Let the fun begin. Tim Tebow is going to be a New England Patriot.
The world stopped for a few minutes on Monday when it was reported by Ed Werder of ESPN that the Patriots were expected to sign the former Denver Broncos and New York Jets quarterback in time for Tuesday’s mandatory minicamp.
The signing was made official by New England on Tuesday morning, according to a press release on the Patriots’ official website. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the contract is for two years and that none of the money will be guaranteed.
Tim Tebow signed a two-year contract with the Patriots that included no guaranteed money.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 11, 2013
The move was not really expected considering the circus that constantly follows Tebow around and that head coach Bill Belichick runs a tight ship in New England. It was an intriguing decision since Belichick said that he “hates” Tebow as a player, according to Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports. He clearly must have had a change of heart.
Adding Tebow to the roster opens up a ton of opportunities and questions that will hopefully be answered before the season starts. For one, where is Tebow going to play and how often will he actually be on the field? He was a starter in Denver, but rode the bench for most of his one and only season in New York.
If Tebow is going to play quarterback, will the Patriots keep three signal-callers on the active roster or will Ryan Mallet be on his way out? The Browns were rumored to be interested in Mallet, according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer, but that was before the NFL draft. New England has kept three QBs in the past, but will the Pats do it in 2013?
There’s also the chance that Tebow fails to impress Belichick and the coaching staff during minicamp and throughout the preseason and fails to make the team. All we can do now, though, is watch what happens and speculate what the future holds for the former Heisman Trophy winner. So, let’s take a look at what may be in store for Tebow with New England in 2013.
What Will Tebow’s Role Be?
Conflicting reports about Tebow's role suggest it’s still up for debate as to how the Patriots are going to use Tebow—if at all—but many would likely agree that he’ll likely be used in a hybrid role. B/R NFL Lead Writer Michael Schottey seems to be on board with that statement:
I've said it since he left DEN, if ANYONE is going to convince Tebow to buy in to hybrid role & actually use him correctly, it's Belichick.— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) June 11, 2013
Tebow has really only been used as a quarterback throughout his professional career. While he’s been good with his legs, he hasn’t really been a running back or a fullback. He hasn’t been tested at wide receiver or tight end either. So does that mean that he’ll just play quarterback?
ESPN Boston’s Field Yates wrote Monday about how Tebow will fit in New England’s offense and decided on three potential roles (Insider subscription required). Yates believes that Tebow will either be a goal-line, short-yardage runner, a part of an option attack or at another position—maybe on special teams. All of those are possibilities.
As noted above, though, there have been conflicting reports regarding Tebow’s role. ESPN’s Ed Werder reports that Tebow is only going to be a quarterback:
Adam Schefter had the same thing to say:
Patriots did not sign Tim Tebow to play RB nor TE. They signed him to play QB. Backup QB. Tom Brady will not lose a play.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 11, 2013
Mike Freeman of CBS Sports reports that Tebow will be more than just a quarterback.
Keep in mind--Tebow won't exclusively study TE. But he's also not just going to study QB.— mike freeman (@realfreemancbs) June 10, 2013
So, whom should we believe?
There’s probably a better chance that Belichick uses him in every way possible. The Patriots haven’t been a team that uses a bunch of trickery in recent memory, and I doubt that Tebow takes many snaps at quarterback throughout the season.
Belichick is going to look to take advantage of every opportunity to flaunt a weakness in the defense, even if that means putting Tebow at a position where he doesn’t have much experience. That’s why there will likely be times when Tebow is in the backfield or on the line as a tight end. He could see time on special teams as well.
While Werder was the one that broke the news on New England signing Tebow, it’s still a little premature to say with certainty that he’s strictly going to be a quarterback. The Patriots will see what he’s capable of and we probably won’t know where he’ll be playing the most until an actual game is played. But I’d still expect a hybrid role.
What Will Tebow’s Stats Look Like?
Assuming that Tebow does end up playing a hybrid role in 2013 with New England, let’s take a look at what his statistics might look like at season’s end. For one, I don’t think that Tebow is going to see a ton of playing time, but he will be on the field much more often than he was while with the Jets last year.
As a QB: 21-of-48, 151 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Everyone knows that Tebow isn’t the best quarterback in the world. He doesn’t have good mechanics and is probably better off learning a new position. He got by as a quarterback in college, but in the pros, it just isn’t going to happen.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Tebow won’t line up under center a few times throughout the season, though. The Patriots don’t really stray away from Brady very often. Last year, Brady took 99.4 percent of the snaps under center; Mallet attempted just four passes all season. But Tebow is a different type of player than Mallet.
Mallet is a more conventional quarterback whereas if Tebow is lined up at quarterback, the defense probably isn’t going to know what’s happening. Is he going to drop back to throw? Is he going to take off running? Is it going to be an option play?
As a RB: 41 carries, 137 yards, 4 TD, 1 fumble
Tebow will likely be off and running for most of the season, in my opinion. Whether he’s on the field as the quarterback or behind Brady at running back or fullback, expect to see him carrying the ball often. He gives the Patriots another dynamic on offense, and deception will be key for New England.
Tebow isn't going to be the running back or fullback on many plays. Most of his carries will come on designed run plays where he’s lined up as the quarterback. The remaining carries will likely come in the red zone and close to the goal line. That’s why I have him scoring so many touchdowns; those will be three- and four-yard runs.
As a WR/TE: 2 receptions, 19 yards, 0 TD, 3 drops
Using Tebow as a wideout seems like the least likely to me. Unless he develops into someone that Brady is going to feel comfortable throwing to throughout the year then he isn’t going to see much action. The Patriots might just throw him out there as a decoy too, though.
There will be a handful of times where Brady does throw the ball in Tebow’s direction. He will, however, have trouble making the play and I don’t think he’s going to be catching many passes. He’ll probably catch about half the passes that Brady throws his way. Expect to see a couple of drops throughout 2013.