New England Patriots Quarterback Tim Tebow May Become The Silver Lining In The Wake Of The Aaron Hernandez Tragedy.
The New England Patriots quarterback competition during the off-season is always about who will secure the back up spot. For more than a decade, Tom Brady has been without question the only consideration for the starting quarterback roster spot. That hasn’t changed during this off-season, and barring a career ending injury, apparently this won’t be the case for at least another five years according to Brady. Tom Terrific recently mentioned that he has plans to play past his 40th birthday.
Jun 12, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterbacks Tim Tebow (left) , Tom Brady (center) and Ryan Mallett (right) during minicamp at the practice fields of Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Brady’s commitment to excellence and burning desire to compete for as long as possible all but ensures Ryan Mallett’s exit from New England before the start of the 2014 season. Ryan Mallett dropped out of the first round in the 2011 draft due to questions about his maturity. Mallett, the strong armed pocket passer, started his college career at Tom Brady’s alma mater, but transferred to Arkansas when the misguided Rich Rodriguez defied Wolverine tradition and implemented his spread offense in Ann Arbor.
In Arkansas, Mallett got arrested after having a bit too much alcohol, and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge. In spite of showing off his tremendous talent as a Razorback, questions remained about Mallett’s maturity. The new collective bargaining agreement was still not finalized, so the price for a top 5 pick in the draft was enormous, and apparently the risk was as well as all 32 teams passed on Mallet in the first round. In fact, New England waited until the third round to draft Ryan Mallett.
After beating out Brian Hoyer for the second string quarterback position, Mallett has been watching and learning from the sidelines, waiting for an opportunity. The opportunity for Mallett to earn the starting job in New England is very unlikely. Given Brady’s competitive flame, his exceptional ability to make pre-snap adjustments, the continuity of his outstanding offensive line, and the rule changes that protect the quarterback, Ryan Mallett is very unlikely to take the torch from Brady to become the next franchise quarterback in New England.
Mallett has had very limited chances to show off his talent and to expose the wisdom and leadership he’s probably developed under the tutelage of both Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Yet given his stature, his very impressive arm strength, and the probable strong endorsement of Coach Belichick to potential suitors, it’s very possible and probable that in this ever-increasing quarterback driven league, New England could secure a first round draft pick for Ryan Mallett.
In the 2014 off-season, given it would be Mallett’s last year of his rookie contract, a trade is almost a certainty. He is not getting on the field as long as Brady is around, and the Patriots certainly won’t have him hold a clip board in his final season only to watch him become a free agent.
Does Tim Tebow Win The Backup Quarterback Roster Spot?
Given the premise that Ryan Mallett is not going to wear a Patriot uniform after this season, does it make sense to trade him this year and have Tim Tebow back up Tom Brady at quarterback?
The impulsive answer is ‘No Way!’. Most analysts, in spite of winning in Denver, have stated Tim Tebow is not an NFL caliber quarterback. Bill Belichick is an innovator and makes personnel decisions as objectively as anyone who’s ever been a head coach in the NFL. However, he would never compromise what’s best for the team by having a player incapable of giving the team a legitimate chance to win on the roster.
So is it conceivable that Tim Tebow gives the New England Patriots a better chance to win over Ryan Mallett, assuming Tom Brady gets injured?
The answer with Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker on the team is an overwhelming ‘No!’. However, the Patriots, even with Tom Brady, are going to have to rely more heavily on the run game due to the off-season losses of both Welker and Hernandez, the answer to that question needs to be completely reconsidered.
First of all, Tebow has much more NFL experience than Mallet. He started several games in Denver, rallying them to a playoff win before getting ousted by New England. Secondly, unless rookies Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce do what no rookie Patriots wide receivers have done in recent memory, the Patriots are not going to have a strong middle or deep passing game this season. They will still excel at their short passing game and screen passing game with Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman. Also, its probable that superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski will start the season on the PUP list due to his arm and back surgeries this off-season, further limiting the New England passing attack.
Objectively analyzing the odds, many scenarios point to Tim Tebow’s grit, leadership, and running ability to fit better with this years personnel should the back up quarterback be called upon to take this team to the playoffs. If Bill Belichick can find a team to part with at least a first round pick for Ryan Mallett, do not be surprised to see Tim Tebow taking ownership of the back up role this year. If Aaron Hernandez were still with the team, the likelihood of this scenario would be greatly reduced. Hernadez’s versatility to split out wide, combined with the versatility we should see from Shane Vereen, and the possible emergence of a deep threat from one of the two rookie wide receiver draft picks, would have tipped the scale to believe the passing game would remain the main stay of the offense and thus keeping Mallett would give the Patriots the best chance to win should Brady go down. However, with Hernandez out for sure, the odds seem to favor Tebow being the better back up option, and thus Tim Tebow’s dream of being an NFL quarterback could be more likely to come true due to the horrific Aaron Hernandez tragedy.