The first day of Tim Tebow’s best and possibly last chance at remaining in the NFL begins today, when he reports for duty with the New England Patriots.
It’s the latest in a series of player experiments for mad scientist/coach Bill Belichick, who has found ways to use Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco Johnson effectively and managed to avoid blowing up the lab with Albert Haynesworth.
“This is a perfect fit,” former Denver Broncos safety Brian Dawkins told USA Today’s Lindsay H. Jones. “If it doesn’t work this time, I don’t see anyone else that will give him a chance.”
Tebow is expected to be on the field for the Patriots’ minicamp at Gillette Stadium today, but this time he’ll be greeted with far less fanfare than he received when he joined the New York Jets in the spring of 2012. There’ll be no massive press conference, no billboards announcing his arrival. This time, it’s just football as the Patriots begin to find out if there’s a role for Tebow. ESPN reports that he’ll get a shot at quarterback, the position he wants to play.
There was match-making involving several prospective teams after he was cut by the Jets on April 29, with the Patriots always in that mix because of Belichick’s friendship with Urban Meyer, Tebow’s college coach, and the presence of Josh McDaniels as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator. McDaniels was head coach in Denver until being fired in December 2010.
Under McDaniels, Tebow took mostly change-of-pace snaps behind starter Kyle Orton and was used in short-yardage or red-zone plays.
“He needed to go somewhere where he can work on what he needs to work on behind closed doors, and to do it with someone who believes in him,” Dawkins told Jones. “Josh believes in him.”
Belichick has had a chance to watch Tebow at the height of his powers. Tebow started two games against the Patriots, a 41-23 regular-season loss in December 2011 and a 45-10 playoff loss just weeks later. In those games, Tebow completed 41.7 percent of his passes (20-of-48) for 330 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. He rushed 17 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns. However he ran only five times for 13 yards in the playoff loss.
Whatever Belichick’s reasons for signing Tebow and no matter how closed-down the Patriots organization is, there won’t be an absence of drama. For openers, there’s the mere fact that Tebow’s grasp on an NFL roster spot is so tenuous and he has no chance at Orton-ing Tom Brady. A Tim-and-Tom show? Don’t hold your breath.
Chances are Belichick won’t reveal exactly what he was thinking in signing Tebow. Last month, Yahoo’s Mike Silver reported that Belichick “hates Tebow as a player,” but on Friday, Belichick refuted that. “Every single player has strengths and weaknesses,” he told ESPN Boston, “but regardless of that, for anyone to have represented that is the way I feel about Tim Tebow is completely untrue, baseless and irresponsible. It is unfortunate that something so inaccurate was reported.”
Around midmorning, Belichick will speak with reporters and, given that this is Belichick, will refuse to offer clarity. Until then, all that’s certain is that reaction to the signing was swift (Yahoo’s Doug Farrar thinks it might just work) and biting (Sports on Earth’s Mike Tanier has already filed a “Patriots Release Tebow” story for Aug. 31).
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) June 11, 2013
Tim Tebow is the Sarah Palin of football thebea.st/1bqeBaX
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) June 11, 2013
— Albert Gattullo (@algattullo) June 11, 2013
Maybe “Saturday Night Live” was onto something about 18 months ago, when Jason Sudeikis, as Jesus, told Tebow and the Broncos: “If I’m the son of God, Tom Brady’s got to be the guy’s nephew, all right? That guy’s a miracle worker. But Coach Belichick? Well, let’s just say [making devil’s horns] they’re coming at you both ways.”
H/T Deadspin for the gif
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Tim & Tom: Not ready for prime-time players