The Other Quarterback

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The Other Quarterback

Over the last day and a half, Tim Tebows received an unbelievable amount of attention for his performance in Denvers upset over the Steelers.

This is due in large part to the fact that Tim Tebow is Tim Tebow. Hes a guy so polarizing and popular that the NFL could choreograph a halftime show around him blowing his nose, and the footage would probably lead SportsCenter for three days. (On top of that, the snot would be extracted to help find a cure for acne, and the used-tissue would be sold on eBay for enough money to build churches along the entire Chilean seaboard.)

But another reason for all the attention is that the performance itself 316 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 125.6 rating was pretty amazing. Obviously, in comparison to the garbage with which Tebow typically fills the box score, but even in general, the performance was real. On Sunday, Tebow proved (again) that he belongs on the NFL stage. Hate him for all he is off the field, but you have to respect what he did on it. His 316 yards (albeit on only 10 completions) against the (albeit beat up) Steelers 'D', were the most Pittsburgh's given up since Tom Brady threw for 350 in Week 10 of last season.

On that note, I had an idea. Or more, I was curious: How did Tebows day in Denver compare to some of the best playoff performances of Bradys career?

The results were surprising.

As it turns out, in 19 career playoff games, Bradys thrown for more than 316 yards only twice. Hes topped Tebows 125.6 rating only twice. And while Bradys thrown at least two touchdowns in 10 of those 19 games, hes thrown more than two only three times. And on only five occasions has he thrown two or more TDs and complimented them with zero interceptions.

(From the It's Not Fair to Compare category: 1. Tebow ran for 50 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Brady's run for 77 yards and two touchdowns in his playoff career. 2. Tebow's 47.6 completion percentage against Pittsburgh would rank 20th behind all 19 of Brady's playoff starts and that includes one game played in a snow globe, another played in subzero temperatures and three in which the refs were paid off by Bill Polian)

Anyway, those two stats aside, it was still shocking to find that Tebow's day ranks among some of the best playoff performances of Brady's career. In fact, it makes no sense at all. What does this say about Tebow? About Brady? About the world as we know it?

Maybe that playoffs stats are overrated? Maybe that Brady's recent regular season explosiveness has clouded the fact that he's never been or needed to be an explosive, stat-driven playoff QB? (Or maybe those two questions answer each other?)

It's no secret that the Patriots have historically achieved the most when Brady's been at his worst. "Worst" is a relative term here, and of course there are other factors in play, but statistically, Bradys two worst seasons were 2001 and 2003, and 2004 wasnt far behind. However, they all resulted in a ring.

Some in the football world have used this information as a platform to suggest that the recent spike in Brady's statistics are a detriment to the Pats long term success. That it breeds style of football non-conducive to winning down the stretch. The argument isn't without its merits, but in general I disagree. While there's no denying that the Pats (or at least earlier versions) showed an ability to win without Brady racking up stats, I don't see how anyone can say that the Pats can't win on the strength of Brady's arm.

Why? Because if not for 15 different things that happened, independent of Brady, four years ago in Arizona, that whole argument would be moot. It's just not fair to say that the Pats can't win that way. But the same time, to say they haven't won under those conditions is absolutely true, and entirely unfortunate.

As far as I'm concerned, that's the major storyline surrounding Brady this postseason. While he's shown in the past that he can lead the Pats to the Promise Land without dropping big time stats, there's the perception that, with this team, racking up the yards is the only way he can lead them there. And for all Brady's accomplished over the last 11 years, consistent, big time playoffs statistics are not one of them. In that sense, he still has a lot to prove. And his ability to do so, will likely shape the narrative for the home stretch of his career.

Listen, I understand why Tim Tebow has gotten so much attention these last two days, and I understand why it will continue to trend that way all week, while one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time still in his prime lurks in the background; barely talked about and relatively unnoticed. After all, what more can anyone say about Tom Brady that hasn't been said already? We ran out of things to say about him five years ago.

With Tebow, it's like the sports world got its hands on the beta version of some new age technology. He's something we've never seem before, and still don't understand. We know there are flaws, but we can't decide whether, or how much, they're out-weighed by the unprecedented benefits. With every test-drive we find out more. We're obsessed with finding out more, and finally getting to the bottom of one of the most polarizing and complex sports debates in quite some time: Basically, how good is Tim Tebow?

On the other hand, we know how good Tom Brady is. There no mystery to anything he does. In many ways, he's a victim of his unparalleled success and consistency. He's the quirky painting you bought at a garage sale 10 years ago for 15 bucks, only to later find out it's actually an early Renaissance portrait with an estimated value of 15M. It's been hanging on the wall ever since. It's there every day. And as great and valuable and irreplaceable as it might be, it's only natural to get distracted.

Especially when a once in a generation piece of machinery like Tebow rolls into the forefront.

But while the rest of the country feasts on the overwhelming obsession with all things Tebow, here in New England, we'll remember that our own quarterback still has few questions to answer and doubters to disprove. And that if he performs at the level we all know he's capable of, it won't matter what Tim Tebow does.

