The New England Patriots have experienced one of the most tumultuous offseasons in the history of the NFL. Aaron Hernandez is dealing with unspeakable legal issues, Rob Gronkowski underwent back surgery and their leading receiver, Wes Welker, is now with the Denver Broncos.
With their receiving corps depleted, Tim Tebow will become the X-Factor for New England's offense.
According to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, Tebow has not yet been informed of what his role will be in New England's preseason opener. With that being said, the words he received from head coach Bill Belichick offer insight into how he will be used during the regular season.
"I don't know, it's not something we've really talked about," Tebow said. He added that Belichick told him, "Just be ready when your number is called."
"I feel like I'm getting better every single day," he said. "More comfortable with the offense, better timing with everybody around me, better understanding of what the coaches want me to do and with the offense, with the reads, with the timing."
"So it's just every day trying to get a little bit better, and it sounds cliché, but it's true. That's really what I'm focused on, and I know it's something that hopefully I've been able to accomplish."
Don't confuse the misguided love and hatred Tebow receives with legitimate facts.
Wide Receiver Woes
The Patriots are preparing to enter the 2013 NFL regular season with some combination of Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Michael Jenkins as their most proven receivers. Rookies Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson have promise, but that's a dangerous thing to deal with.
If Gronkowski fails to return for Week 1, Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells, rookie Brandon Ford and Michael Hoomanawanui will be the best options at tight end. To put it simply, Tom Brady's options are beyond limited when it comes to whom he can throw to.
That places quite the heavy burden on his accuracy, the run game and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' creativity.
The final two points are the keys here, as the Patriots will need to draw up plays that display their versatility. With Edelman, Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen returning, that's nothing short of possible.
In that same breath, we'd be naive to ignore the importance of the loss of Hernandez, Welker and Danny Woodhead.
Tebow is a lot of things, but an elite passer certainly isn't one of them. Tebow is, however, a dynamic player that can attack a defense in a variety of ways.
Something tells us the Patriots will need his contributions at some point this season.
This isn't to say that New England will draw up Wildcat formations or even take Brady off of the field. What it does acknowledge, however, is that Tebow has a place within the Patriots offense, as they truly have nothing to lose from putting him on the field.
And McDaniels is the perfect coach to make that work.
In what capacity will Tim Tebow be used in 2013?
McDaniels was the head coach of the Broncos when Tebow broke out during the 2011 regular season. His passing may have been close to atrocious, but he did run for 660 yards, six touchdowns and 35 first downs in 14 games played.
Ridley was the only Patriot who ran for more than four touchdowns in 2012.
Adding Tebow to the mix—whether at quarterback, running back or tight end—would offer a sense of versatility that few players can offer. From his ability to throw passes in limited situations, run for positive yardage and even catch balls for short yardage, he could be an Antwaan Randle El-type of player.
He was a player who helped the Pittsburgh Steelers win a Super Bowl when their receiving corps was about as weak as New England's is now.
There's no guaranteeing that Tebow works out in New England, but at this point, every offensive player not named Brady has a question mark. Amendola and Gronkowski struggle with injuries, Edelman has a career-high of 37 receptions and the rest of the offense is either inexperienced or unreliable.
Leaving a player who can do a bit of everything on the bench would be a waste. Using Tebow would make not only open up the offense, but give New England a chance at overcoming their devastating losses.