NEPD Editor: James Christensen
The unthinkable or inevitable – depending on which side of the aisle you’re sitting on in the Church of Tebow – has happened. Bill Belichick and Tim Tebow, two of the most polarizing figures in all of the NFL, are finally together. Somewhere Urban Meyer is smiling.
What should Patriots fans expect out of Tebow this season?
According to initial reports, the Patriots seem to be looking at Tebow as a tight end – although Chris Mortensen said he will study as third-string QB. As I’ve really never seen him block – I’m not sure how many people have – I can’t imagine him playing the “Y” position currently inhabited by Rob Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui. That’s not saying that he can’t do it. He certainly has the strength, but blocking techniques and assignments aren’t learned overnight – they take time.
As a “F” or “Move” tight end, however, Tebow makes a lot of sense. He can motion into the backfield and either be a decoy or a ball-carrier. The screen game should also be something that he can do out of the box.
With all that in mind, the biggest challenge to Tebow seeing the field as a TE / H-Back is going to be his blocking – both inline and in the backfield while in pass protection. Dante Scarnecchia – Patriots line coach – will have his work cut out for him.
Barring a litany of injuries, Tim Tebow is not going to be the starting quarterback for the Patriots. Tom Brady and his heir apparent Ryan Mallett have that position locked up. What Tebow really brings to the table is roster flexibility.
Recently, Bill Belichick hasn’t deemed it worthy to keep three quarterbacks on the active roster, and I don’t see that happening this year either. Having Tebow as a 3rd, 4th or even 5th tight end gives you a built-in third quarterback that can come in and not completely screw things up if disaster strikes. Troy Brown got reps at quarterback during his time in Foxboro in case of emergency – Tebow could siphon off a few himself.
One point that will be debated endlessly until the start of the 2013 NFL Season is if Tebow will see snaps at quarterback in short-yardage situations. Personally, I think it unwise to take Tom Brady off the field barring a huge lead. Belichick and Josh McDaniels – Tebow’s former coach and the man who drafted him in the first round – may have different plans. Both coaches look for every possible advantage in every possible situation. If they see a small role for Tebow under center, they’ll exploit it to its fullest potential.
Few coaches preach Special Teams more than Bill Belichick. Players that can contribute in that phase of the game are very important to a roster. People scoffed at Tebow’s “personal protector” role with the Jets last year, but I doubt Belichick did.
If Belichick feels that he can steal a possession or two by utilizing Tebow on his punt team, that is just one more mark in Tebow’s column. Just the threat of Tebow back there will limit what punt return teams try – another small advantage.
Belichick hasn’t hesitated putting receivers and running backs on the kickoff team either – we’ve long seen Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman and more recently Brandon Bolden laying the wood on kickoffs. I wouldn’t be shocked seeing Tebow out there as well.
One player, multiple potential roles. Punt protector, backup quarterback, tight end, h-back… all wrapped up in one 6-3/240 package.
The Patriots have a log jam at multiple positions (WR, RB, DL, CB…), having one player fill so many roles could allow New England to keep an extra player or two on their roster that would otherwise be given to a far more specialized player.
Another little advantage in a game decided by them.