It has become impossible to defend Tim Tebow.
There was a time when the light bulb came on for New England Patriots fans everywhere. Tebow actually made a bit of sense in New England.
After all, he was reuniting with Josh McDaniels. He could learn from Tom Brady. Tebow would even rank among the best No. 3 quarterbacks in the NFL while also contributing on special teams.
Heck, Bill Belichick could turn Tebowmania into a non-story. Right?
Any shred of hope for Tebow's future in New England has all but shriveled up. Forget the versatility, learning experience, jersey sales—even forget the positive influence in the locker room. something the team could really use after a tumultuous offseason.
All of that is out the window.
Tebow threw for only 55 yards in his Patriots debut against Philadelphia in Week 1 of the preseason and added in a couple nice runs as well. Fine.
But what Tebow managed to do in Week 2 of the preseason against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is unforgivable.
Tebow put up an impressive stat line all right. He went 1-of-7 for negative-one yard and an interception. Quarterback rating? A resounding 0.0—but hey, he rushed for 30 yards. CBS' Will Brinson was documenting the epic night as it happened:
Of course, we don't want to jump to conclusions and look at the performance too narrowly. Head coach Bill Belichick is doing no such thing when asked by the media about Tebow's stat line, per a tweet from ESPN's Mike Reiss:
Yes, the term of the day is "complete body of work." In other words, how did Tebow look in run packages and on special teams?
The thing is, the rest of the body of work can be fine, but it is hard to imagine the Patriots keeping a third quarterback over an additional wide receiver, for example, just because Tebow played better on special teams.
New England does not need three quarterbacks. The same night Tebow was a colossal failure against the Buccaneers, Ryan Mallett completed 12 of his 20 attempts for 137 yards and a touchdown.
You can make the case for Tebow sticking on because he could play other positions. The ever-popular speculation of help at the tight end position seems to be all but dead, however, after Zach Sudfeld has emerged at the position. Against Tampa Bay, Sudfeld caught another two passes for 32 yards and a touchdown with the first team.
Tebow is strictly a quarterback, and that is how New England has used him. But one has to begin to wonder how he ever managed to lead the Denver Broncos to the playoffs in 2011 when looking at his horrible mechanics and negative-one-yard performance.
In the simplest sense, negative yardage at the quarterback position should be impossible. Screens and quick-hitting slants should prevent things from moving backward. Tebow found a way to do it, though, and against third-stringers to boot.
New England has to decide if Tebow is worth keeping around as a developmental quarterback. The obvious answer is no.
Now in his fourth season, it is beginning to look as if Tebow has regressed. The throwing mechanics are all out of whack. His chemistry with the receivers simply isn't there after two games and all of training camp. The accuracy has never been there having never completed more than 50 percent of his passes in meaningful playing time.
Tebow has shown through two games that the experiment should come to an end. If there was one man who could save Tebow's career, it was Belichick. At this point, Tebow appears to be past saving.
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling