Tim Tebow is Bill Belichick’s ultimate Patriot project

Jarrett Bell, USA Today

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — It wasn’t halfway through the New England Patriots’ first full-squad practice Friday when Bill Belichick’s script offered a tease for the intrigue.

Tim Tebow lined up with an assortment of skill-position targets — running backs, receivers, tight ends — and burst 5 yards or so in front of two defenders and caught a pass from backup quarterback Ryan Mallett.

A few minutes later, during another receiving drill when the targets took a short pass without coverage and turned up field, he caught two throws from Tom Brady.

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So there was a bit of proof. Tebow, who has maintained that he wants to develop as an NFL quarterback rather than switch to another position, had better grasp the idea that to stick as the third quarterback he must be able to contribute in some other role.

“I just do what I’m told,” Tebow said, surrounded by at least two dozen reporters following practice. “I’ll work as hard as I possibly can to do the best job that I can with whatever I’m asked to do.”

He’s in no position to be picky and is so fortunate to land with the Patriots, run by the NFL’s most resourceful coach in Belichick and reunited with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who as Denver Broncos coach believed enough in Tebow that he drafted him in the first round out of Florida in 2010.

The Patriots will give this a legitimate shot.

But how?

Before practice, when asked if he would use Tebow exclusively at quarterback, Belichick maintained that he would use his high-profile project “wherever we feel like he’s best for the team.”

Sure enough, that has to be somewhere other than quarterback.

I see an H-Back, a hybrid fullback-tight end role. Others see tight end, but I think he’d get devoured trying to block as a traditional tight end and doubt that he can be the elusive route-runner in the open field to excel in the emerging “move” tight end spot.

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“I’ll do what the coach asks me to do,” Tebow reiterated, sounding so scripted.

In meetings during a minicamp after he was signed in June and during the first week of training camp, when he reported with the rookies, Tebow has spent all his time with the quarterbacks.

Yet during the rain-soaked session Friday, the same type of problems that dogged Tebow as he completed 47.9% of his passes during his first three seasons showed up again with his reps at quarterback.

There were wild passes, some that sailed high and others that landed at the feet of receivers. His release is still long and slow. During one seven-on-seven play, when two equipment managers waved paddles to distract the quarterbacks, Tebow held onto the football for so long that he could have been sacked by one of the equipment managers as he rolled out looking for a target.

He also was picked off twice. A throw over the middle was intercepted by Tavon Wilson after it sailed beyond the reach of intended target Quentin Sims. Near the end of practice, running a hurry-up drill, Tebow’s ugly pass off a rollout turned into an easy interception at the line of scrimmage by defensive end Chandler Jones.

“I’ve got to keep improving every single day,” Tebow said when asked about the misfires. “We’ll go watch the film and we’ll get better from it. But I felt good about the practice.”

Tebow being Tebow, though, he also drew one of the loudest roars from the hundreds of fans who hung tough in the steady rain to watch the session.

It came after a broken play, during a seven-on-seven drill, when Tebow rolled out and opted to bolt around the end and up the left sideline for about 30 yards.

Then came the chant: Te-Bow! Te-Bow!

Tebow said he tries not to listen to the crowd reaction. And sure enough, he didn’t do anything during practice to play to the crowd.

He’s certainly in a different place, with a different culture and different expectations — with the bonus of being able to learn under Brady.

Someone reminded him of the contrast to New York Jets camp, which was such a high-profile circus last summer.

It was also in Jets camp, in rainy conditions similar to Friday outside Gillette Stadium, where Tebow fueled controversy after taking off his pads and jersey to reveal his bare chest. There was no such beefcake moment Friday.

Asked if he learned from that and would think twice about creating such attention, Tebow chuckled.

“No, I’m not worried about that,” he said. “It’s just focus on whatever I can do in this practice. Not anything that happened last year.”

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Still, last year provides context for now. When the Jets traded for Tebow, they envisioned using him for special packages that included the Wildcat. As it turned out, he barely was used. His biggest impact came with a couple of first-down runs off direct snaps as the punt protector. When Mark Sanchez was hurt, he was passed over and Greg McElroy started at quarterback.

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“I feel like every situation is a learning opportunity in life,” he said. “Not only in football, but in everything you do in life. There’s ups, there’s downs, there’s learning opportunities, there’s praise, there’s criticism and you’ve got to handle everything.”

He couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge the frustration of last season.

“It’s this year,” he said.

Yes, he has new hope. Especially if they can find something else for Tebow to do while he tries to improve techniques as a quarterback.

This might be his last shot. The Jets released Tebow after the draft in April, and he didn’t land with the Patriots until early June.

Last chance?

