Jul 26, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow talks with media following training camp at the practice fields of Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Tebow Not Worth Roster Spot


When the New England Patriots signed headline-grabbing quarterback Tim Tebow, there was no question there would be a lot of buzz around him in training camp. Tebow draws a lot of attention wherever he goes, but unfortunately for him it’s generally not because of his play on the field, but more as a result of his outgoing personality and the very public way he exercises his Christian faith.

Tebow’s struggles to develop into an NFL caliber pocket passer are well documented. He’s in his fourth year now and thus far he’s had little success transitioning from a mobile college quarterback to a consistent NFL signal caller. In the one season Tebow masqueraded as a starting quarterback, his numbers were dreadful. He completed only 46 percent of his passes and sported a pitiful quarterback rating of 72.9. If there were a Mendoza line for starting quarterbacks, Tebow might be its namesake.

Tebow’s a likable guy and there’s no questioning his competitive spirit on the field, but to believe he’ll develop into someone coaches can trust with their team’s offense every Sunday is unrealistic. The Patriots have a world class coaching staff. There’s no debating that. To think, however, that they will succeed where all others have failed is a reach. It’s not like Tebow was working with bad coaches on his previous teams. John Fox and John Elway in Denver  have pretty impressive resumes. When in New York, Tebow worked primarily with offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh, both well respected throughout the league. Josh McDaniels is a great coach and he obviously saw something in Tebow when he drafted him that lead him to believe he could develop the young quarterback into an NFL starter. Now that Tebow has had the opportunity to play elsewhere, it’s worth wondering whether McDaniels still believes that.

It’s not Tebow’s accuracy as a passer that will ultimately determine whether or not he makes the Patriots roster out of training camp, though. It’s more the fact that the Patriots simply don’t need a third quarterback and with so many question marks at so many positions, the opportunity cost of keeping Tebow on the roster is too high. With so much competition in training camp at so many critical positions, the Patriots are better served using a roster spot to carry more depth at a position of uncertainty than on a third string quarterback who will never see the field.

At the end of the preseason, the Patriots will have quality players on the bubble at essentially every position. It’s more likely that they will keep more depth in the defensive backfield, on the defensive line, or keep a player around who can contribute on special teams consistently. Players like Marquice Cole, Steve Beauharnais, Michael Buchanan, Jake Bequette, Marcus Forston, and Marcus Benard come to mind. Yes, some of those players could realistically make it to the practice squad, but so to could Tebow. Let’s not forget that the Patriots signed him very late in free agency just before the start of mandatory minicamp. There wasn’t great interest in Tebow throughout free agency and unless the injury bug hits an NFL team at quarterback before the end of preseason, there won’t be much interest in him then.

Tebow is likely to have an active preseason, beginning on Friday in Philadelphia. The opportunity to play consistent snaps throughout preseason gives Tebow a chance to show other NFL teams  just what he might be able to do for them. The only way it makes sense for the Patriots to keep Tebow on the 53 man roster is if he plays well enough in preseason to the point where his trade value becomes real. That’s not likely to happen, though, given the Patriots offense relies so heavily on timing patterns and Tom Brady’s quick release, something Tebow struggles mightily with.

There’s still a chance for Tim Tebow to be an impact player in the NFL, but it’s not going to happen at the quarterback position. His best bet to make it in this league is to publicly embrace the idea of changing positions and start working with some coaches who can help him do just that. He’s a dangerous ball carrier and if he could be taught to run routes and catch passes he could be a successful tight end in the NFL. His window to make that transition is closing, though, and this next offseason may well be his last chance.

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  • Gary Wolff

    I agree its probably not best to keep 3 QB’s…. So given the premise that the Patriots keep 2 QB’s only, I make the case that Tebow is the better option over Mallet. Tebow has more experience, and has won a playoff game in this league. Tebow can throw very short passes well, and can drop the long ball into a spot pretty well also.
    If Brady goes down (dear God, please don’t let Brady get hurt), given where the Patriots are now with Welker gone, Hernandez gone, Gronk on PUP (most probably), they are going to be run oriented and throw some deep passes to keep teams honest. That’s true whether Mallet or Tebow is in. And it may be true with Brady in there depending on the health of Edelman and the worth of the rookie receivers.
    So for this year, in my opinion, Tebow is the better back up option as he gives the team a better chance to win more games. He’s done it, he’s a leader, and the Patriots can be run centric. If Mallet takes over this year, he’s a pocket passer and the middle and out routes are his bread and butter… That’s not going to be there most likely… at least not for a while as some chemistry develops… so if Mallet comes in with rookie wideouts, we are going to be running the ball,and much rather have Tebow in.

    So, Mallet makes a good showing this pre-season, some unfortunate team has an injury, or perhaps Jacksonville goes for the hat trick and trades for mallett to join Gabbert and Henne…. Who knows, but if the Patriots and get a 2nd or 1st rounder for Mallet, Tebow’s the man, and may beat out Mallet anyway.

    I disagree with the concept completely that Tebow can just play some other position. He’s a QB, and I don’t think he can be an effective tight end or running back any time soon. The learning curve for those positions in my view is bigger than the one for QB. He knows how to win games if the coaching staff commits the game plan around his skill sets, win he will.

    Let’s pray to the football Gods we never have to find out.

    • Jed Ober

      Hi Gary,

      Some good points here and I agree that if the Patriots could get a first or second round pick for Mallet they should do it, but I don’t see that as likely.

      In regards to your comment that it might be hard for him to learn a new position, I agree that it would be hard and that’s why I think he should start sooner rather than later. I’d also point out that in Julian Edelman the Patriots have a player that has very successfully made the transition from quarterback to receiver.

