All everyone wants to know is what the Patriots plan to do with their new lefthanded Swiss Army knife, Tim Tebow.
Will he lead the team into uncharted waters as a wildcat QB? Will he show up in the backfield, behind Tom Brady as a fullback? Will he show off his pass catching ability, maybe as a tight end?
Will he be the team's backup quarterback? (What of Ryan Mallett?)
Daring to ask Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to specify one or the other is as humorous as it is useless. Thus feeds the Tebow fire. Therefore, we don't just term it a circus because what it is comes across as clear as stripes on a zebra.
It's a project. And one that Belichick is quite ready to take on, with all the hoopla that comes along for the ride. But it is one that has reasonable expectations, or aspirations, and low risk (2 years, base $1.36 million).
Why is that? Because there is reason to believe that Tebow can function in the Patriots offense in a subset of plays that will make him a useful addition. And although Tebow may be rated on the low end of mobile quarterbacks, no one is questioning his mobility, or the trend that is occurring in the NFL at his position.
Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Robert Griffin III, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, and Ryan Tannehill can all be considered mobile quarterbacks. It just so happens that four of those quarterbacks represent 33 percent of the league's 2012 playoff teams. Two others (Newton, Tannehill) are on the Patriots schedule. And that's not including Geno Smith, whom the Jets apparently view as a Tebow replacement.
(Jets coach Rex Ryan said this week that Smith will work in Tebow's old role as a sub-package quarterback, drawing the ire of skeptics.)
A sub-package quarterback. Let the term sink in. It's the only role that is plausible for the 25-year-old quarterback. His blocking was obviously not up to snuff in New York and that diminishes his value at fullback or tight end. And there is no guarantee that he can compete with others who have played the positions throughout their football careers.
Instead, consider Tebow as an option for the Patriots to widen their offensive playbook. And yes, that means veer into the realm of the wildcat.
While its use has been practically forsaken in New England, thanks to the team's prolific no-huddle, it can be an added wrinkle for Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to tinker with. The hope, of course, is that Tebow can be coached up enough to continue to be a dual threat.
Using Tebow as a sub-package quarterback is the only rational scenario in which he can and should be used. Outside of that, the Patriots should sit him or cut him.
So much confusion at WR
Colleague Ben Volin offered a fantastic overview in Thursday's Boston Globe on the Patriots wide receiver competition. Basically, Tom Brady is tossing the ball around to, as Volin phrased it, the "JV team." So many key players are rehabbing minor injuries.
But this provides a perfect opportunity to scrutinize where some players appear to land on the team's depth chart. We can compare, from previous practices at organized team activities, to now where players are expected to play and how they fall in order.
Here's what I suspect the Patriots have going so far:
X receiver (outside)
Z receiver (slot)
Of course, there's no way the team keeps 11 receivers. Dobson and Joyce, the two draft picks, are safe from the chopping block, as is Amendola. But everyone else has to fight for their job. Through OTAs and minicamp, we've seen that Michael Jenkins has been a fast riser on the depth chart. His routes have looked crisp and he's had a minimal number of drops. Same for Kamar Aiken, whose speed is quite impressive. But good camps may not even ensure them a 53-man roster spot.
With the way things have shaped up, these are the players I expect to make the roster, based on the team keeping a maximum six receivers for the regular season.
X receiver (outside)
Z receiver (slot)
I'm sure this projection will change as the team gets all of its players healthy and they put the pads on.
Tweet of the week
In the absence of Brandon Spikes' prolific Twitter usage, new wide receiver Donald Jones seems to have taken his place.
Think b4 you hit the send button on here. Many ppl will never get real major jobs bcuz of the way u tweet n the pictures u put on here.— Donald (@Dajones19) June 13, 2013
Boston.com reader tfd311 comments on the blog:
Can the Globe (and all media personnel, for that matter) stop writing articles about a third string quarterback that will likely have less impact than your run-of-the-mill special teams player? I have no desire to laud or tear down a player who from what I can see will have at best a minor contribution to the Patriot's successes or failures, but until the media gets the message that they should no longer waste time/ink/bandwidth on this, I plan to keep posting this same response every time I see another article/story taking up space.
OK, I'll start. Right … now.
- The Patriots are now off for the month with the conclusion of minicamp. The team won't return to Gillette Stadium until players report for training camp. Training camp isn't expected to start until the end of July, although the dates haven't been officially announced.
- However we do know training camp cut dates. The team will have trim its roster to 75 players Aug. 27 and down to the final 53 by Aug. 31.
- The Patriots open the season Sunday Sept. 8 in Buffalo. We're only 87 days away