PHILADELPHIA –- Opportunity knocked for Tim Tebow Friday night in Philadelphia.
Tebow opened the door, stared opportunity down, then threw a pass 5 yards over opportunity’s head. Incomplete.
The latest -– and perhaps final –- stop on Tebow’s NFL adventure is with the Patriots. Friday night, he got his chance late in the first half when Ryan Mallett hit the deck with a head injury.
Playing the final two series of the first half, Tebow came out of the gates throwing high and incomplete to the left flat then just missed tight end Zach Sudfeld for what would have been a decent gain down the seam. On third down, he was sandwiched by a fleet of rushers.
Tebow had one more drive before the end of the half and, after throwing incomplete on first down, was able to complete a screen to Leon Washington for 15 yards as time expired.
Coming out of halftime, Mallett was sidelined with a head injury so it was Tebow’s party the rest of the way.
It was interesting. He picked up a first down on a third-and-8 play with a designed run that went for 12 yards. After a sack and another screen completion, LeGarrette Blount ran for 14 yards on consecutive plays and got the Patriots into the end zone with a 1-yard run.
On the Patriots second drive of the half, New England went to a Tebow package. Running a reverse wishbone with Tebow in shotgun, running backs on either side of him and a deep man motioned in behind Tebow, the Patriots ran the option.
Tebow ran for 19 yards on his first two carries against the Eagles second and third-stringers, then did a nice job keeping a play alive to make a completion to Kamar Aiken for 15 yards.
But the drive sputtered after that as Tebow was slow to make decisions when standing in the pocket, his cleats tapping as he scanned and twitched before making a choice.
Tebow finished 4-of-12 for 55 yards, with four rushes for 31 yards. Three of his four completions were either screens or short lobs.
Bill Belichick said Tebow was due to enter the game at about the time he replaced Mallett.
Asked specifically about Tebow, Belichick spoke generally.
“It’s all about the same,” he began. “We did some good things out there but we were far from perfect and we’ll all improve it. That’s true of myself, the coaches, the players. We played competitively but we all made mistakes out there. … There’s plenty we can improve on. All of us. I’m not singling anybody out. We’re all in that boat.”
On one hand, it’s reasonable to say that Tebow is still learning and this was his first preseason game. On the other hand, he has been in the league since 2010 and has been a starter. It shouldn’t look like he’s trying to decipher the Dead Sea Scrolls every time he plants his back foot and looks downfield for a receiver. And that’s not even broaching the issue of accuracy. Tebow has none. Even after tens of thousands of throws and months of tutoring, he still couldn’t hit the water while standing at the end of a dock.
The relevance, then, seems to be as a wrinkle quarterback. A gadget guy. One for whom defenses must account for and spend practice time. At this point.
Unless Tebow radically improves as a thrower and a decision-maker between now and next week, the conclusion is simple. Same Tebow. Different address.