“I’m focused on today, getting better today,” he said. “Not anything that’s going to happen down the road. As a football player, as a competitor, you have to have that attitude.”

And in his case, Tebow must also have a utility role to grow with.


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21 Responses to “Tim Tebow is Bill Belichick’s ultimate Patriot project”

  1. Tisa says:

    Tweets about practice for Tebow are not that good today. He went 4 for 8 and someone said one of his passes went to a water boy on the sidelines. However, I read nothing about how the other two were doing. The weather is sunny and pleasant.

    • Sage says:

      Half of Tebow’s game is verboten in practice, e.g., extending plays and 15-yard first-down runs. If the Pats are smart, they know this.

      • tawk2 says:

        I agree Sage, but I am worried that they will only see his practice efforts. I wish the media did not tweet Tim’s every move especially his stats each day. We also have to remember that Tim is in another new offense it will take time to learn.

      • TheMascotArmy says:

        yup. practice makes guys like orton look good. 4th quarters make Tebow look good.

        • tawk2 says:

          I heard on the NFL channel on training camp live that Tim was with the H backs and but Tim was passing the ball to the running back, the sports reporter said Tim looked smooth when throwing the ball and did not look like he did in the past. So I guess it depends on who is reporting on how Tim looked today.

          I wish I could go to a live practice and see with my own eyes, Tim working out. I hate having to rely on a lot of bias naysayers reporting on how Tim is doing.

          • tawk2 says:

            I just seen a story where the Patriot fans where calling for Brady when Tim was in the middle of a drill, I guess Tim paused and the fans started yelling Brady Brady Brady. Tim I am sure felt really bad, so I guess the Pats fans truly do hate Tim. Wow is all I can say.

            I guess it’s going to only get worse as training camp continues. How can fans be so mean.

            Here is the link to the story posted.


            I will warn you lots of haters and naysayers in the comments area.

          • TheMascotArmy says:

            Nasty. I’ll never understand why people are so gung ho about being douche bags. I think some people like to think will of themselves, and attack anything that shines a light on their deficiencies. I thought the party’s fans would defer to their coaches on talent evaluation, but it looks like patriots fans are just as unrealistically overconfident as keys fans are. it’s a shame.

          • TheMascotArmy says:

            Will= well
            party= patriot
            keys= jets

            Swype strikes again!

            nfl fans are clowns, and THAT circus will be driving me away from nfl football.

          • Sage says:

            This is another example of why I think Tim would have been better off if he could have gone someplace like Arizona. And why I continue to hate Elway more than the rest. Denver was the right place for Tebow.

            People are happy in Arizona and the far west, and not under the cloud of whatever makes Bostonians so cranky. Back in the mid 1980s I made a few short trips to Boston, and it seemed like everyone wanted to kick my ass. Charming.

          • Lynn says:

            They don’t hate Tim in Boston, they hate Tim’s fans.

            When they were chanting “Brady, Brady, Brady,” they were mocking (i.e. payback) for those who chant “Tebow, Tebow, Tebow.”

            Tim takes a lot of flack for the sake of the animosity towards his fans.

          • jason says:

            Lynn is right they don’t hate tebow and besides how many times have other QBs been doing things and fans chant for tebow? Is it ok to chant for one guy but others not do the same.
            Plus brady is their QB 100% and they love brady like many of you love tebow. They chant for brady every year at camps like this. This year some of it is due to tebow fans but once again if brady was taking snaps and some people chanted for tebow wouldn’t that be just as mean and cruel toward tom as what people say it was toward tim.
            Patriots fans for the most part do step in line with belichick. If tim gets it all down and makes it then they’ll be all for tim doing great things for the team, just don’t expect them to abandoned their love for brady and turn toward wanting tebow. They’re a mouthy bunch but they don’t mean any harm and I doudt it bothered tim as I’m sure he understood he was coming to a team that has a fanbase that loves brady the same way tebow was loved in florida. And patriots fans pull for the patriots 1st and some were probably bothered by people there more concerned about 1 player than the team they pull for since some are just patriots fans now because of a single player when those patriots fans have been pulling for the team before any of the players were even on it.

  2. Brandi says:

    In certain Option Offenses there’s a Position referred to as a Cutter Back. Much of what the Jets said last year they planned to do and what they showed Reporters in the (in)famous Closed Session showing off their Super-Secret Offensive Schemes, indicated that was what they planned for Tim Tebow. It’s a hybrid Position that can line up almost anywhere on the Field, including behind Center and, when not behind Center, is usually in Motion. The Position takes the ability to Run, Pass, Block, Catch, younameit. It’s pretty much a throwback to the likes of Bobby Layne and Paul Hornung…the two Hall-of-Famers Tim most resembles. Though Tim may actually be better than either of them and is certainly a far better Passer than either.

