The Tim Tebow show rolled into Foxborough on Tuesday, just a day after the news of his imminent signing broke. The NFL’s most polarizing figure inked a bargain-basement two-year deal with the Patriots and took the field as Bill Belichick’s third-string quarterback, eager to continue his NFL career under the tutelage of his biggest proponent in the pro game, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Critics and supporters alike agree that Tebow’s throwing is substandard for a starting NFL quarterback, but barring a Tom Brady injury, there’s zero chance that he’ll start in New England. So are his statistics subpar for a backup? A quick look at his passer rating shows that Tebow ranks 46th among 77 active quarterbacks with NFL playing experience (no minimums) at a middling 75.3. That puts him among the poor-starter-yet-solid-understudy class like Dan Orlovsky (76.0), Chad Henne (74.9) and David Carr (74.9). If you trust the rating system as a QB quality indicator, you can do a lot worse among the league’s signal-callers, a list that includes his 2012 Jets teammate Mark Sanchez (71.9), former Patriots backup Brian Hoyer (72.2), Mike Kafka, the man cut to clear a roster space for Tebow, (47.7) and current New England No. 2 man Ryan Mallett (5.2, lowest among all active QBs).
But every coach will tell you that individual statistics are meaningless and only one number matters: wins. Would you believe that the much maligned Tebow currently ranks eighth among quarterbacks in the 16-team AFC in career win-loss percentage as a starter? His .571 winning percentage is approximately the same rate enjoyed by another New York quarterback New England fans are all too familiar with, Eli Manning (.577). Some of the more notable strong-armed throwers below Tebow on that list include Jay Cutler (.548), Cam Newton (.406), Matthew Stafford (.378), and Sam Bradford (.369).
And before you dismiss Tebow’s winning percentage as merely a by-product of the teams he’s played on, consider this: In games he started over his first three pro seasons, Tebow’s teams were a respectable 8-6. In games that he watched the likes of Kyle Orton and Mark Sanchez start, those same Broncos and Jets squads combined for a pathetic 10-24 (.294). And don't discount that miraculous playoff victory against the Steelers which gave Tebow the same number of career postseason victories as Cutler, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo and Matt Schaub. as well as one more than Stafford, Andy Dalton and Carson Palmer combined.
During the reign of Tom Brady and that of Drew Bledsoe before him, the Patriots offense has often been a thing of beauty. Should Brady go down and Tebow is forced to step in, nobody in New England will complain if the Pats keep winning, but it's ugly.
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He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrateds 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.
Now living in Marblehead, hes focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.