Of all the stories surrounding the New England Patriots since their loss in the AFC Championship Game, the team’s signing of Tim Tebow may have been the strangest. After a year of nothing while a member of the New York Jets, Tebow’s prospects in the NFL seemed almost non-existent. But never underestimate the willingness of an NFL team to take a shot on someone, and never underestimate the desire of the Patriots to sign players recently released by the Jets.
The Patriots have been known over the years under coach Bill Belichick to be a team that has had great success with reclamation projects and getting more out of players than they actually had to give. Tebow would fall under the “getting more out of…” category as his passing mechanics have never come close to being that of a quality NFL quarterback. He now needs some of that magic that used to go with being a recent acquisition of the Patriots.
Despite the more recent miserable failures at reclamation projects, the Patriots’ locker room is still possibly the best place for a guy like Tebow to be right now. The problems associated with the Patriots in recent years have all been off of the playing field. It would seem that once the players get into the locker room, there are few teams as good at keeping their players in line than the Patriots. With so many stories during every season about teams having issues with locker room leadership, a player or players having issues with the coach or a coordinator, players not taking things seriously enough, etc., the Patriots have not been a team that makes that kind of news.
This ties in with Tebow because Tebow is one of those rare cases of an athlete who not only believes in the “one for all and all for one” mentality that goes with forming a team, he has personified it better than most football players in recent memory. With Tebow, his dedication to the team goes unquestioned because he’s shown it at the college and pro levels, and because he has never come off as less than genuine in this area. If nothing else, this is the kind of environment that brings out the best in Tebow, and whatever that may be now, Tebow needs to tap into it if he is to have any chance at making the team.
The ace in the hole for those still on board with the Patriots’ move to bring in Tebow is the presence of Josh McDaniels, the Patriots’ offensive coordinator. You will recall that McDaniels was with the Patriots as offensive coordinator, became head coach of the Denver Broncos, drafted Tebow and took a ton of heat for it at the time, was fired as head coach and eventually returned to the Patriots working under Belichick once again. Tebow got his start in the NFL under McDaniels and most importantly, McDaniels is the one who believes in Tebow more than anyone ever has in the NFL, evident by when McDaniels drafted Tebow & their brief coach/player relationship and that McDaniels must have been one of the voices that made the Patriots picking Tebow up seem like a worthwhile idea.
Finally, to ease all the Tebow haters who are thinking of hating on me for even thinking Tebow and the Patriots could mix, just remember two key things about this experiment: there’s no guaranteed money for Tebow and for all we know, he won’t even make the final roster before the regular season. All I’ve been expressing is that there are reasons to believe that if Tebow were to remain on the team this season, that it could be a good experience for him.
Even if Tebow is still around during the season, there’s virtually no chance that he will be on the field when Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett would have to be injured or otherwise unable to play for Tebow to get the shot. Some may think of the possibility that Tebow could pass Mallett to become the Patriots’ number two quarterback when September comes around. I don’t see that happening.
It will be interesting to see how this experiment turns out because how it goes will determine whether or not Tebow has a future in the NFL. It could be a quick and voiceless episode in Tebow’s NFL saga, it could end up as tabloid-like as last season in New York, it could end with Tebow actually earning his way onto the team and getting onto the field at some point, or it could end up any number of ways. We must be patient. I know that can be hard (for whatever reason) when it comes to Tebow, but we’re just going to have to wait and see if there ends up being anything real to this. It’s literally all we can do.