And so it ends.
Tim Tebow, simultaneously one of the most popular and reviled figures in all of professional football, was cut from the New England Patriots on Saturday. Since coming to the league in 2010 (it honestly feels like Tebow’s been around forever), Tebow’s gone from highly desired prospect, to playoff hero, to castoff, to New York Jet (the lowest of the low), and finally signed on in the hopes of being the Pats’ third-string quarterback.
Now. I’ve gone on and on about how questionable a fit Tebow was on the Patriots and how, while his presence on the field would most likely be a non-factor, his presence off the field, as the media made him the NFL Truman Burbank, would be downright detrimental.
As it turns out, the latter point was a bit overblown. Yes, Tebow’s preseason performance was a constant topic of discussion. But it didn’t seem to have a negative effect at all. Everyone from Bill Belichick, to mentor Josh McDaniels, to Tom Brady, all praised Tebow’s work ethic and determination to help the team, first and foremost. Tebow himself was always humble with the press, always ducking away from questions about his personal aspirations, earnestly ascribing to the Belichick/Patriot Way. No one can say that Tebow didn’t give it his all.
And that’s the problem. As much effort as Tebow undoubtedly put into being a good teammate and into preparing for this season, his performance on the field just could not cut it. His numbers are rough: 11-30, 145 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT. Somehow his last game was his most impressive, going 6-11, 91 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT. But numbers can be misleading, there is some value in the eye test. And boy oh boy, did Tebow look bad on the field. His throws were consistently wobbly, underthrown, and inaccurate. His running game (16 att, 91 yards) wasn’t strong enough to truly consider him as a Wildcat option. And his instincts in the pocket weren’t enough, as he was sacked time and time again as the pocket collapsed and the ball didn’t leave his hand.
A big question that’s been bandied about has been whether this is the last stop of Tebow’s career. That seems like an insane question to ask about the 26-year-old quarterback who took the country by storm as a Florida Gator, and then had some impressive late game heroics as a Denver Bronco. But the truth of the matter is that Tebow may only be able to succeed in an offense tailored to highlight his strengths and cover up his weaknesses. And it doesn’t seem like there are any teams (Jacksonville? Oakland? Can we all chip in to see a Tebow/Smith/Sanchez QB battle PLEASE?) who are in a place to make such a huge bet, especially as Tebow’s physical and decision-making skills seem to be deteriorating over the last two years. Even the CFL, a league that demands a high-passing offense for success, won’t come calling. For what it’s worth, I hope Tebow does find a home, and he has made it clear he hasn’t given up on football.
So ends the latest chapter for a quarterback searching for his place in a brutalizing league and the team rocked by controversy that gave him a shot. The Patriots may not lose a quarterback who could have helped them on the field, but certainly a try-hard, high character individual. Shame it didn’t work out.