We are one week into Tebow mania and Bill Belichick hasn’t surprised anyone by remaining tight lipped. His first press conference after Tim Tebow was signed involved a lot of “we will do what is best for the team” and “I already answered that” responses. We’ve come to expect this from the man in the hoodie and we’ve also come to expect that he will use players in a way most other coaches wouldn’t.
Three years ago, now Patriots offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, was the head coach of the Denver Broncos. He drafted the highly publicized Florida quarterback and the phrase “Tebow Time” was born. Three years later, McDaniels’ first round draft pick is back in his system. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to Patriots fans. After a few rough patches both in Denver and New York, Tebow now finds himself in an organization that has a proven track record of taking the idea of “position” and throwing it out the window. Tebow has been vocal about wanting to be a quarterback in the NFL, but his agreement to come to New England, where Tom Brady reigns supreme and Ryan Mallett is the heir apparent, says differently.
A former quarterback, Julian Edelman is just one of the many players Bill Belichick has converted. (FILE:USPresswire)
For years, Belichick has shown that just because your name has “QB” or some other position next to it on the roster, that doesn’t mean that’s where you’ll play. He will find out what you can do and where you’ll have the biggest impact on the team, and put you there. Look no further than Julian Edelman. The once Kent State quarterback is now a likely candidate to fill in the hole that Wes Welker left at slot receiver. Not only that, he’s also taken some reps as a defensive back and he’s returned the ball 72 times for the Patriots since he joined the team in 2009.
Looking back a few years, linebacker Mike Vrabel had 9 touchdowns with the Patriots from 2002 to 2007. Belichick would put him on the line and opposing teams wouldn’t know what was coming. It was a sneaky move that worked because who would think a linebacker would be the intended target on a goal line situation.
Then there’s Troy Brown, who became just as valuable on defense as he was on offense. The wide receiver, punt returner and defensive back did it all. As Belichick has said “if there was a job to do, Troy embraced it and did it at a championship level.” Over the course of his 15 season career, the Patriots Hall of Famer had 557 receptions, which puts him second in the Patriots history book and he’s the Patriots all time leader with 252 career punt returns. Not to mention those three interceptions he had back in 2004. Edelman, Vrabel and Brown are just a small sampling of what Belichick has been able to do with players over the years.
With Tebow, we can expect more of the same. The reason why he is in New England is because Belichick saw something in him. He has no guaranteed money on his contract which is good because we’ve seen big names (Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth) come in here before, fail, and take money with them. Tebow will be different though simply because of his attitude. He is obviously a very religious man and he has shown that he is a winner. If Belichick can find a way to use him outside of the quarterback position, this experiment will be a success. He’s a big guy at 6’3″, 236 pounds and could very well find himself in a tight end type position. With Rob Gronkowski scheduled to have back surgery this upcoming week, the Patriots will have a hole to fill to start the season. That’s not to say Tebow will replace the Gronk because no one can do that, it’s just to say Tebow is a big body who if taught the ways of the system, could be a temporary substitute. We’ll find out very quickly how high his football IQ is because guys who can’t grasp the system, don’t last long in New England.
Tebow is about to find out that it’s about his skill as a player, not his ability at any particular position. Over the course of the next few months we’ll see just how capable Belichick is and with any luck, Tebow will show that he’s a better player than most give him credit for.