    But the Jets never did it. Mostly because Tony Sparano has no business as an Offensive Coordinator. He admitted himself the Game moves to quickly for him to make Play Calling decisions rapidly enough. (Kind of an important ability for the guy, you know, calling the Plays.)

    It’s a sort of Quarterback and a half Offense and, nobody is already set up better to implement something like that than the Patriots. The big question is…If they do, how many different things will NFL Media call it before they call it by the right name?

  3. tawk2 says:

    Has anyone heard how Tim is doing today/Sunday? I heard yesterday that Tim caught a pass from Tom Brady the reporter said it was a pretty catch by Tim.

    Hope he is having a great day, GO TEBOW!

    • Tisa says:

      Twitter is saying, at least those I follow, that Tebow had a much better day. Better passing generally with a 40 yard TD pass included.

      • tawk2 says:

        Thanks tisa, I heard it was a 50 yard pass in another story. I am glad Tim had a better day. It’s funny can’t find that on the front page of MSN today, but you could find Tim is horrendous Friday through Sat. I guess they forgot to report on this.

  4. tawk2 says:

    I saw this tweet on ESPN.com about Tim in practice today/Sunday. Tim can always pass a long ball, GO TEBOW!

    MikeReiss Mike Reiss

    Near end of practice, Tim Tebow connects with WR Kenbrell Thompkins on long TD down the left side. Nice long ball.

  5. David Oliver says:

    Day 3 Sunday Patriot Practice TT results from Boston.com 7-28-13


    Full pads (including knee and thigh pads).


    ■ CB Aqib Talib made a beautiful one-handed deflection of a deep fade pass intended for Matthew Slater.

    ■ QB Ryan Mallett threw a nice deep out pass to Kenbrell Thompson in 1-on-1 drills.

    ■ WR Aaron Dobson absolutely faked Ras-I Dowling out of his cleats in 1-on-1 drills.

    ■ WR Josh Boyce made a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch on a fade pass from Tom Brady with CB Logan Ryan in coverage.

    ■ Tim Tebow threw a perfect 50-yard bomb to Kenbrell Thompkins over CB Stephon Morris for a touchdown to end practice.

    ■ CB Kyle Arrington intercepted Tom Brady in the end zone on a badly underthrown deep pass. Brady was not happy with himself.


    WR Kenbrell Thompkins: Undrafted rookie sat out the first day but has been impressive the last two practices, earning repetitions with the starting unit and catching everything that comes his way.

    OT Will Svitek: Valuable swing tackle took a few reps at left tackle today, likely in case Nate Solder ever goes down.

    CB Kyle Arrington: Intercepted Tom Brady on a deep pass and has looked strong playing both the outside and slot cornerback.


    G Dan Connolly: Hard to make the team when you can’t practice, and Connolly appears to be clearly running behind Marcus Cannon now.

    CB Ras-I Dowling: Never made a play on the ball in any of the 1-on-1 drills, and overall had a pretty brutal day in coverage working mostly with the second team.

    WR Michael Jenkins: Had a bad drop in team drills, and appears to be running behind Thompkins, Kamar Aiken and rookies Dobson and Josh Boyce.


    Another up-and-down day for Tebow throwing the ball. While the deep ball to Thompkins was nice, he again struggled to pull the trigger in the pocket, often waiting 5-7 seconds before finally dumping the ball off. He also threw a bad pass over the middle in 7-on-7 drills that should have been picked off by Steve Beauharnais, but was dropped.

    Tebow once again participated briefly as a receiver in the catch-and-run drills, and fans got on him a little bit when he overthrew Boyce on a throw in the flat. It was interesting to see offensive assistant Brian Daboll, who had been working mostly with the offensive line, working personally with Tebow during some drills. Daboll got a lot out of Colt McCoy in Cleveland and Matt Moore in Miami.

    At the end of practice, Tebow and Ryan Mallett stayed after to sign autographs for about 25 minutes. And every time Tebow tried to escape to the locker room, someone would ask him for a picture, and he would always oblige.

  6. tawk2 says:

    It’s so weird when Tim has a very off day, the media goes wild reporting and calling him horrendous. But when he has a somewhat better day and passes and connects for a 50 yard bomb caught and ends with a touchdown, you hear barely anything anywhere. What gives? I feel if you are going to report Tim having a rough time then you need to also report when he has a better day.

    So tired of this bias and hating media, always looking for the final straw to bring Tim down. Guess what Tim won’t be brought down, Tim will do great things in the NFL and in life, Go TEBOW we believe in you!

  7. Tisa says:

    Just remember, ya’ll, it’s what BB is thinking that matters and I see him working with TT to find him a place on his team- tune out the others and be patient.

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