Tim Tebow as Running Quarterback a Smart Risk for Bill Belichick

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 09:  Tim Tebow #5 of the New England Patriots passes the ball in the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles on August 9, 2013 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

What you see is what you get with Tim Tebow. Consequently, what New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has on his hands with Tebow is a player who cannot adequately throw the ball, but one who can make plays with his feet. 

Belichick took a risk in more ways than one by bringing in Tebow and the subsequent flock of Tebowmania that pursues him around the country. 

That risk has been personified not only by the plethora of media presence at Patriots training camp, but also by Tebow's horrific performance in Week 1 of the preseason against Philadelphia. Tebow showed his lack of ability by completing just four of his 12 attempts for 55 yards and tallying a 49 quarterback rating. 

The stat line is bad, but those never tell the whole story. Allow this video of yet another Tebow worm-burner from Week 1 to do the talking.

Yet Belichick knew this was coming. In fact, the man often credited as a mad genius in the world of football sounds as if he was more than prepared for what Tebow brings to the table—and what he doesn't. 

Belichick told Boston radio station WEEI (h/t ESPN) that Tebow presents his ups and downs like any other NFL player:

The decisions that you make are important there; you don't want to waste a lot of time on something that doesn't benefit you...At the same time, you want to try to be prepared for, and take advantage of, some of the players' skills that you have. I don't think it's uncommon. We've had those types of things in our offense before. This is a little bit different, but we're not trying to reinvent the game or anything...

Belichick also compared Tebow to former Patriots backup Matt Cassel in the interview. If you'll recall, Cassel spent four seasons in New England, the last of which saw him appear in 16 games in 2008 while passing for 3,693 yards and 21 touchdowns while completing over 63 percent of his passes and adding another 271 yards rushing. The Patriots won 11 games with Cassel steering the ship. 

What's interesting is that Cassel has never been widely heralded as a running quarterback, but you can see the physical similarities between the two, with Cassel coming in at 6'4" and 230 pounds while is Tebow 6'3" and 236 pounds. 

The differences, obviously, are in their passing games. Tebow has never completed over 50 percent of his passes in a season when putting up over 40 attempts and he has never broken the 2,000-yard mark. 

What it comes down to is simple—Belichick loves his backups. He loved the skill set that Cassel brought to the table and kept him in town as long as he could. That happened to be just long enough to almost guide the team to a playoff berth in Tom Brady's absence. 

Belichick tailored things to Cassel's particular set of skills when the worst-case scenario happened and that is what he is prepared to do with Tebow on the chance that something happens with him as well. 

Look at it this way: How many teams can you claim would remain competitive in today's NFL when down to their No. 3 quarterback option on the depth chart?

The correct answer is "none", because most teams don't even carry three quarterbacks anymore, let alone even have a quality No. 2 option on the roster. 

The exception is New England, thanks to the presence of Tebow. 

That's precisely what is going through Belichick's mind at this moment. Were the worst-case scenario to occur with both Brady and backup Ryan Mallet suffering injuries, Belichick could implement a version of the read-option—similar to what Denver ran in 2011 when Tebow lifted the Broncos into the postseason—and the Patriots would still be a competitive team. 

Would it be a traditional offensive system where Tebow would be asked to drop back, progress through his reads and make accurate throws? Absolutely not. As Belichick confirmed in his interview with WEEI. The offense would be built around Tebow:

Tim has had a lot of experience making those decisions -- whether to give the ball to the back or keep it, or pitch it, all those kinds of things. It's not really like we're trying to teach him those things. He's done it a lot. He has to refine the timing and so forth, but it creates just another thing to put pressure on the defense.

By all accounts, Tebow is continuing to improve in training camp, even as a passer. But as you can see, that's not why Tebow is in town. You won't see packages where Brady is ever asked to leave the field so Tebow can run. 

Belichick's willingness to take on Tebowmania is yet another smart move, and really, if he wanted a chance to remain competitive with a versatile emergency quarterback, is there actually that big of a difference between a guy like Tebow and say, Vince Young? 

The correct answer is "no". There's more media coverage with Tebow, but there's also a better locker room presence and role model on a Patriots team that has recently been starring in the spotlight of certain legal matters

Tebow is a safe risk for Belichick. If there's one man in the NFL who can get the most out of Tebow, it's Belichick. 


Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling