The Patriots’ plans for Tim Tebow still aren’t known, and may never be until those plans are executed.
For now, the word is that Tebow will be a quarterback — and only a quarterback.
Ed Werder of ESPN, who broke the news that Tebow is heading to New England, reports that Tebow will join the team as the third quarterback, spending all of his time practicing with quarterbacks and meeting with quarterbacks.
He becomes the third-string quarterback behind Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett, and while the Pats typically carry only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, Werder reports that Tebow will stay if he performs well in camp.
That’s a huge if. Tebow never performs well in camp or in practice. Two years ago, he at one point slid to the fourth spot on the Broncos’ depth chart. He was third when the Broncos ignored his performances in situations that don’t count and made him the starter in front of Brady Quinn.
Thus, Tebow needs to quickly realize that every rep of every practice now becomes the fourth quarter of a close game. Whatever he finds in those moments of desperation he needs to bring constantly, or he’ll be gone.
Meanwhile, we’re not prepared to accept that Tebow will only be a quarterback until a season goes by without Tebow showing up as a tight end, running back, fullback, personal punt protector, or other special-teams contributor. Belichick’s military-style secrecy, forged by his father’s years at the Naval Academy, meshes perfectly with the notion that they’ll trot out Tebow as a secret weapon in the perfect moment.
For maximum impact, the opponent has to not see it coming. And so the Pats need to sell the con by leaking to the media that it’ll never happen.
Indeed, history tells us that, when it comes to these Patriots, we only know what they want us to know. They want us to know Tebow is only a quarterback. Which will make Tebow even more effective as something other than a quarterback if/when it ever happens.