Enigmatic quarterback Tim Tebow must shine on the field for the New England Patriots in Week 4 of the NFL preseason if he wants to make the final 53-man roster. New England will face off against the New York Giants, and Tebow will have to be at his absolute best.
The Patriots and the rest of the NFL must trim their rosters Saturday to the regular-season limit of 53 players. With a lackluster preseason performance thus far that includes 5-of-19 passing for 54 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception and three sacks in two games, Tebow will have to play much better than that Thursday night if he wants to survive the final cut.
Week 4 of the preseason features backups for every franchise fighting to make the final roster, and Tebow’s chance to make an impact will come against the second- and third-string defenses of New York.
The Giants defense was one of the worst in the NFL last season. They ranked 28th against the pass, allowing 254.3 yards per game, and 25th against the rush, allowing 129.1 yards per game. New England should expect a very weak opponent considering New York's thin defensive depth.
If Tebow fails once again, no amount of good attitude or off-field worth ethic will save him.
Tebow's lack of serious NFL-level talent as a pocket quarterback (both passing the ball and making smart decisions while going through the progressions) is his biggest weakness, and the Patriots know that.
The hope is that the team will give him the chance to shine in an offense that suits him more (a run-first game plan with option plays for the QB) and let him earn a spot on the roster with his ability to thrive under pressure.
As Tebow proved with the Denver Broncos, his practice numbers may be horrible and his technique anything but orthodox, but under the intense pressure of a football game, the man knows how to get the ball into the end zone.
New England needs players that can contribute to a winning effort on the field. Tebow is far from the most fundamentally sound name on the bubble, but he has a great work ethic and the willingness to fight for a victory.
Those intangibles can’t be valued using statistics alone.
While Thursday’s performance will certainly depict how long the quarterback stays with the team, Patriots owner Robert Kraft has come out publicly and vouched for the polarizing backup.
Kraft talked to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald about Tebow as a person and how he is pulling for him to make the final roster for the franchise:
Anyone who’s met [Tebow], he’s a very special young man. I’m rooting for him big-time. He’s been a real joy to have around here. I see why he has such a strong national following. He’s just a great, great young man. We’re also privileged to have Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett. I like our position. If you look around the league . . . I just give thanks for the position we’re in. I’m rooting for him. I’m in his corner. I have the privilege of letting Bill make that decision. He’s got a pretty good record doing that.
The owner of the team making a statement this glowing about a player is a great sign for his future with the franchise. Everyone knows that Kraft signs the checks, and while Belichick has the ultimate say in the matter, no one wants to get on the boss' bad side.
There are many factors that will play into whether Tebow makes the team, but as long as he performs well against the Giants, the stage has been set for the QB to make the final cut for the Week 1 starting 53-man roster.