Today on SportsCenter while “analysts” Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith were at the AT&T Center covering tonight’s Heat/Spurs game, the name Tim Tebow came up because…well it’s ESPN and they have to bring up Tebow at every possible moment. They fuel the Tebow circus more than anyone and it’s extremely frustrating to listen to it on a daily basis. Even as I’m typing, they are discussing tonight’s NBA championship game but have “Tebow Reactions” and “Tebow’s Top 10″ lined up to be discussed. The frustration apparently has finally gotten to Stephen A. Smith too, because he ripped SportsCenter on the air for having them discuss Tebow during a basketball segment.
“Once upon a time I used to do segments for SportsCenter all by myself when Tebow’s name was never mentioned. What happened to those glory days?” – Stephen A. Smith
The reason for this piece, however, is not to rip SportsCenter for creating Tebow-mania. During the inappropriately-timed discussion, Skip Bayless voiced his opinion that Tim Tebow would overtake Ryan Mallett as Tom Brady’s backup. This is a bold statement and although Tebow just arrived in New England, there is little evidence to support this. Two hints that this is extremely unlikely to happen were given to us today at minicamp:
The first is that Tebow didn’t take #15 away from Mallett and instead was given #5. While it isn’t known if Tebow requested #15 and was denied, or was simply given another number without question, it shows that he is not here to take anything away from Mallett. Current backup to Brady and perhaps the future of the franchise, Mallett has shown promise in his three years with New England. He beat out former backup Brian Hoyer last year in the preseason and has the size and arm strength of a future starting quarterback. There were many trade rumors surrounding Mallett this offseason, but no one wanted Tebow except the Patriots.
The second sign that Mallett will likely keep his job as backup is that during minicamp today, he and Brady were the only two quarterbacks that really worked with the offense. Both of them wore play-calling sheets attached to their wrists, while Tebow did not. Tebow only threw at the end of practice to backups. This could likely be attributed to his very recent signing and unfamiliarity with the Patriots’ playbook, but I can imagine this was also a statement to Tebow. He is not there to take the starting or backup jobs, those are already claimed. He is there to prove his use with the offense in some form, be it a hybrid option offense, a different position, or third-string quarterback. If he doesn’t prove himself he will be cut.
This is an established team and he is starting at the bottom again. It’s hard to imagine the Patriots, who have groomed Mallett for years and chose to not trade him at the draft, being comfortable with Tebow taking over the role of backup. After already seeing Tebow as a starter, I’d rather take my chances with the unproven Mallett as my starter if the apocalypse happens and Brady gets hurt. While it hasn’t been officially said, I’d like to think the Patriots have been thinking ahead to the dreaded post-Brady time. Keeping Mallett as Brady’s understudy shows they have concern for the future. The only way I see Tebow taking Mallett’s job is if he out-performs Mallett during pre-season or there is an injury.