Moving past the obvious "WTF" factor, the inevitable media circus that will now hit Foxboro hard, and his clear limitations as a quarterback, one must now ruminate as to precisely how one Tim Tebow fits into the New England Patriots' plans. He could be a fullback, an H-back, a personal punt protector, or any number of other ancillary things, but let's assume, for the sake of argument, thatTebow is going to New England to be what offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels drafted him in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft to be -- a quarterback, and damn the torpedoes. First, we must get past the fact that the Pats already have a pretty decent quarterback in the person of Tom Brady -- this will make no sense to the Tebowites, some of whom are still seriously ticked off that John Elway and John Fox jettisoned their guy aside for that Peyton Manning bum.
No, we must now ask ourselves about Tebow the quarterback. That's what he's ostensibly signing with the Patriots to be, to whatever degree. And we must remember a few things about that possibility: First, the Pats went 11-5 in 2008 with Matt Cassel as their quarterback after Brady injured his knee early in the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Second, New England head coachBill Belichick is the same guy who once tasked receiver Troy Brown to play defensive back, and set linebacker Mike Vrabel up to catch a bunch of touchdown passes. As everyone is telling you today,Belichick thinks outside the box, and at his best, he's a trend or two ahead of the mainstream. Third, Brady did run 23 times for 11 first downs and four touchdowns in 2012, but one doesn't generally want one's 36-year-old quarterback to keep beating the odds against stacked fronts in short-yardage situations. And for all his glaring limitations as a quarterback, Tebow is actually a pretty decent red-zone threat -- he scored 12 rushing touchdowns in his two years with the Broncos, and the fact that the Jets didn't use him in those types of situations last season was just a matter of the Jets being stupid.
So, moving past the lost year Tebow suffered through with the Jets in 2012, how seriously should we take him as a backup quarterback in an offense that is as complex as anything you'll ever see?
When Tebow started down the stretch for the Broncos in 2011, McDaniels had already been fired, and it was up to offensive coordinator Mike McCoy to weld concepts Tebow could execute to those the other offensive starters could pick up in a hurry. As with other option quarterbacks over the last few years, this was done with a heaping helping of option plays, but in Tebow's case, McCoy aspired as much as possible to set things up so that Tebow's first read was always open, and easily attainable.The Patriots would have to adjust their passing concepts pretty severely to make something like that work, because Belichick and McDaniels currently have the NFL's most complex series of option routes.
Most of what Tebow did in 2011 was a series of simple run-reads in which the imperative was to get the first-read guy open, and cut Tebow loose as a runner if not. The overtime touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in Denver's wild-card win over the Pittsburgh Steelers was actually a good example of Tebow's nebulous ability to process multiple reads on the run. In the Broncos' 17-13 Week 11 win over the Jets -- the game former Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum referred to when speaking of Tebow as an ideal Wildcat quarterback -- the Broncos ran all kinds of traditional and spread plays, with far more diversity than the Steeler/Power/Counter package.