Tim Tebow: Why the Patriots will keep him

Tim Tebow had a poor passing game against the Tampa Bay Bucs Friday. But there's a good case for keeping Tim Tebow as the Patriots' No. 3 quarterback.

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow runs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fourth quarter of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass.

Tim Tebow's pre-season passing performance with the New England Patriots has not been impressive.

And that's being generous.

Against the Tampa Bay Bucaneers Friday night, Tebow completed one of seven passing attempts, for a grand total of negative 1 yard. He rushed four times for 31 yards.

Against the Philadelphia Eagles the previous week, Tebow did a little better. He completed four of his 12 attempts for 55 yards. He was sacked three times.

But poor passing won't keep Tebow off the New England Patriots 53-man roster. Pats coach Bill Belichick will likely keep him anyway. No, not as a tight end. He will make the team as the Pats No. 3 quarterback.

Here's the case for keeping Tebow.

Belichick is giving every indication he wants Tebow on the team. After the poor performance against the Bucs at Gillette Stadium, Belichick didn't throw Tebow under the bus. When asked if he thought Tebow was improving, Belichick's response was "absolutely."

Chris Rolling at the Beacher Report makes a compelling argument for why Tebow won't get cut. It comes down to this: Belichick likes the idea of a good No. 3 quarterback. Tebow is a QB who's proven that he can win tough games.

Here's how Rolling puts it:

"Belichick loves his backups. He loved the skill set that [Matt] Cassel brought to the table and kept him in town as long as he could. That happened to be just long enough to almost guide the team to a playoff berth in Tom Brady's absence. 

Belichick tailored things to Cassel's particular set of skills when the worst-case scenario happened and that is what he is prepared to do with Tebow on the chance that something happens with him as well."

In fact, Friday night's game offered an interesting window on this thesis.

The reason Tebow got so much playing time was that the Pats No. 2 QB Ryan Mallett left the game at the end of the second quarter with a head injury. With Tom Brady tweaking his knee in practice this week, and Mallett leaving early, the idea of the Pats relying on their No. 3 QB suddenly became quite plausible.

Of course, the Patriots with Tebow at QB would run a different offense than the Pats behind either Brady or Mallett. It would have to look at lot like the Denver Broncos read-option offense. That's what Belichick intimated in an interview with WEEI earlier this week:

“Tim has had a lot of experience making those decisions — whether to give the ball to the back or keep it, or pitch it, all those kinds of things. It’s not really like we’re trying to teach him those things. He’s done it a lot. He has to refine the timing and so forth, but it creates just another thing to put pressure on the defense.”

Has Tim Tebow shown that he's a passing QB of the caliber of Brady or Mallett? No. But that won't matter. If the Patriots lose Brady and/or Mallett at some point during this season, Tebow may just give Belichick a viable option for getting the Pats to the playoffs.

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