NFL.com caught up with NFL Network analyst -- and former NFL head coach -- Brian Billick for a quick question-and-answer session to get his thoughts on the New England Patriots' decision to bring on controversial quarterback Tim Tebow.
Billick: First off, it's low risk. It's the right player at the right price at the right time. No one else wants him. I'm sure it will be a minimal contract. The Patriots, probably more than any other team in the league, are very role-specific, in terms of the talents they're looking for. So obviously offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, I'm sure, has convinced Belichick that there can be a limited role for Tim Tebow in the offense at specific times. The upside would be that it would force teams to at least have to account for -- and spend some of their work week preparing for -- Tebow, even if it's in preparation for nothing more than one or two plays. Every practice play that the Patriots' opponents spend not getting ready for Tom Brady is a good thing for New England. So the good thing is that he's clearly going to be a backup. There's no question, compared to the other two places he was at, about who the starting quarterback is. And they have time, if they choose, if they truly believe that he can be an NFL quarterback, because he's going to be doing it outside of the spotlight.
Billick: If you've got three Super Bowl rings, you've got a lot of equity in the bank to do whatever you want, no matter how much out-of-the-box. Particularly at the price -- it's going to be minimal price for them. And so the experiment, there's really no downside to it. Other than those who want to question, "Are you really going to take Tom Brady off the field in any critical situation?" I don't know that it will be in critical situations. Obviously, third down, red zone, Tom Brady is pretty good. But just to have the presence of a Tim Tebow, to make people at least have to plan for him, can be a good thing. Plus, they have the time now to see if he can indeed develop. To a degree, this may be Josh McDaniels trying to redeem his choice of Tim Tebow in the first round in 2010, when he was coaching the Denver Broncos, to answer all of the naysayers who said that was a mistake pick. If he indeed can develop him, and down the line Tebow ends up being a quarterback, McDaniels can redeem a little bit of his lost status in Denver when he took Tebow with the 25th pick.
Q: Do you foresee a competition between Tebow and Ryan Mallett for the backup quarterback job, considering Mallett is more of a traditional drop-back passer?
Billick: That's always been the question: "Can Tim Tebow run a conventional offense?" They're not going to put an entire offense in just for Tim Tebow. They may have a play or two. He will compete with Ryan Mallett, but I can't imagine Ryan Mallett not winning that competition. I think Tim Tebow is there for a specific reason, and all he's looking for is the opportunity to show that he can play quarterback and try to develop and prove everybody wrong.
Q: If you were in Bill Belichick's position, would you make this move?
Billick: Sure, if I'm sitting there with three Super Bowl rings, I make whatever move I want to make. Sure, why not? I don't think there's a downside to it. And compared to the media circus that it was in New York, it's not going to be that in New England. There's going to be no news conferences, I'll promise you that. He may be interviewed by the media, but it's not going to be a news conference. I don't know that you're going to hear a lot about Tim Tebow, unless he finds himself playing one or two times a game in the regular season. New England is a perfect place for him.
Q: You mentioned Tebow-specific packages. How tempted do you think Belichick is going to be to try to use Tebow as a tight end or an H-back?
Billick: I think those that say, "Well, we'll just use him in that capacity," are being very disrespectful to those positions. It takes a little bit more to play in the National Football League than just being a good athlete. Yeah, he's a good athlete. Could he fit in those roles? Sure. They may very well be taking him just as an athlete. Who better than a Bill Belichick to do that? Think of Danny Woodhead, or the receiver they used in the secondary, Julian Edelman. Maybe he finds a very specific role for Tim Tebow in a very selective way. That's great. But as it applies and pertains to Tim Tebow as a quarterback, that's a totally different question. Could he fill the spot, be the 52nd or 53rd man on the roster, to do some unique or odd job? Sure, why not?
Q: Do you see Tebow on the Patriots' roster come Week 1?
Billick: I do, because I think they'll find that specific role. I still have serious questions as to whether he's a quarterback for the National Football League. But certainly, if you want to commit to a role -- just like when the New York Jets had Brad Smith, they had a specific role for him, and that was a valuable role. That's what the Jets envisioned with Tebow. Why it never materialized with them, I don't know. So I can certainly see Tim Tebow having some value commensurate with what the 53rd man on your roster might have.
Billick: I don't know about "more." But yeah, just to use him, just to kind of stick it to the Jets? Sure, it's all part of the gamesmanship.
Follow Brian Billick on Twitter @CoachBillick