Tebow’s chances of staying with Patriots uncertain
Tim Tebow walked off the practice field with no reporters
blocking his path to the locker room. Finally, a few strolled up
for a 90-second interview then moved on to longer chats with other
The media circus that surrounded him last season is gone.
His uncertain future remains.
Ten weeks into what could be his last shot at staying in the
NFL, Tebow seems to be on the roster bubble. He is simply trying to
make the team now, but has played poorly in two exhibition
His passer rating was 0.0 – that’s zero-point-zero – in New
England’s 25-21 win over Tampa Bay last Friday night.
”You would definitely want to do better in some areas,” said
Tebow, the only quarterback the Patriots used in the second half
vs. the Buccaneers. ”Also, you have different things happen that
you just try to handle the best way you can.”
He completed just one of seven passes for a loss of one yard,
and had one interception on a badly overthrown pass. He was sacked
twice on his first nine plays. But the lefty who has trouble
reading defenses and zipping passes did what he does best, running
six times for 30 yards.
A week earlier, in his debut, he was a bit better – 4 for 12 for
55 yards with four runs for 31 yards in a 31-22 win over the
Numbers may not lie, but coach Bill Belichick sees a larger
truth. He watches Tebow at every practice, sees how diligently he
studies and how dedicated he is in the weight room.
And he sees some positive steps from the player traded by the
Denver Broncos and cut by the New York Jets in a span of 13
”Yeah, definitely,” Belichick said. ”I think if you look at
the entire week last week, that it will look different than the
Tebow could get another chance in the third preseason game on
Thursday night against the Lions in Detroit. That’ll be five days
before the mandatory roster cut to 75 players. The Patriots finish
the exhibition schedule Aug. 29 against the New York Giants. The
final cut to 53 comes two days later.
Tebow, as expected, says he’s not thinking about his prospects
of sticking around. Grasping the New England offense is difficult
”I just focus one day at a time,” he says, ”improving every
It’s not even an issue?
”Just getting ready for the practice,” he says with a
Belichick has been typically reticent. The Patriots signed Tebow
for a reason, of course, and though New England often carries just
two quarterbacks, the veteran coach is unfazed by preseason
Asked last week if he plans to keep Tebow, if healthy, on the
53-man roster, Belichick said, ”That’s not anything that we’re
ready to talk about right now. A lot of competition out there.
We’ll see how it all plays out.”
There are some factors in Tebow’s favor.
He could be used as a punt protector, forcing opponents to play
for a fake on a direct snap. He could line up as a receiver, pose
as a decoy, or give Tom Brady a target for a quick pass to the
sideline that he can run with. He’s played only quarterback in
training camp drills, all open to the media, but could be used
elsewhere now that the practices are open for just a short time
With Tom Brady having thrown all but 47 of the Patriots’ passes
the last four years and Ryan Mallett entrenched as the backup,
coaches may view Tebow as a project with plenty of time to work on
his quarterbacking skills without having to play in games.
And would the Patriots really keep a sixth defensive end or
sixth cornerback instead of him?
But then, there are the negatives.
The Patriots have kept just two quarterbacks in three of the
past four years. Tebow tends to scramble too soon, without
exhausting all options down the field. And when he does look down
there, finding his third or fourth receiving option has been a
And then, of course, some throws have been well out of the
But Belichick is known for utilizing a player’s strengths even
if he has glaring shortcomings. That’s the Patriot Way.
”All players have different skill sets and some guys do some
things better than others,” he said. ”I think we see a lot of
good quarterbacks in the NFL. They aren’t all maybe the best
passers, but their ability to run and pass and make plays – design
plays, scramble plays, whatever it is – makes them a high level
player. I don’t think there’s one specific style you have to have
or don’t have to have.
”In the end, it’s about production and being able to do enough
things to be successful.”
Tebow had success in Denver. He threw the winning pass on the
first overtime play from scrimmage against Pittsburgh in the AFC
wild-card round, before losing to New England the next week.
He was a flop after the Broncos traded him to the Jets. New York
never figured out how to use him and released him last April
From there, Tebow watched and waited. And just when it seemed no
team wanted him, the Patriots gave him a non-guaranteed contract on
But soon, Tebow may be looking for work … again.
”I’ve just got to go out there and play as hard as I can and
try to improve,” he said. ”And I’ll let a lot of smarter people
grade us and judge us.”
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org