32 Questions in 32 Days: New England Patriots

Tim Tebow New England Patriots
Tim Tebow New England Patriots
Aug 9 2013 Philadelphia PA USA New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden 38 and New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow 5 and New England Patriots tight end Michael Hoomanawanui 47 line up for a play against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of a preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field The Patriots won 31 22 Joe Camporeale USA TODAY Sports

As we count down to the NFL season, Sports Jerks will be bringing you 32 questions in 32 days. Each day, we’ll feature one of the most important questions for a different NFL team heading into the opening weekend of the league.

Today’s feature team and question?

The New England Patriots – Will Tim Tebow’s addition be a mistake?

With Super Bowl hopes, the New England Patriots made a big offseason splash with the acquisition of Tim Tebow this year. Unlike his previous stop in New York, he clearly wasn’t brought in to create any degree of competition at quarterback. With future Hall of Famer Tom Brady at the helm, Tebow has about as much chance to line up under center as I do.

All the talk among fans has been about Tebow being brought in for another position, but the Patriots insist he’s a quarterback (for now, at least). Thus far, he’s struggled in camp and if New England is going to make this worth their while, he’s likely going to have to play another position or be utilized as a quarterback in very specific packages like a Wildcat or option.

Even as a backup quarterback, Tebow’s value isn’t truly known. The Patriots have third-round quarterback Ryan Mallett who has already been in the system for two seasons learning behind Brady. While Tebow has been forced into the limelight as a starter when it’s clear he has major deficiencies as a passer, Mallett has been carefully biding his time, taking notes behind one of the all-time greats. Despite not having the on-field successes that Tebow has enjoyed, he’s more experienced in Belichick’s system and as a third-round pick, came in with some expectations on his shoulders. If New England found themselves in the situation of needing to turn to their backup, there’s no guarantee that it’s Mallett holding the clipboard behind Tebow instead of vice-versa.

Frankly, the whole risk/reward thing with this move is a bit lost on me. Barring an injury to the Brady, Tebow’s usefulness really comes down to how he can be used as a receiver or on gimmick plays. Thing is, there are any number of guys in the NFL that can fill such a role without providing the distraction that is affixed to Tebow. Tebow has certainly attracted some of that attention on his own, but the distraction isn’t fully brought on by the quarterback’s own actions. The media’s love affair with trying to catch him in an uncompromising position or mentioning every time he breaks to say grace before a meal is a big part of it … and make no mistake – that will follow Tebow to New England. Fair or not, Tebow brings a media frenzy behind his every move.

As a quarterback, Tebow has vast limitations. We don’t fully know his capabilities as a receiver or elsewhere, but the biggest issue is that any benefit he brings to the team is likely a marginal one. Tebow isn’t going to come in and turn into a 1,000-yard receiver or running back overnight. He’s not going to so dramatically change the face of the Patriots’ offense that he would be the primary reason they get over the hump and reach another Super Bowl. The modest return Tebow provides isn’t really worth the headache he’ll bring to Belichick (who, by the way, is already a testy guy who doesn’t need his buttons pushed).

So will Tebow’s addition prove costly? Not exactly.

While Tebow may not bring much to the table, it’s hard to see him causing actual trouble. He’s not a malcontent, doesn’t get in trouble off the field, and generally known as a good teammate. Plus, if the aforementioned media attention turns from a distraction into a circus, look for Belichick to pull the plug on this little experiment rather quickly.

Whether or not Tebow can actually help the team is another question entirely. If he is able to, though, it’s likely not going to be as a traditional quarterback. The team needs to find creative ways for him to get onto the field and play in special packages conducive to his style. One significant role that he can play is one of a decoy. As soon as he comes off of the bench, defenders will be watching him closely. Tebow can play a valuable role simply by drawing attention to himself.

If Brady stays healthy, don’t expect Tebow to be a huge factor on the Patriots. Ultimately, though, he won’t be a problem child and could even contribute a little if Belichick utilizes him correctly.

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Anson Whaley
Anson Whaley is a freelance writer with more than 16 years of experience. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a current member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). Mr. Whaley has also been a credentialed member of the media for various events. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');