Tebow stays level-headed under major spotlight


Tebow stays level-headed under major spotlight

FOXBORO -- Tim Tebow isn't changing for anybody.

Entering Sunday's game against the Patriots, opinions -- positive and negative -- about the way the Denver Broncos quarterback carries himself and his religion have been heard from just about anyone who has knowledge of the NFL.

Even those who aren't fans of the sport have weighed in. So his impact has been made.

But the bigger story may be the way that Tebow has handled all of the criticism.

"It says a lot about him," said Broncos coach John Fox in Wednesday's conference call. "The criticism all hasn't been good, that's for sure. And I think he's handled it as well as anybody I've ever been around."

From his publicly displayed religious beliefs, to his quarterbacking style, Fox is right. Not much of it has been good. But Tebow finds a way to ignore most of the noise, mainly because it's out of his control.

"I've honestly done my best to try to just stay clear of it, and not pay too much attention, and not listen to too much of it," said Tebow on Wednesday. "It's obviously hard. It's hard to get that far away from it. But something I learned when I was pretty young at Florida, was not to worry about what I can't control. And that's something that I can't control.

"So I think my biggest focus is every day, trying to be the best teammate, trying to honor the Lord with how I play and how I live, and trying to work to be a better quarterback, a better teammate, be focused, and have a great attitude. That's really been my outlook on everything, and not necessarily what people are saying about me. And I thank the Lord that I don't have to live the roller coaster that other people say about my life."

So as critics speak about his faith, Tebow uses that faith to block out the naysayers. But when asked if his faith has gotten stronger, in the face of the largest amount of adversity he's ever faced in the game of football, Tebow admitted that it was the first time that question had been asked.

"I'm not sure," said Tebow. "I hope so. I pray that it is. Because I think that whatever you're going through in your life, you continue to grow as a person in your faith, and for me as a Christian, trying to grow closer to the Lord, and continuing to try to strengthen my faith. And one way you definitely strengthen your faith is through obstacles, through adversity, and there's definitely been some of that. So that definitely strengthens your faith.

"And then also something that strengthens your faith is sometimes when you have praise or things go good, how you handle it. And I think for me, one of my biggest prayers is, win or lose, good or bad, I'm the same guy. I honor the Lord either way. I treat people the exact same. And I'm not changing, no matter what happens. I think that's one of my biggest prayers."

Brissett sees room for improvement but feels he's 'moving in the right direction'


Brissett sees room for improvement but feels he's 'moving in the right direction'

HOUSTON -- It wasn't the mechanics of his throwing motion that he was concerned about. For Jacoby Brissett, it was the way in which he was seeing the Texans defense, the length of time it took to get a feel for the game, and how his night ended that bothered him. 

"I felt like I was getting my rhythm," Brissett said after the Patriots lost their exhibition with the Texans on Saturday, 23-20. "But you can't really remember all that stuff when the last play happens like that. It's the last one."


Though the outcome of the game meant nothing, Brissett and his teammates were looking for a game-winning touchdown with less than a minute left when Brissett had the ball knocked from his hands and out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. 

Brissett's night finished up with him going 5-for-10 for 36 yards. He was sacked twice and pressured on seven of his 15 drop-backs. 

The reserves playing for the Texans in the fourth quarter made life difficult for Brissett and his teammates as their first two drives resulted in punts. Brissett was hit twice on those drives, and his first third-down attempt failed when Houston sniffed out a screen. The Patriots had what looked like a third-and-21 conversion on their next sequence, but Devin Lucien bobbled a catch deep over the middle of the field that fell incomplete. 

Brissett seemed to make a couple of relatively difficult throws during his time on the field -- he nearly had a game-winning touchdown pass completed to Cody Hollister on a fade to the back corner of Houston's end zone, but Hollister got just one foot in-bounds -- yet he wished he could have done more to spark the Patriots offense quickly.

"I think I'm throwing the ball good," he said. "I don't think that's the issue. I think it's more so just my eyes and the timing of everything. I don't think it's throwing -- actually throwing. I think it's the mechanics of playing the game."

There was some good to be taken from Brissett's brief outing. After taking over possession with less than two minutes left, he helped the Patriots get deep into Texans territory with completions to Lucien, Sam Cotton and a third-down strike to DJ Foster. He also avoided a near sack, getting out of bounds to stop the clock, and he wisely spiked the football into the turf when he realized Houston had figured out another screen was coming.

Brissett looked back on where the third-team offense was at the start of camp -- with players like receivers Tony Washington and KJ Maye having just been added to the roster -- and pointed out that he felt they were significantly ahead of where they were then.

"I think we've gotten a lot better," Brissett said. "Just this two-minute drive is a good example. Last week we didn't make it past, what, the 40-yard line [against Jacksonville]? This week we're in the red zone with a chance to win the game. I think a lot of our young guys are stepping up and making plays and we're getting a little continuity together."

As for Brissett himself? The 2016 third-round pick has been the subject of some media speculation as to whether or not his spot on the 53-man roster is safe. After seeing some inconsistency in his play during camp practices and last week's game against the Jaguars, there were those who wondered if he was progressing at a rate that would help him survive this year's cutdown date. 

Asked to give a self-evaluation after the Texans game, Brissett said, "I definitely want to do more and play better, but there are good things getting done, good learning experiences. Moving in the right direction . . . 

"I feel like I'm still getting better. I think I'm doing good things. I mean, this league is hard. You just continue to work on things and continue to get better. Yeah, [tonight] the end result is a loss, but there were some good things we did out there. Some things it's good to get on film and learn from. It's a learning experience. That's what this is right now."

Whether the coaching staff sees the improvement Brissett described is unclear. 

"We've all got a long way to go," Belichick said following Saturday's game when asked about Brissett's progress. "I don't think anybody's where we need to be. Any player. Any coach. Any anybody . . . Just grinding it out. It's going to take a while."

Brissett insisted that coaches have been just as tight-lipped behind the scenes when it comes to how they've seen him grow summer. 

"I don't know what they think," Brissett said with a smile. "They don't tell me . . . I'm putting my best foot forward. It's up to them if they think I've been getting better or not."