The New England Patriots handily took care of the Philadelphia Eagles in their first preseason game (see the recap by Joe Loubier here). Per usual for Bill, we saw very little of Tom Brady - two drives, and only one of which consisted of any pass attempts thanks to Stevan Ridley's 62-yard run. We would have seen more of Ryan Mallett, but his time at the helm of the offense was shortened by a head injury. Finally, there was the much anticipated (at least by ESPN) debut of Tim Tebow, which was extensive and difficult to watch. We went from great, to bad, to the worst.

Starting with Tom Brady, we witnessed near perfection. He went seven for eight on pass attempts, and connected on seven consecutive throws after missing his first target to Ridley. The star of that drive was wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who Brady hit on four short throws. Aaron Dobson was thrown at once, and it was for the longest throw of Brady's night - 23 yards. Danny Amendola caught Brady's first pass for six yards, and Shane Vereen ended the drive on a spectacular catch of 13 yards in the end zone. On Brady's second drive, it lasted just over four minutes, which is relatively short for a 80-yard New England scoring drive.

Then came Mallett, who started off with two incompletions on a three and out drive. Mallett's performance was spotty. He could move the ball, but he could never finish the drive. His second drive was highlighted by three straight completion to tight end Daniel Fells, and an eventual sputtering of his offense. Josh Boyce's first NFL target, albeit in a preseason game, was an incompletion. Dobson had a big time drop, catching two of his five targets - a very poor performance for someone who was touted as a wide out who never dropped a pass his senior year. On his final drive, Mallett went one for two before a head injury knocked him out.

Finally, Tim Tebow, who was expected not to appear until the second half, had an early arrival. I personally thought that New England wanted Mallett to play longer, get into a groove, and try to heighten his value as trade bait. Obviously those plans were thwarted. Tebow came in and immediately fed endless material to the Tebow-haters and silenced his advocates with his poor play. He had two incompletions and was sacked for ten yards on his first drive. He closed out the drive with his first completion, settling his first half completion percentage at 25% (one for four). Tebow was his typical self in the pocket, shuffling his feet, feeling invisible pressure, and showing that his ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly was diametrically opposed to Brady's propensity for the same task. Bill allowed Tebow the "read-option" when the second half began, and his legs proved to be a little bit better than his arm. He carried the ball four times for 31 yards, averaging 7.8 yards a carry - much better than his four for twelve passing for 55 yards. Although the Patriots did score one touchdown off of a Tebow drive, it was mostly off of the merit of LeGarrette Blount's legs. That one positive was outweighed by the three three and out drives that Tebow led in the fourth quarter. So, it was a dreadful performance by someone who is barely hanging onto a roster spot.

However, despite Tebow's performance, I believe his roster spot will stay through the season. This is not because I believe he is a good quarterback, because he evidently is not that. It is because he provides the ability for the "read-option" to be utilized. This is not for in-game usage though, because Bill will never let Tom Brady relinquish control of the football if he is willing and able (he is always willing, so it really is just if he is able). The "read-option" is useful in preparing for other teams who use it, and Tebow's value as a read-option quarterback replica cannot be understated. Also, if you are to keep a QB3, why not have him also be able to play special teams or be an offensive decoy? Tebow will never be a full-time quarterback, and especially not in New England, but he can provide other benefits to the team when his circus is muted by the power of Bill.

Sam Reilly 8/09/2013 11:50:00 PM Edit

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