by Michael Stewart
Well there goes Monday being a slow news day. Tim Tebow, who has floated around in free agent hell for the past few months, has finally found a team willing to take him on and it's a slight shocker that the New England Patriots that are the ones stepping up and paying the bill. Here's what I wrote on April 29th:
"The Patriots love to mix things up on offence and could use Tebow in any number of ways as a fullback, tight end or in a package of speciality plays. If there's any franchise that could handle the media barnstorm that arrives with Tebow, it's the Patriots."
The original bet was that Tebow had a -110 chance of playing in the AFC or NFC, and I suggested that the Patriots were the best take other than him going to the CFL, Arena League or the Lingerie Football League (eat your heart out, ladies). Now that it's come true, how does it affect the landscape if at all?
I think you might be surprised because the Tebow signing may (or may not) be a direct reaction to another superstar in this league and how he may (or may not) be able to perform at the levels we expect him to.Patriots at +700 To 2014 Win Super Bowl
Let me get the betting stuff out of the way so my bosses don't tase me to death. That's the best number coming out of the AFC outside of Denver's identical +700 odds to win Super Bowl XLVIII. That was a good bet before the Tebow signing, and if this shakes out the way I think it might, it may be an even stronger play. Time will tell. That's why we call them "futures".The Media Rush
I think Tebow has been unfairly murdered in media circles. While he generates a fair bit of press just by existing, it certainly dones't help that every writer (including myself) loves to create stories and leverage opinions about him. This is all part of the parcel when you become a celebrity. But if there's any team that's ready to take on the media circus that Tebow inevitably brings with him, it's New England.
They already have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, who play the media as well as anyone does in the modern era. As long as those two are in the building, the media attention on the Patriots will always be fierce but it will also be primarily focused on them. The arrival of Tebow won't change that. It might give the press some new questions to ask, but Tebow is already joining a well-oiled, winning machine that can exist without him as it has before. People will be ready to ask Tebow questions, but it won't cause the maelstrom that other teams (like Jacksonville or Chicago) would have suffered.What Quarterback Controversy?Tebow has created controversy at the quarterback position mostly because of the guys ahead of him on previous depth charts. When playing with the Denver Broncos, he got the start because Kyle Orton slumped, and it worked (albeit for a variety of reasons including Von Miller and the defence). On the Jets last year, there was a strong argument that Rex Ryan should've rolled the dice considering how awful Sanchez performed. With the Patriots and Brady, there's absolutely no question who should be starting regardless of performance. And when the Patriots are winning, there's going to be no "what's the plan for Tebow" nonsense because he's there to back up Brady and that's it.
Well...unless Belichick uses him the way I hope he does.The Gronkowski Effect
The Patriots' star tight end has undergone 8,471 surgeries this offseason to fix problems with his broken forearm and nagging back. In three seasons, Gronk has amassed a whopping 38 touchdowns and is a force of nature when he's even remotely healthy. With all of those surgeries (ok, it was actually four) the Big Douche, as I like to call him, might not be as effective as the Patriots need him to be.
They still have Aaron Hernandez, but we all know that New England was at its best when both of their stud tight ends were on the field. People have long suggested that Tebow is more suited to play tight end of fullback given his size, speed and toughness. That's why Tebow landing in New England is so interesting, especially considering the question mark on Gronkowski's health.
Belichick hasn't been shy about drawing up a bag of tricks to unleash and surprise his opponents. They use Hernandez in all sorts of ways at running back, blocker and receiver. Danny Woodhead and even Doug Floutie were used in similar, off-beat formations and plays. Now there should be some trepidation here because:1) We've never seen Tebow catch a pass
2) We've never seen him block
Still, he's a phenomenal athlete who can learn how to do these things. Winning blocking battles against linebackers and defensive ends isn't going to be easy if Tebow is shifted to tight end, but when he has the ball in his hands we know he can advance the chains. That's how he's made his impact on the field the majority of the time. Lining up Tebow at running back, or at tight end, is totally feasible in a Belichick style offense and though I doubt that he can last a full game doing all the things he's supposed to do at those positions, I'm positive that he's athletic and resilient enough to last the 6 or 10 plays when the Patriots will use him.
This is all based on the idea that the Patriots shift him to tight-end, which they might not. The only reason I'm spending any time on this is because I find the timing of the signing interesting when it's coming at the tail-end of Gronkowksi's marathon of surgeries.Josh McDaniels Is So Fist Pumping Right Now, Bro
Talk about a bromance. McDaniels drafted Tebow and may have lost his job in Denver because of him as well. McDaniels was in St. Louis by the time the 2011 campaign started, which is the year that Tebow went off as a starter after supplanting the aforementioned Kyle Orton. Poor McDaniels never got to see his favorite draft pick play on a consistent basis and now that the two are reunited in New England, they'll finally get to live the dream.The Next Chapter For Tebow
All of the talking heads that slam Tebow for his lack of quarterbacking ability are correct in doing so, but the malice in their tone is unnecessary. This is a vigilant community contributor and overall nice guy. Maybe Tebow was never meant to be a quarterback, but the only reason he ever lost his job was because the Broncos got their hands on Peyton Manning. Faulting Tebow for never rising up with the Jets is like saying a butterfly is responsible for a hurricane on the other side of the world. The Jets were a blithering mess in 2012. That was because Sanchez sucked, Santonio Holmes and Revis got hurt and Rex Ryan is a moron. It wasn't because of Tebow.
I personally think Tebow is a terrible quarterback, but I also think he's a unique talent. When he was drafted, I said "I'll wait three years" which is pretty much how I react to any quarterback. Kaepernick could be a total bust in 2013. Josh Freeman has certainly looked like one after such a promising start. With this position, you simply never know.
It's been three years since Tebow was drafted and I'm not even sure if last year really counts for anything in his evolution. It should say something that he never got to start at quarterback, but I think that also says much more about the Ryan-Sanchez romance than anything else.
Generally I have agreed that Tebow is a below average quarterback, but the weird debate point that makes him different is that winning streak he went on with the Broncos. I mean, winning games is what counts right? You don't have to be a great quarterback to win a Super Bowl (just ask Tren Dilfer and Brad Johnson). But I understand there is a common, underlying sentiment that he's not an NFL-caliber passer.
There's no question that he's an NFL-caliber player. Sometimes you just need to be on the right team, with the right coach in the right circumstances. If Tebow is used in a speciality package like I hope he is, we can finally address all the "he should be a tight end" talk. There is no better place for Tebow to be than New England.
Don't blame Tebow if you're sick of hearing about him. Blame the media and guys like me. We can't help ourselves. But give Tebow another chance. I mean if Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress and Pacman Jones deserve a chance at football redemption, why doesn't a guy like Tebow?