Yesterday Tim Tebow arrived, and the difference in his arrival to New England compared to his arrival to New York demonstrates how different his role here will be. Last year Tebow had his own press conference when he was introduced as a member of the Jets. Yesterday he briefly spoke with the media, gave a stock "happy to be here" statement that I'm sure was prepared beforehand and given Belichick's blessing (pardon the religious pun). And let's also remember that Rex Ryan didn't seem to want Tebow on his team. I'm sure Belichick does, or he wouldn't be here.
I know it's a little weird to talk about a football player playing football, and not talk about media circuses and the Gospels, but let's try. Here are some situations in which Tim Tebow could be a good player to have on the field:
The Jets used him as a protector on their punt team. It makes sense. Not only is he a big guy, but he's a threat for fakes. Both running and passing. Even if you don't fake, the opposing team must respect the possibility, and that might mean their return isn't as focused on blocking.
Again, for the potential to fake.
Short Yardage/Goal Line:
You line Brady up under center. Brady's as good as it gets at the QB sneak. You also line Tebow up as a tailback. Or even a fullback with Ridley or Vereen as the tailback. So as Brady moves under center, if the sneak doesn't look like a good option, he can hand it off to Tebow. Or fake a handoff to Tebow and go play-action and throw it to Gronk or Hernandez. Or hand off to Ridley/Vereen and have Tebow block. Or have Tebow run in the opposite direction of the ball and fake out the defense. Tebow will draw attention when he's on the field.
The traditional fullback is an endangered species. Belichick has frequently used players from other positions to fill the role, from linebackers to tight-ends. There are very few times when this need arises, short-yardage is one of those times. So is running out the clock late in games (which the Patriots don't do in the traditional way).
There are times that require powerbacks and fullbacks. Vereen (205 pounds) is not a powerback. Ridley isn't much of one either (220 pounds). Tebow weighs 236. He's strong. He can be the fill-in fullback.
This one seems far-fetched. The Patriots have Gronkowski and Ballard. Hernandez is kind of a slot guy, but still a tight-end. Tebow could be used as a 3rd tight-end, again in short yardage situations. I have no idea how well he can catch. You don't want a guy bobbling the ball when defenders are all around him, eager to snatch up a loose ball for an interception. I have to see Tebow's hands before wanting him to play any tight-end.
Josh McDaniels got a little too clever with his trick plays last year. He loved using Edelman in crazy reverses and option runs. I hope McDaniels doesn't get overly creative with Tebow trickery. There are moments for trick plays. Two-point conversions, for instance, are a great time to line up Tebow and Brady next to each other in shotgun formation and get weird.
So with Tebow, you fill up some of the lower slots on your depth-chart. #3 QB, #3/#4 RB, #3/#4 TE, and he holds, and he plays on the punt team, and he's in jumbo packages.
Does he put you over the top? No. And we don't even know how many, if any, of these tasks he'll be able to carry out. But there are potential roles he can play. He can be like Steve Buscemi or Paul Giamatti, parts of the supporting cast that are only in a few scenes and help add texture and depth to the movie. So just imagine Steve Buscemi, only with the paparazzi following of Kristen Stewart combined with Lindsay Lohan.
But didn't Ichiro have a huge media following when he played in Seattle? And did the Boston Sports Media worry as much over the media attention that Daisuke Matsuzaka was going to bring with him? I think we're witnessing the media overreacting to the impact that the media's overreacting will have on a team. This is the media's version of Inception.