Brace yourselves, New England.
Tebow-Mania is heading your way.
Today the Patriots confirmed yesterday's rumours that they have indeed signed Quarterback Tim Tebow on a two-year contract. He will immediately enter a competition with Ryan Mallett to be Tom Brady's back-up for the upcoming season during training camp. This has come as somewhat of a surprise, as just last week it was stated that Belichick and the Pats had no interest in Tebow whatsoever.
The Patriot organisation has clearly had a rethink and are willing to give the former Heisman trophy winner another shot in the NFL, following a harrowing season with the New York Jets, leading to his release when the team drafted West Virginia Quarterback Geno Smith in the second round of the NFL Draft.
There hasn't been a player in living memory who has divided opinion like Tebow. You either love him or loathe him, there is no in-between. He was an absolute sensation at Florida during his college career, making him one of the highest profile athletes in America. He was a two-time All-American, a two-time BCS National Champion, three-time All-SEC selection and, of course, winner of the 2007 Heisman Trophy. Add to that, he holds the school and SEC records for rushing touchdowns, had the best pass completion in SEC history (67.1%) and had the best touchdown-to-interception ratio ever (5.5-1).
Tebow left college as one of the most decorated NCAAF players in living memory and he was a household name before he had even got to the pro ranks. Despite his success, there were serious doubts raised by many as to whether Tebow's style of play would make the transition to the NFL. Draft analysts were divided, some giving him a first round grade, others wouldn't draft him until the fifth round.
His throwing motion and footwork were under the most scrutiny. Tebow hadn't run a pro-style offense in College and he would have to make some serious adjustments if he was make the step up. First, his awareness in the pocket needed to improve, as did his ability to get the ball out of his hands quicker. His throwing motion took far too long, as was the time he took to set his feet. He had also seldom taken snaps under center, Florida going with the shotgun, read option offense for much of Tebow's tenor. Nobody was complaining at the time as nobody could stop it. However, it was less than ideal prepararion for a career in the NFL.
Still, what Tebow did have going for him was the fact he was 250 pounds, incredibly hard to stop running the ball and had a taste for the big occasion. The intangibles may not have been there, but he had a will-to-win like nobody had ever seen.
In the end, it was the Denver Broncos who traded back into the first round to select Tebow (25th overall). Incidentally the man who drafted him, Josh McDaniels, just so happens to be the Offensive Co-ordinator for the Patriots. He will no doubt have had a significant input into this signing, having worked closely with Tebow in the past. How they use him will be on McDaniels, he must come up with packages that can maximise his use to the team.
It's safe to say, if Tebow does contribute, it will be minor. With Tom Brady at the helm, it's unlikely he will see any significant time under center, except possibly in blowout games where Brady can be rested during the games conclusion to avoid injury. There has been talk of Tebow learning the Tight End position, but with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, the Pats seem already set in that area of the field. Instead, look for Tebow to be used at the goal-line, in short down situations, or even in the Wildcat formation, which could be implemented into the Patriot offense with the arrival of the former Gator.
The Patriots will have thought long and hard about this acquisition, even though Tebow could end up being the third string Quarterback. With his religious beliefs and clean-cut image, you would think that a player like Tebow would be a straightforward decision.
However, a player such as Tebow brings his own set of problems.
Where Tebow goes, the media are sure to follow, and lots of them. Whether he's aware of it or not, Tebow has the media hanging on his every word and has done from very early on in his playing career. This comes with it's own set of troubles, some of which were clearly evident last season in New York. Some of the Jets players, in particular fellow Quarterback Mark Sanchez, were unhappy at the amount of media exposure Tebow was getting despite his limited playing time. Others felt more deserving, while in truth Sanchez should have been concentrating on his own performance, which was horrific. Whether this had any effect on Tebow's playing time or his eventual release is uncertain. It can't have helped, the New York media isn't known for it's leniency when it comes to sniffing out a story. Tebow was hung out to dry in New York, an experience that will no doubt have effected him mentally and physically. His is very determined and strong-willed, so there is a very good chance this traumatic year will not have a lasting effect on him going forward.
Despite the difference in success between the Pats and the Jets, the media spotlight in New England will be minuscule in comparison. Belichick will be keeping a close eye on Tebow's media commitments, no doubt to ensure they don't become too much of a distraction. Once again, Tom Brady will help in this area. The Hall-of-Fame Quarterback with the Supermodel wife will no doubt take some of the heat off Tebow, which will no doubt be a welcome relief. The Patriots are renowned for having a close-knit locker room who like to keep any incidents 'In House', so it will be interesting to see what their reaction will be to all the extra publicity that is sure to come their way following the arrival of Tebow. The Patriots will not be invested in him financially, as his contract includes no guaranteed money. Therefore, it is likely that he will be released if his presence is detrimental to the team in even the smallest way.
Of course, that may be the case anyway if Tebow doesn't contribute. There's no doubting his mechanics are awful, he has played very little football since the Bronco's playoff run in 2011 and he still takes an age to get the ball out of his hands. He is only 25 years of age, so there is a chance all this can be resolved, albeit a slim one. Learning how to be a successful Quarterback from Brady should aid his development, but Tebow may be too set in his ways from an intangibles standpoint to ever alter his technique and become a starting Quarterback in the NFL.
What Tebow can do, is realise his limitations and make the most of the gifts he has. It is a great help that the Patriots have signed him before training camp, giving Tebow the best possible opportunity to learn the Playbook and get acquainted with his new surroundings. It also gives Belichick and McDaniels time to devise specific plays to benefit Tebow, which will be crucial to any success he might have in a Patriots uniform.
This could, and perhaps should, be Tebow's last chance in the NFL.
It's imperative he makes the most of it.
Dean Jones: Follow me on Twitter @DeanJones_