The Broncos will be heading home.

In which case, maybe the NFL can squeeze a few minutes of Tebow blowing his nose into the halftime show?

The world's probably more interested in that that they are Madonna.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Rules changes are in: Field-goal leap, crackback blocks banned

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Rules changes are in: Field-goal leap, crackback blocks banned

PHOENIX -- The NFL has announced which rules, bylaw and resolution proposals passed following Tuesday's vote at the Arizona Biltmore. The full list is below, but here are a couple of the noteworthy changes from a Patriots perspective . . . 

* That leap-the-line play that Jamie Collins and Shea McClellin have executed for the Patriots over the course of the last two seasons? That's been prohibited, as expected. The league did not want coaches to be responsible for putting a player in a position where he may suffer a head or neck injury. (Which is different from a player putting himself in that position with a split-second decision to leave his feet mid-play.)

* Receivers running pass routes can now be considered "defenseless." That means that even within the five-yard "chuck" area beyond the line of scrimmage, receivers will have some measure of protection. The Patriots, like many teams, have called for linebackers to disrupt the routes of shallow crossers, which can lead to monster hits on unexpecting players. Those types of collisions may now be fewer and farther between.

* Crackback blocks are now prohibited by a player who is in motion, even if the player is not more than two yards outside the tackle box at the snap. What's the Patriots connection here? It seems as though the overtime play that won Super Bowl LI -- during which Julian Edelman came in motion and "cracked" down on corner Brian Poole -- is now illegal. We'll look for clarification on this when the league holds its press conference describing the rules changes later on Tuesday.

Approved 2017 Playing Rules Proposals

2a. By Philadelphia; Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays. (Final language will be available on NFLCommunications.com)  

8.   By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. 

9.   By Competition Committee; Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only. 

11. By Competition Committee; Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection. 

12. By Competition Committee; Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped. 

13. By Competition Committee; Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews. 

14. By Competition Committee; Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock. 

15. By Competition Committee; Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.

Approved 2017 Bylaw Proposals

4.     By Competition Committee; Liberalizes rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club’s facility for one year only. 

5.     By Competition Committee; Changes the procedures for returning a player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness to the Active List to be similar to those for returning a player that was Designated for Return.  

6.     By Competition Committee; The League office will transmit a Personnel Notice to clubs on Sundays during training camp and preseason.

Approved 2017 Resolution Proposal

G-4.     By Competition Committee: Permits a contract or non-contract non-football employee to interview with and be hired by another club during the playing season, provided the employer club has consented.

Bowles on if Revis can still compete physically: 'I don't know for sure'

Bowles on if Revis can still compete physically: 'I don't know for sure'

PHOENIX -- Todd Bowles wasn't asked if he thinks Darrelle Revis can be a All-Pro level player. He wasn't asked if Revis has it in him to be a No. 1 corner again.

The bar was much lower. 

Can Revis, who will be 32 at the start of next season, still be a serviceable player? Does he have the physical ability to be competitive?

Bowles should know. He coached Revis with the Jets each of the last two years. But his answer was far from definitive.

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"If he goes ahead and proves it, yeah he does," Bowles said during the AFC coaches breakfast on Tuesday. "But we'll see. I don't know for sure. I can't answer that. Only he can."

It's been a remarkable fall from grace for Revis, who re-signed with the Jets as a free agent after winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots. He was given $39 million fully guaranteed and went on to make the Pro Bowl in his first season back.

Last year, however, he had his worst season and was arguably among the worst full-time corners in the league. Quarterbacks completed almost two-thirds of their passes sent in his direction, and they had a rating of 104.2 when targeting the player formerly known as Revis Island.

"I love the guy. I love the player," Bowles said. "He didn't have a great year, but we didn't have a great season so he wasn't the only one. It's all about coming back and proving you can still do it every year. That can only be answered when you come back and do it."

The Jets released him earlier this offseason despite the fact that he's guaranteed $6 million by the team whether he plays in 2017 or not.

Now that Revis is looking for a job, New England has been cited by some as the most logical place for him to land. Asked about the potential of having Revis back, Patriots owner Robert Kraft told the New York Daily News on Monday that he'd be all for it.

“I would love it," Kraft said. "Speaking for myself, if he wanted to come back, he’s a great competitor, I’d welcome him if he wanted to come.”

At this point, however, a reunion seems unlikely. 

The Patriots are looking at the potential of having Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones all on the roster at corner next season -- though there is some question as to whether or not Butler will stick. 

And if Revis is hoping to make a move to safety, he'd probably have a hard time finding playing time as part of a group that will include Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Patrick Chung. 

Then there's the question as to his motivation. After winning a Super Bowl, and after making as much money as he's made, with an easy $6 million more staring him in the face, will Revis be ready to re-adapt to the demands of playing in New England?

Even if he is, there could very well be physical limitations impacting Revis' effectiveness moving forward. Bowles acknowledged that for some at Revis' age who play his position, the drop-off can come quickly.

"Sometimes it can. Sometimes it can't," Bowles said. "Every story is different. You have to write your own so he has to write his."