By: Ian Logue
Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow will be among the names discussed as the team makes their final roster cuts in the coming days, and there’s no denying that he’s one of the more polarizing players who has made their way through this region during the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era.
When the team brought him in this offseason there were plenty of questions about how he would be used in this offense or what role he would play, whether it was as a quarterback, an H-back, a tight end, receiver, no one really knew. After seeing him during practices at training camp and two preseason games, Tebow’s been a quarterback, and it probably hasn’t quite gone the way he hoped.
He’s had two mixed performances, with the second one happening on the home field in front of a crowd that saw him go 1-of-7 for -1 yards along with an interception. However, through it all the smile has stayed on his face and he’s remained inexplicably positive, a trait that an average person would love to have and a determination that you have to admire.
How the next chapter plays out remains to be seen. He’ll either make the team or the Patriots will cut their losses and thank him for his service before sending him back to NFL free agency. Either way it’s going to be an interesting decision, and here are some pros and cons weighing the outcome:
It’s been a rocky preseason for Tebow, and it’s going to be tough for him to stick around.
(FILE:USA TODAY IMAGES)
He’s athletic and causes problems in the open field: One thing that has stood out about Tebow is the fact he’s so strong and he’s not an easy guy to tackle. That’s a trait that Belichick mentioned about him before their first match-up two seasons ago, but so far while they used him in the read option in his first game, they didn’t use him that way the second time. However, from what little we’ve seen, it’s possible that in the right situation his legs could make up for his lack of accuracy in the passing game.
It might be a tougher transition that many think: He’s working in an offense that’s built around Tom Brady, which relies on timing, tempo, precise route-running, as well as timing. We haven’t seen Tebow catching passes or running the ball in New England’s normal offense, and unless this is something that’s top secret that they’re working toward it doesn’t appear that he’ll be in a situation that utilizes his running ability. That appears to be his biggest – and only – asset right now.
He’s got a good arm: Tebow is big, he’s strong, and he’s done a good job throwing the deep ball in practice, something that media members mentioned on numerous occasions during training camp. That arm won him a playoff game two years ago on a deep throw in overtime and it’s helped him catch the eyes of fans who were hoping to see some big plays from the former Florida standout.
He’s not accurate: Watching him overthrow and underthrow receivers on short and intermediate paasses during training camp was maddening, and it was even worse two weeks ago when he couldn’t complete a pass and threw an interception in his own end against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Before his team took on the Broncos against Tebow for the first time during the regular season in 2011, Belichick praised Tebow’s accuracy. At the time Belichick said, “I think his passing is good. It was good in college; he was a very productive passer in college and he’s thrown the ball well in this league. Throws it good short, throws it intermediate, can throw it deep. He’s got some very good throws, as good as anybody that you want to put in there. ” Makes you wonder if he still feels the same way.
He’s got good instincts: Watch him run the ball and you’ll see he does a good job avoiding tacklers and finds a way to wiggle and battle for extra yardage. He does well reacting to what’s happening right in front of him and that’s why he’s been somewhat effective running the football this preseason.
He can’t quickly react to what’s happening down the field: If you followed his progress during training camp, a lot of Tebow’s plays lasted 10-12 seconds before he was able to finally make a read and complete the throw. He’s had the same issue in live game action and it’s been one of the more frustrating parts of his game. He had a tough time in game one and an even tougher one in game two. After sitting out last week you have to wonder if he can turn it around, or if he’ll even get an opportunity after being kept as a spectator last Thursday night against the Lions.
He’s a great locker room guy: One thing you can’t deny is the fact Tebow is a good guy and a team player. As we’ve heard repeatedly, you can never have too many of those. That makes him – if nothing else – a good asset to hold onto in the locker room and he even got an endorsement from Robert Kraft this week because of it.
They don’t play football in the locker room: Being a good locker room guy is one thing, but Tebow needs to also prove he’s a valuable asset who can contribute something on the field. As we’re going to see in these final days, some guys are going to be cut under difficult circumstances where the numbers got in the way. Letting go of another player who could potentially contribute and be productive in the event of an unforeseen injury is going to be tough to agree with, especially for a guy who has limited value at this stage of his career. This team is a perennial championship contender, and Tebow still has some work ahead of him to play at the level they need him to be at. He’s just a victim of being on a team full of good players, and there’s not enough room to let him tag along in lieu of letting one of them go.
Unfortunately it would be tough to think Tebow is going to make this roster. Reading between the lines Belichick is known for releasing veteran players he’s not planning on keeping early out of respect to give them an opportunity to catch on else where. So the fact Tebow is still here could lead you to believe they’re going to keep him. However, given the lack of interest this offseason, it’s also fair to say that he’s willing to let him sink or swim Thursday night since he may not garner any interest anyway. Not only that, but playing well enough could also allow him to potentially play his way onto someone else’s roster.
He’s a good guy, there’s no denying that. But as a player the train in New England moves along too fast to wait for someone like him to develop. That’s not to say he couldn’t be cut and then brought back later on as needed, but as a quarterback alone he’s just not there yet. As we’ve seen in recent years depth has become more and more important and one player can potentially make all the difference in the world. Unfortunately at this stage of his career, Tebow just isn’t that guy yet. Hopefully for his sake this has been a good learning experience and he’ll eventually get there. But unless he goes out and has the game of his life against the Giants, at this point it’s difficult to believe he’s done enough to survive this weeks final cutdown.