So there you have it, kids. A few days after Bill Belichick strongly came out against reports that he doesn’t like Tim Tebow, everyone’s favorite running back who sometimes throws an accurate pass is set to sign in New England, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder. He’ll do something behind Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett, while being reunited with Josh McDaniels. Something.
Look, I really do get it. McDaniels is in New England, and he’s obviously been a fan of this Tebow kid for quite some time now after he made the Heisman Trophy winner a first-round pick (25th overall) back in 2010 when he was the head coach in Denver.
That pick looked absurd at the time, and it remains a source of endless comedy. But whatever, it’s in the past now, along with many well-intentioned pass attempts that died far too soon after being spiked into the turf (rest in peace). What’s important now is that if Tebow has even a faint, reaching hope of being useful in some manner and making even a minor contribution with the only thing he does well (run, and be a hammer of a man with his athletic ability and body honed from many hours of rain running), New England is the place where that hope lives. Belichick is simply a mastermind, and McDaniels has experience with Tebow, so together maybe — oh, just maybe — they can succeed where the Jets and Tony Sparano failed.
Alright, so that’s the rosiest, most dreamy end of this signing. Tebow being used as a gimmick, and being used successfully. Great, but even if we pretend to live in that possible fantasy, where would he be used during his sparse appearances on the field?
Clearly the Patriots won’t ask Brady to substitute off periodically as the Jets did with Mark Sanchez, mostly because hahahahahahaha. And if Brady ever goes down, Mallett — a third-round pick in 2011 who’s been patiently groomed and developed by Belichick — is an infinitely better backup. Mallett is routinely the subject of trade speculation (back in April the Pats were reportedly seeking a second rounder for him), and he has two more years left on his rookie contract.
But Tebow certainly isn’t trustworthy enough to make Mallett expendable, and make the front office more willing to be aggressive to cash in on the current backup’s trade value. That’s especially true after an offseason in which they signed Danny Amendola to replace Wes Welker, and spent a second-round pick on Aaron Dobson. Throw in their famously imposing dual threat at tight end between Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and this is an offense heavily invested in throwing, and throwing a lot (Brady attempted 637 passes in 2012, fourth highest in the league).
A quarterback who can’t throw isn’t an ideal fit anywhere, so from that perspective — the one which tells us that quarterbacks should be able to do quarterback things — we realize that there’s no fit for Tebow in New England at his natural position. The barrels of fun and ingenuity from Belichick and McDaniels won’t change that.
So what now? A move to tight end, maybe and probably.
Tim Tebow will sign with New England, source confirms to me. Plan, I’m told, is Tebow will study a great deal at tight end.
— mike freeman (@realfreemancbs) June 10, 2013
Tebow has always had the build of a tight end or running back, and the lack of skill to be a quarterback. Sometimes, the best solution then is to admit failure, and start over. That’s where Denard Robinson has already succeeded in Jacksonville.
The former Michigan stud knew he had no future in the NFL as a quarterback, so throughout the draft process he embraced a position change, first trying his hand at wide receiver during the Senior Bowl before settling in at running back. Now he’s set to receive up to 15 touches per game as a running back, and he’ll also likely be featured in wildcat plays.
Robinson acknowledged his weakness, while Tebow and his handlers have been stubborn. That may change now, and Tebow’s chances of continuing his NFL career will change along with it. If he’s going to be a tight end, he should probably spend some extra time after practice catching balls. Like, say, maybe 19 hours. Straight.
But this can’t be emphasized enough, even though it’ll largely be ignored because Tebow: he’s not guaranteed a roster spot. He’ll be around for minicamp, and surely training camp too, and Tebow will have to fight for his spot just like anyone else. The signing cost the Patriots the equivalent of a box of Lucky Charms in NFL money, and his contract will have little or no guarantees. So if they’re not confident he can contribute in some small way during the regular season, he’ll be cut.
That’s the Patriot way. Cold, ruthless, and eager to bargain hunt for cheap upside. All hail Bill.