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Tim Tebow should be cut by Patriots, but he won’t be

Posted by Adam Kaufman  August 25, 2013 10:53 PM

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Not-so-breaking news: Tim Tebow is not a football player. He’s a freakin’ traffic light.

News cycles start and stop at the mere mention of Tebow’s name for a bevy of reasons, including his historic college career, a lightning-in-a-bottle stretch with the Broncos, a fan-following that many rock stars would envy and, equally significant, he’s a nice guy who seems sincere when he says he’s just “blessed” to be the third-string quarterback on the Patriots, fighting for his job.

Well, finally, the nearly three-month long debate of “Will Tebow make the team, or won’t he?” is closing in on a resolution. There’s no need to constantly refresh Twitter just yet but we’re getting there.

The Pats must trim their roster from 84 players to 75 by Tuesday, and Tebow will most certainly survive this round. In a worst-case scenario, he’s a serviceable body capable of taking a bunch of snaps and absorbing some hits on Thursday when his club wraps up its preseason with the Giants. After that, it’s a crapshoot.

Most pundits expect the wannabe NFL QB to be cut before New England finalizes its 53-man opening day roster on Saturday. I remain thickheaded in my belief that he’s not going anywhere … even if he should.

In two preseason appearances, Tebow has completed 5-of-19 passes for 54 yards while managing to look even worse. On the plus side, he’s also scampered for 61 yards on 10 carries. Considering the constant complaints over his lack of accuracy, poor decision-making, inability to read defenses, and the fact that he holds the ball too long, it’s fitting that he’s accumulated more yards on the ground than in the air. To this point, he’s arguably failed to reach what were already very low expectations. Remember, literally no other team offered him a job. Too bad the Jets couldn’t predict the future. Which way would Rex Ryan face while discussing Tebow?

If Tebow was most anyone else, any other anonymous third-stringer, there wouldn’t be a question as to whether he would break camp with the team. It also wouldn’t be a story. Because of who he is – the sizable entity that he is – folks care. Millions of people care, far more than the 2.4 million who follow him on Twitter. For that reason, I’ve been trying to care since he arrived.

I get the appeal. Tebow’s “aww shucks” persona, his dedication to his faith, his incomparable work-ethic, and his ability to get along with his teammates are respectable if not desirable qualities, but they don’t matter as much as his knack to contribute when, as they say, his number is called. To me, he’s a nameless player on the field and, like most people since 2011, I’m waiting to see … something. Thursday night may be that final test, and he’ll likely get ample opportunity.

Along with his lack of productivity, it’s important to remember the simple value of an NFL roster spot. With the injuries that have and will continue to pile up during camp, it’s more than reasonable to allocate the third-string quarterback’s spot to someone who is either more deserving or just more useful. Other positions could use the depth, unless the Pats truly hold an extreme lack of faith in Ryan Mallett as a suitable option in the event (gasp) something happened to Tom Brady. We’ve already had that scare once.

Plus, if Rob Gronkowski doesn’t wind up on the PUP list for six weeks – though I think he will – then he’ll occupy what’s essentially an empty spot until he’s ready to play. With Tebow on the roster but not on the field, at least as a QB, that would be two wasted spots.

So, why would he stay?

Bill Belichick.

The future Hall of Fame head coach is a stubborn man who doesn’t care what most people think, including you and me. It’s contributed to his triumphs as a coach, just as it has his failures. What he’s thinking here is a wonder, but Tebow is no different a football player than when he was signed. The team knew what it was getting and, presumably, it wasn’t just a guy to play nice with Aaron Hernandez.

You have to imagine Belichick has a plan for Tebow but, beyond an expanded playbook, we’ve yet to see it displayed in a game or even a practice. Of course, we don’t have to. The organization’s priority is and should be building a winning team, not keeping the media abreast of their plans along the way. In any other business, the Pats’ successful track record would silence the critics. Alas, benefit of the doubt generally doesn’t exist in sports.

As I’ve written in this space before, it wouldn’t be out of Belichick’s character to be motivated by the idea of proving throngs of doubters wrong while showing that a former Florida standout can be a valuable resource in some capacity that seemingly goes beyond holding a clipboard, whether in 2013 or down the line. He also doesn’t like to admit when he’s made a mistake. Remember how long it took him to give up on Chad Ochowhateverhisnameis?

The coach could also be throwing offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels a bone, as he’s done so many times already. We all know McDaniels’ obsession with Tebow dating back to when the then-Denver head coach traded up to draft him. Admittedly, I like the opposing conspiracy theory that Belichick is on a mission to confirm for McDaniels that it’s time to move on from the Tebow idea by demonstrating, as he has so far in camp, that lightning won’t strike twice.

Again, going against conventional wisdom, I expect Tim Tebow to be a member of the Patriots when the regular season begins on Sept. 8 in Buffalo. That doesn’t mean he’ll see the field for a single snap, or even be active for any games, but Tebowmania is not dead in Foxborough. Not yet, and we’re all still waiting to find out why.

Follow me on Twitter at @AdamMKaufman

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About this blog

Adam Kaufman is a writer and broadcaster who can also be heard regularly on 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ NewsRadio 1030, the national CBS Sports Radio Network, and broadcasting Boston College hockey games. The Massachusetts native is a Syracuse grad and a pop culture fanatic who offers a unique and entertaining look at your favorite Boston sports teams. Please don't hold his love for Jean-Claude Van Damme movies against him.

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