In the never-ending cycle of “news” that surrounds Tim Tebow, New England Patriots’ Head Coach Bill Belichick’s name came up today. In this edition of Tebowtainment, Mike Silver of Yahoo pointed out that Belichick “hates” Tebow as a player and there is “no chance” that he would join the New England Patriots.
Now let’s be fair to both sides here. Let’s ignore the weird obsession that the world has with Tim Tebow and look at him solely as a potential quarterback addition. Let’s not take the media circus into account, let’s not look at his reputation or religion, let’s just look at Tim Tebow the player.
What is Tebow?
He is a quarterback who has started 14 games at the quarterback position over his three year career. He has attempted 361 passes and completed 173 of those for a 47.9 completion percentage and 2,422 yards. Despite that low completion percentage, he has a respectable 17 touchdowns to just nine interceptions. When you consider his rushing ability, Tebow adds another 12 touchdowns and 14 fumbles to his totals, which still makes for a decent stat-line.
Yet, the real issue with Tebow is his inability to carry an offense with his arm. During his 11 game stretch as the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback in 2011, also known as Tebow-Time, the then 24-year-old quarterback only managed 1,729 yards through the air, just 157.18 yards per game and 6.38 per attempt. As clutch as he was at the end of games, Tebow’s offensive output was underwhelming to say the least.
His team was only in games late that year because of the performances of a defense that drastically improved from the first week to the last. The Broncos’ running-game did wear down defenses to make scoring easier in the fourth quarter, something that Tebow was a big part of, but games with final points totals of 3, 14, 23, 13, 35, 16, 17, 17, 38, 10 and 18 are not enough to justify him being a starting quarterback.
So the real question is, can Tim Tebow be a backup quarterback?
In the right situation, yes he can be. However, the right situation is ridiculously unrealistic because it would take a better version of Tebow to start ahead of him so the offense could be crafted around his style of play. Tebow’s success in Denver was a result of many things, but current head coach of the San Diego Chargers and former offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos’ Mike McCoy should receive more credit than most.
McCoy made a concentrated effort to completely revamp the team’s offense so that it was tailored to the abilities of Tebow. No franchise in the NFL is going to create a special offense for their backup quarterback, while the style of that offense is too archaic for it to succeed in today’s NFL.
This is where Bill Belichick comes in.
It makes perfect sense that Belichick wouldn’t want Tebow. Belichick is the most forward thinking head coach in the NFL. He is the one that revolutionized how teams approach the tight end position on offense and he is the one who assembled that 2007 team by converting his previously cautious offense into an explosive passing attack.
Much like Greg Popovitch has done with his San Antonio Spurs’ side in the NBA, Belichick changed with the times and flourished because of it.
The times dictate that this is now a passing league. The most successful teams in the league all have quarterbacks who can take over a game with their ability to pass the ball, not their ability to pound between the tackles and hit the odd deep ball every so often. Tebow was born in the wrong generation. He would have been a perfect fit for football 30 or more years ago because his toughness and physicality would have been the peak of what was then considered modern day offense.
Ever since Bill Walsh revolutionized the passing game and the league adapted it’s rulebook to afford wide receivers more opportunities to make plays, the league has been moving away from the running-back and even further away from the running-quarterback. Even though the option brought the rushing talents of Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson back to prominence, those players are where they are because of their ability to be pass-first quarterbacks, not run-first players who struggle to connect on routine passes from play-to-play.
Still, Tebow could come in and be a change of pace quarterback for someone? A player with a different skill-set to catch defenses off balance?
No, he can’t. He can’t because teams have limited practice times in the NFL today. They can’t prepare two completely different offensive systems and playbooks and expect their offense to seamlessly transition from one to the other in a matter of seconds. Not only that, rosters also have a limited number of spots for active players on gameday. In Denver they had the right complementary pieces for Tebow to succeed, a big power back in Willis McGahee, a tough offensive line, a gadget receiver in Eddie Royal and two deep threats outside in Eric Deker and Demaryius Thomas.
While Peyton Manning can come in and work with that unit with just one off-season of preparation, Tebow isn’t the level of player who can play in any system with any supporting cast.
So while he may be able to prosper to some degree in the right scenario, that scenario doesn’t exist around the NFL. Teams are looking for reliability and continuity in their backup quarterbacks. That is why players such as Bruce Gradkowski, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tarvaris Jackson and Josh Johnson are all considered more valuable backups than Tim Tebow ever will be.
Even if the media circus leaves him alone, Tebow will never get another job in the NFL.
You can follow Cian Fahey on twitter @Cianaf