      • Gary Wolff

        True, Edelman is a star in the making if he can stay healthy… His hands seem to have improved quite a bit… jugs machine I guess??

        I still think Tebow ends up as a QB somewhere… If they can’t trade Mallet, then Tebow probably is the odd man out, but I’m not sure that’s the best move given my previous comments… Must also take into account Mallet is likely not the back up next year if he has any value to anyone… If he has value, Patriots will get that value and trade him… .Otherwise, if he has no value, Tebow is the better player outright at QB due to intangibles and experience…. Again, given the run centric likelihood of the Pats O this year, it just makes sense to me to keep Tebow over Mallet knowing he is out next year anyway… If Mallet had some chance of staying then I’d change my tune, but he’s not a Patriot… the timing just isn’t there for that to happen.

        Good article though… I enjoyed the read…

  • Shneevels

    I don’t’ think Tebow will ever be a great NFLr, but GOD has him in this league for better reasons. “Like what?” you ask. Well, everyone’s talking about him; his talent doesn’t overshadow his faith; and his faith in CHRIST is being talked about everywhere. He’s had tons of opportunities to share his faith, and people are being saved as a result. Seems to me that the Ultimate Coach is using a pretty fabulous strategy for advancing His Kingdom, and when He’s done, Tebow will be benched for good.

  • demosthenes9

    Two points of contention. First, by what measure does John Fox have an impressive resume ? He was 73-71 in 9 years @ Carolina and only had 3 winning seasons, 2 seasons @ .500 and 4 seasons were sub .500.

    Similar question could be asked of Tony Sparano. He was fired as a HC in Miami, then fired a year later as an OC. He finally got picked up by the Raiders as an offensive line coach. Screams more of “old boy network” than it does any real respect.

    And Matt Cavanaugh ? QB coach of record for Trent Dilfer and Mark Sanchez ? That Matt Cavanuagh ?

    Those statements alone give me enough pause to question the validity of the rest of the article.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Questioning John Fox’s resume, eh? Well, he took the Carolina Panthers to the SB, the NFC Championship game in 2005, and he took a team led by post-injury, too-old Jake Delhomme at QB to a bye week. They lost that game to the Cards, of course, thanks to Delhomme, but Fox had great success in Carolina. His first year in Denver, he immediately morphed the defense into one of the best in the league and took the Broncos to the playoffs. With the Giants in 2000, he was the defensive coordinator and famously told GM Ernie Accorsi that he would shut out Culpepper and his massive weapons in the NFC Championship game. And the Giant did shut em out.

      So please, don’t diss the writer of the article, because you can’t even get your facts straight on John Fox. Does that make me question the validity of the rest of your comment? No, but it does bother me that you are so quick to leap to generalizations.

      • Jed Ober

        Joe said it well on Fox. It’s easy to question any head coaches resume, much easier than it is heap praise on them, in fact. I’ve always been impressed with the job Fox has done throughout different stages of his career, not just as a head coach.

        I take your point on Cavanaugh, but I tend to think he’s done pretty well with the players he’s had. He did well enough with Sanchez in 2010 for them to beat the Patriots in the playoffs that year (since wins and losses are the stats you use above) and coaching Trent Dilfer to a championship seems like an achievement to me. I don’t think anyone could do better with Sanchez. He’s just not that talented.

        • demosthenes9

          Dilfer and Sanchez both had teams with extremely good running games and insane defenses. Take the Ravens SB win for example. Final score was 34-7. Dilfer’s stat line ? 12 for 25, 48.00%, 153 yards.

          Sorry, that’s nothing for a QB coach to get props on.

          • Jed Ober

            Thanks for your comments and good points. I certainly appreciate the discussion. Let’s just say that if Dilfer or Sanchez were on the Patriots roster right now, I certainly wouldn’t be arguing for them to make the team either! I’m interested to hear your thoughts on whether or not you think Tebow should be on the 53 man roster come the end of preseason.

          • demosthenes9

            Jed, thanks for your comments as well. I should point out that your article is pretty fair overall. It was just the comments about Fox, Sparano, et al that I took issue with.

            Should Tebow make the roster ? I definitely believe that he should, but then again, I’m a Tebow fan. I’d make the case that he did a pretty good job in Denver considering that he came off the bench in his 2nd year. By the end of the season, he’d racked up a grand total of 16 starts. He showed numerous flaws, to be sure, but he also showed some talent.
            It helps to remember than when drafted, he was seen as a two to three year project. That he would take time to develop. Josh understood this going in, but he put a lot of stock in Tebow’s “intangibles”, which is why Josh traded back into the first round to grab him.
            According to many coaches/experts, things like mechanics and reading defenses can be taught or coached. Intangibles can’t be. So, when you find a kid with a boatload of intangibles, you take a shot at trying to develop them.
            My prediction is that Tebow will make the 53 man roster as QB3 and that Josh and Daboll will continue to work on his development. There’s a possibility that he will improve to the point where he could be the #2 which would free up Mallett for a trade.
            If he doesn’t show noticeable improvement this year, the Pats will cut him and move on.
            Remember, Bill has a history of “wasting” a roster spot on a QB that he thinks will amount to something :)

      • demosthenes9

        IF you want to talk about Fox as a DC, that’s fine. I wouldn’t have a problem with it. There have been many guys who are good Coordinators that failed when moving up to being the HC. Look at Romeo Crennel for example. Or Wade Phillips.

        The HEAD Coach has responsibilities other than the defense. Like I pointed out previously, Fox had a grand total of 3 winning seasons in 9 years. I don’t see that as an impressive resume.

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  • George McDowell

    He’s not a QB, he’s an embarrassing sideshow. And now the sideshow is over.
    For good. Good riddance, loser. And especially: Good riddance Teboner followers.