVE REASONS WHY TEBOW IN NEW ENGLAND IS A BAD IDEA
1. Tom Brady: Though the two-time MVP’s presence should curtail questions about Tebow’s role, will Brady’s new understudy really be granted the valuable reps he needs to polish his spotty game?
2. The dream: As previously noted, Belichick knows how to put his charges in position to succeed … and often thanks to outside-the-box thinking. Yet Tebow has been unwavering in his desire to be an NFL quarterback. How’s he going to take it when his new boss says, ‘Look, we need you at tight end and H-back. Forget the quarterback stuff.’ If such a request came and Tebow stiffarmed it, he might be portrayed with some foreign descriptors: malcontent, ingrate or me-first player.
3. The opportunity (or lack thereof?): So what happens if Brady gets hurt? Common sense would seem to dictate that Ryan Mallett (who, by the way, wears Tebow’s familiar No. 15) would take the reins given he’s already been immersed in the playbook for two years. But if there is a scenario in which Tebow is forced under center, is he really up to the task of piloting a demanding, cutting-edge offense given his inability to prosper with a conventional approach for the Broncos — they ended up installing a read-option attack for Tebow — and failure to even secure a niche role in New York?
Let’s face it, microsecond analysis of the field is not Tebow’s forte, but it’s a trait Brady possesses and one his team relies upon. If the Patriots do break the emergency glass and throw Tebow at a fire, how long would it really be until they traded for a fire extinguisher named Cassel or Hoyer?
4. The recent track record: Vrabel, Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Corey Dillon all flourished in Foxborough after being marinated in the Patriot Way. But more recently, Chad Johnson, Albert Haynesworth, Brandon Lloyd and Adalius Thomas are among the high-profile acquisitions who have had low-level production before washing out.
5. The distraction: The Patriots are known for their buttoned-up approach to football and propensity to program players before reporters descend on the locker room. But will such a culture work in the face of Tebowmania? The Jets constantly put Tebow, arguably their most popular player in 2012, in front of cameras even though backup quarterbacks rarely have the forum to generate so many headlines. Will the Patriots let him keep talking? Will a Tebow-famished pack of reporters — and Tebow’s legion of nationwide acolytes — revolt if they don’t? It’s not hard to imagine this becoming more trouble than it’s worth in a locker room that doesn’t like sideshows, especially if the other players are forced to answer for a man who might not be allowed to speak for himself.
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis