FOXBORO -- Tim Tebow got another chance at forward progress in New England's preseason game against Tampa Bay. Starter Tom Brady came out after two series, and backup quarterback Ryan Mallett went to the bench with over 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
Unfortunately, the 26-year old moved backwards. Last week, Tebow completed 4 of 12 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown, and rushing for 31 yards against Philadelphia. This Friday? Negative yardage. The quarterback's stat line featured 1-for-7 passing for -1 yards, an interception, and a 0.0 quarterback rating.
His entrance into the game won hearty cheers, but the boo birds swooped in before long.
Tebow, though eternally optimistic, admitted he's frustrated as well.
"You want to try and score every time you get the ball. You want to make every throw. You want to get your team into the right call every play and as a competitor, you want to do your best and play to the best of your abilities and have it all go right and sometimes it doesn’t and you just have to keep going.”
He steered clear of evaluating his own performance.
"That’s definitely not my job," the QB said after the game. "I just got to go out there and play as hard as I can and try to improve and get better and I’ll let a lot of smarter people grade us and judge us."
That's where things get interesting. How will the Patriots brass score this one? Are coaches seeing enough work and will to improve during the week to stash Tebow on the roster?
He believes he's better than the numbers indicate.
“I feel like I’m improving every day and you know, growing and learning, and learning the offense. That’s what it’s about – every day trying to get a little better.”
It's all well in good if Tebow is getting better with his drops, timing, and making calls. But New England isn't running a clinic for struggling quarterbacks; the team has rolled the dice on having just two on the roster for three of the last four seasons. If an exception is made, it will have to be worth their while.
For his part, Tebow is keeping his chin up and his eyes clear. There are two more games, two more opportunities, before the roster gets its final shave.
“I worry about what I can control, not listening to outside influences and worrying about what I can’t control. It’s my attitude and my effort and getting better every day and just staying focused.”