The release of Tim Tebow will dominate discussion on Saturday, but really, what is there to say?
Based on how well he played the game this summer, he was the easiest release to make.
“Doing what’s best for the football team” can take many forms, but keeping a player around simply because he’s an exceedingly good human being who can do nothing on the field better than the players ahead of him would have been an embarrassment.
So endeth the speculation. And the proclamations.
Less than a month ago, Ben Volin wrote in the Boston Globe, “Here’s a news flash for anyone who thinks Tim Tebow is battling for a roster spot with the Patriots and may not make the team come September: Tebow isn’t going anywhere.”
Here’s another news flash. If you speak in absolutes about what the Patriots will do, start working on your backpedal. You’ll be needing it.
Hell, I’m doing that regarding the release of Zoltan Mesko. My read was that he’d choked out his competition, undrafted rookie Ryan Allen.
It wasn’t that Allen didn’t punt well. He was outstanding. But the combination of Mesko’s experience as a holder, his know-how on plus-50 punts (which the Patriots often need to execute) and his directional punting was enough to convince me he was safe. When Allen didn’t punt until late in Thursday’s preseason finale, I figured the Patriots might try to keep him out of sight, release him and then sign him to the practice squad.
The savings the Patriots will realize by releasing Mesko and keeping Allen is about $900,000. Decent money and certainly enough to make the decision to release Mesko easier if all things are perceived as equal.
When it comes to intangibles – off-field impact on the community, locker room chemistry – Mesko is off the charts. But – as with Tebow – football ability has to be the tiebreaker and special teams coach Scott O’Brien must have seen more upside to Allen. And Mesko did not have a very good season in 2012, especially in the early part of the year.
The role that could prove worrisome is holder. Allen will, presumably, take over that role. Belichick and O’Brien have been around long enough to know that blown field goals and extra points in critical situations end seasons. The pressure to make sure the kicking game remains as strong with Mesko gone is high.