The buzz sparked by the news that Tim Tebow would sign with the New England Patriots nearly broke the Internet on Monday afternoon. At least, it felt that way.
In March, I wrote an open letter to Tebow in which I begged him to sign with the Patriots. I'm an unabashed fan of both the "Patriot Way" and "Tebowmania," so I can't wait for this next chapter. This move makes a ton of sense for both the player and the team.
Let's run through some reasons to think things are going to work out well for Tebow in New England and consider some storylines to watch for, "Schein Nine" style.
1) The Patriots and Bill Belichick will control the noise
Imagine the circus with no clowns. Imagine no animals, no flying trapeze, no music. Heck, there's no cotton candy. There's nothing. Welcome to New England Patriots football, where the players wonderfully talk in the code of "Beli-bots," churning out the most dreadful and least inflammatory clichés of all time while piling up wins and competing for a championship year after year.
If you like clowns, that's bad. If you like winning, that's a good thing. Tebow won't come with the clown show.
After the New York Jets traded for Tebow last year, they held a press conference introducing the backup quarterback -- and it took place in the field house, because the press room was too small. When Tebow was in Denver, fans put up a billboard urging the Broncos to play him.
In New England, Tebow won't get special treatment or attention. He has a special legion of fans, but in Boston, he'll fall way behind the Red Sox, the Bruins, the Celtics and the legendary coach and quarterback of the Patriots. He won't be available to the press any more than fellow backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. That's the way it should be.
Bad boys Corey Dillon and Randy Moss conformed in New England before. Tebow loves the attention, but he knows he was dangerously close to being out of the league. You won't see him running shirtless through the rain. ESPN won't be allowed to air special coverage, like when the network staked out Jets training camp. It will be the same, basic coverage. The Patriots will make it that way. Just consider how Belichick shut down persistent Tebow-related questioning from reporters on Tuesday.
As someone who has worked closely with Tebow over the past few years told me on Monday night, "I really don't think there will be a circus. Tim will fit into their model."
If you want a circus, take the kids to see Ringling Bros. Don't look to New England.
2) This is what Tebow needs
Sometimes, Tebow can't help himself. As a former Jet explained, "Tim's a good guy, but he always knows where the camera is."
Tebow's been working this offseason on his mechanics, which are obviously flawed. He can learn from Belichick and Tom Brady. This sets up Tebow to restore his name.
3) In practice, Tebow time is for game time
Tebow is one of the worst practice players in NFL history, or at least it seems that way. As one former Jet told me Monday night, "He couldn't hit the broad side of a barn in practice." Tebow was awful enough in Denver to be the third-string quarterback behind the not-so-fabled duo of Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn. ... But when he saw game action, he was majestic enough to guide the Broncos to a playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Tim will never look good in practice, but Bill knows that heading into this," the source who has worked with Tebow pointed out to me.
4) Tebow will make the team and see the field
I'll bet Belichick finds a way to get Tebow into games. As would be true of any other player, if Tebow can help the Patriots win in a certain week, he will play.
I'll also bet Tebow realizes that contributing in ways other than playing quarterback will be a boost -- and not a detriment -- to his NFL future. And I'll bet Brady will be OK handing the ball off to Tebow or letting Tebow run from the quarterback position one time per game, which will be akin to giving the pigskin to a running back.
I know we're seeing reports that Tebow will just be a quarterback. I don't buy it.
"I see him in a short-yardage, goal-line package, with some unbalanced line being used," one executive from a rival team told me. "The prep time alone will make things harder on Patriot opponents. Tebow will be far down their list of things to prepare for and he could be a significant weapon, because if you are not prepared, gaps can be unaccounted for."
That makes a ton of sense.
5) The Josh McDaniels factor
Tebow needs a "godfather," and he has one in Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who spent a first-round pick on Tebow when he was head coach of the Denver Broncos. McDaniels believes in Tebow and his uncanny knack for the moment. This can't be stressed enough.
McDaniels and Belichick crave smart, versatile, winning players. Say what you want about Tebow, but he most certainly can be described with those three adjectives.
6) The Urban Meyer factor
Belichick and Tebow's college coach, Urban Meyer, are very tight. Tebow will do anything to win football games. Nobody works harder. He's a bright player. Belichick appreciates that. If that attitude becomes contagious, that's a positive.
7) The Tom Brady factor
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Tebow fractured the quarterback room in Denver. He represented a distraction at every turn in New York. But there will be no such issues in New England.
Brady is a living legend, one of the best and most clutch quarterbacks in NFL history. He is larger than life. It's Brady's show.
This is a good thing for Tebow. For the first time in his NFL career, Tebow will be a pebble in someone else's shadow.
8) A "Slash" for a new day
Former Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart was known as "Slash" for his ability to play all over the field. Well, Tebow is the new "Slash." He can be the ultimate decoy lined up in the backfield. He can run via the Wildcat or the reverse.
If I were Tebow, I would volunteer to play tight end, safety, special teams ... I would volunteer to get Brady his water. It's Tebow's job to tell Belichick he will do anything to help the team win -- while continuing to refine his game at quarterback.
9) Revenge, Tebow style
How ironic would it be if Tebow were to score more touchdowns than Mark Sanchez during the Jets-Patriots matchup on NFL Network in Week 2? I'll bet it happens. Ex-Jets always come back to burn Gang Green (see: Woodhead, Danny). Ever since hastily resigning as the "HC of the NYJ" years ago, Belichick has seemingly taken special pleasure in this phenomenon. Tebow will run the ball into the end zone in a lopsided Patriots win behind Brady -- and Sanchez will be on the bench.
Come on. You know that will be the script. It has to be, right?
Remember when the Jets thought they traded for a weapon? And they had a plan to give him 10 to 15 touches a game with Tony Sparano running the plays? Remember when the Jets guarded that plan so tightly last August -- only to never use it? Instead, they responded to Tebow's awful practice presence and watched Sanchez butt-fumble his way to an underachieving, turnover-marred season.
I still maintain that the Jets should've used Tebow. He was the best quarterback and runner on the roster, and nothing else was working. But they wasted him.
Don't you get the feeling that Belichick would love to remind them of that this fall?