Take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to, say, two months ago.
Back when Tim Tebow was the top story in football. When "Tebowing" was a raging sensation. When people who had never watched a football game in their lives still had a staunch opinion about the Denver Broncos quarterback.
Check that. Soon-to-be former Broncos quarterback. Because the fan favorite, media sensation and improbably consistent winner from a season ago wasn't immune to the harsh rule of the NFL: when a better player, say, a future Hall of Famer, walks into town, you get the boot.
All that fanfare from last season? Tough. The new guy's here, and he's kicking you out.
Who does Peyton Manning think he is? Peyton Manning or something?
Well, that's exactly who is taking over in Denver, and the shocking reported signing means that Tebow will be on the move. And the team with arguably the NFL's most stable quarterback situation should be the team looking to pick him up.
The New England Patriots should bring Tebow to Foxborough.
It's a perfect fit—a match years in the making. The man who brought Tebow into the league, and who, to this day has the most faith in him, is in New England. Josh McDaniels is back for a second stint with the Patriots, and he's the one who looked beyond the awkward throwing motion that had coaches, scouts and fans around the league laughing.
He saw the athleticism mixed with unparalleled heart and drive and thought about what Tebow could do, instead of what he couldn't.
And Tebow showed that he had the ability to do everything McDaniels believed he could. He won games he seemingly had no business winning. He led drives he seemingly had no business leading.
Last year, Tebow was a rarity—the player with raw, underdeveloped skills that succeeded in a league that pounds the will out of players with raw, underdeveloped skills.
Tebow showed a package of intangibles last season that would make him an ideal fit with the Patriots. He's tough. He's fiery. He brushes off mistakes. He's unflappable in the clutch. He's got a mentality tailor-made for the high-pressure stage New England aims for every single season.
The Patriots have a guide for their ideal quarterback, which is outlined in Michael Holley's book Patriot Reign. The author cites New England's list of desired traits as "(being) the mentally toughest and hardest-working player on the team", "(being) able to take a big hit" and "(having) his head screwed on...to handle the pressure and scrutiny to which all NFL QBs are subjected."
That perfectly describes Tom Brady. It just as appropriately describes Tebow.
But...he can't throw. Not consistently, anyway. A week after tearing apart the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers' secondary in the wild card round of the playoffs, he was shut down by the sieve-like Patriots defense in the divisional round.
He needs to get better, there's no question.
But he can do that in New England. He'd be behind the game's best quarterback in Brady and be coached along by the McDaniels/Bill Belichick combination that helped Brady become the league's most prolific passer and assisted Matt Cassel in becoming a quality NFL starter.
You don't think Tebow would improve with that kind of support?
Though Tebow would never usurp Brady for the starting quarterback position, he could still offer value to the team immediately. What is sometimes lost in the criticism of Tebow's arm is the fact that he is an elite athlete. The guy can play, and his skill as a runner would give him plenty of opportunity to help the Patriots offense from the get-go.
And in the long run?
A quarterback with the perfect mindset for the position steadily improves under the watch of two of the league's top coaches and coordinators and eases the transition when Brady eventually retires. At worst, he's an excellent backup. At best, he's the winning quarterback he's already shown he's on the way to becoming.
Either way, you get a special player whose intensity lifts everyone else on the team. That's a trite cliche with most players, but it's true with Tebow. After last year, that can't be denied.
Now, the Patriots shouldn't spend wildly on the lame duck quarterback. A team like Jacksonville is the perfect candidate to jump on Tebow's availability and offer far more than the Broncos are expecting. If the Patriots are competing against a high draft pick, they should fold and walk away from the table.
But if Tebow's being given away? The Patriots should be interested. Very interested.
John Fox and John Elway did all they could to end the Tebow era in Denver. They finally succeeded. They never bought in.
The Patriots should show a little more faith.
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