Tim Tebow didn’t belong on the Patriots’ roster, but that doesn’t mean there’s no place for him in the NFL.
As much as fans around New England begged and pleaded for his inclusion on the final 53, Tebow just didn’t make any sense for the Patriots. Tom Brady is a Pro Bowl caliber starter and Ryan Mallett, even with all of his deficiencies, is still a superior quarterback to Tebow. So, in a modern-day NFL, where teams don’t need to carry three quarterbacks — at least not when you have an all-time great like Brady — there was just no room for Tebow with the Patriots.
Bill Belichick confirmed that notion on Saturday afternoon, cutting the dual-threat quarterback in the final round of roster cuts. While his time in New England may be over, other teams should have at least taken notice.
When Tebow first got to the Patriots, he was an unwanted commodity with a unique skill set that no team thought was fit to play quarterback. Twelve weeks and four preseason games later, Tebow still isn’t worthy of starting quarterback consideration on any of the 32 NFL teams, but he’s at least earned another shot.
Tebow will likely never be the same comeback kid who led an underachieving Broncos team against all odds to a miracle playoff win against the Steelers or the one who commanded a fourth-round draft pick in a trade just last year. He doesn’t have the prototypical quarterback skill set and needs a specialized offense built around him in order to be successful, but, if you can get past that, there were some encouraging signs of improvement to note from his time with the Patriots.
Everyone is going to point to learning behind Tom Brady as a major sticking point in Tebow’s development, and it is noteworthy, but there was more to his tenure in New England than a few conversations with a future Hall of Famer. An even bigger point is that Tebow had the opportunity to work one-on-one with quarterback gurus like offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and offensive assistant Brian Daboll. Both have experience working with successful quarterback quarterbacks — most notably Brady and Matt Cassell — and understand the mechanics of the position better than most coaches.
In two-plus months working with McDaniels and Daboll, Tebow made some blatant improvements in his mechanics. Daboll worked him the most, spending some quality alone time with the quarterback on the practice field during training camp. The relationship resulted in Tebow holding the ball higher and tighter — almost tucked underneath his chin — while in the pocket as well as smoother footwork in his dropback. That long, loopy motion hasn’t gone away, and maybe it never will, but the improvements he’s made are notable enough to earn him something.
The results of his work didn’t show out on the field right away, as Tebow struggled against the Eagles and Buccaneers, but the full package finally seemed to come together during his final preseason game.
Tebow completed six of 11 passes for 91 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Patriots’ preseason finale on Thursday, showing off improved accuracy and more decisive throws on the night — something not commonly seen from him this preseason. All of his hard work might not have culminated in a roster spot with the Patriots, as originally hoped, but it should’ve roused some interest.
There are plenty of teams in need of quarterback help right now, including the likes of the Jaguars, Bills, Titans, Raiders and Jets — imagine! — to name a few. Tebow might still not be good enough to usurp the starting role on those teams, but he’s proven he is good enough to compete.
New England wasn’t the right opportunity for Tebow, but, if nothing else, he’s proved he can work in the right situation.