EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 18, 2013

Tebow did nothing to quell doubters

Bill Burt
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — There was only one reason to watch many future bartenders playing football in the second half of the New England Patriots’ exhibition home opener on Friday night.

Tim Tebow.

The guy is interesting and, when he’s not playing football, very likeable.

Well, Friday night was another shot in the dark, another 30 minutes of football when he could confound the experts who say he can’t play quarterback in the National Football League.

Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett were done. Brady was Brady, completing 11 of 12 passes over two possessions, and Mallett was Mallett, inconsistent but showing signs his arm if very strong (12-for-20, 137 yards, 1 TD).

The stage was set, on a platter, for Tebow to, at least, look decent. Complete a few passes, run for a few first downs, maybe get in the end zone once and then call it a day.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Well, it was asking too much, apparently, as Tebow looked like the guy all of his naysayers said he was ... an awful thrower of the football.

Tebow’s stat line is one of the worst I’ve ever seen for a quarterback not named Mark Sanchez: 1-for-7, minus-1 yard, 1 interception.

What was worse than the stat line was watching him throw the ball, oftentimes with zero chance of completing. I found myself excited, Tebow back to pass ... he looks left ... he looks right ... he rolls left and slings the ball 10 yards down the field to, well, no one.

The ball hits the turf with a receiver not within 10 yards. Talk about a downer.

Tebow did rush for 30 yards on six carries, but we’ve always known running, cutting and grinding his way down field is his forte.

Before everyone writes Tebow off, and wishes he’d go to the CFL or something, understand his role here, which Patriots coach Bill Belichick slightly alluded to last week.

“He’s a running quarterback,” said Belichick.

Yes, and a pretty good one. And his legs and athletic ability may supersede his throwing ability. And there might be some opportunities, like on two-point conversions or 4th-and-1, when he could find the first down marker and then leave the field.

We have to give Tebow a smidgen of latitude here.

This is a new team with a new system — he hardly touched the ball as a rookie with Josh McDaniels in Denver (three starts). And the pressure of being around Brady must be daunting.

After the game, Tebow was asked to assess his performance. I don’t blame the questioner, but does Tebow need to say anything about what he did Friday night? No. He stunk and every person who saw the game or boxscore know that.

Tebow chose not to answer the question, but his non-answer said enough.

The good news about Tebow from Friday night? Few, if any people, expect anything from him as a quarterback. And, he has no place to go but up.

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.