As the Patriots begin their preparation for the Jets this Sunday, it will mark a week in which the team will need to prepare for multiple quarterbacks, as the Jets have incorporated Tim Tebow into their offensive mix alongside starter Mark Sanchez.
The Jets often interchange the two within a series, bringing Tebow in and using him in a number of different ways, while also implementing offensive packages that feature both players on the field at the same time.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick discussed Tebow’s role yesterday, highlighting both his offensive versatility and special teams value, where Tebow has served as the personal protector on the punt team, and has already successfully thrown and run on fake punt plays.
“They’ve pretty much used him at every spot. He’s played more quarterback than anything else, but he’s also played running back, I would say tight end, he’s also played a little bit of receiver,” Belichick said of Tebow’s offensive duties. “They put him in some different spots. When he’s the quarterback, he’s the quarterback, he can run, he can throw, he can run the option, he can run their regular offense. They can run Tebow-type plays that Denver ran last year, or that (offensive coordinator Tony) Sparano ran when he was in Miami.”
“He gives them a lot of versatility in all of those things,” Belichick noted. “He doesn’t always line up at quarterback when he’s in there on offense, so you have to be ready to deal with him at other positions as well. He’s a good runner, he’s a strong runner, very strong. He’s mobile in the pocket, (a) smart player, he can do a lot of different things. Different option plays and things like that, so you certainly have to be aware of him when he’s in there.”
As for his role on special teams, though Tebow brings a different skill set than a run-of-the-mill personal protector, Belichick says his team must prepare for the same threats they scheme for on a weekly basis.
“And in the kicking game, he’s dangerous because of the versatility, but it’s really no different than any other punting situation in that you have to cover the eligible receivers,” he said. “You have to be alert for them to snap the ball to the personal protector, and whether he ends up on a sweep or however they do it, those are things that you have to prepare for every week with your punt return unit.
“The fact that it’s him and he’s a big strong guy who’s a good runner and can throw the ball makes it — he can do a little bit more than a lot of guys that are back there,” Belichick continued. “But at the same time, those are the kind of things you have to prevent every week. Whoever’s responsibility it is to cover the guy has got to cover. If they run it, then we have to have our gaps controlled.”
With all the different hats Tebow can wear for the Jets, Belichick says he has no trouble understanding why he’s such a valuable player on their roster.
“Absolutely, there’s really no question about it,” he said. “We saw him play last year. He quarterbacked that team to the playoffs, Denver. In addition some to the quarterbacking things, he’s done a lot of other things with the Jets, so, yeah, of course he’s a valuable guy.”
Tebow has faced the Patriots twice in his career. In a regular season game at Gillette last December, Tebow was 11 of 22 for 194 yards passing. He also rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns in Denver’s 41-23 loss. Tebow also faced the Patriots in a divisional playoff game in January. He was just 9 for 26 with 136 yards passing, 13 yards rushing and one lost fumble in the Broncos’ 45-10 season-ending loss.