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Tim O

Tim O’Sullivan: No surprise, Tebow experiment fails

  • New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow warms up before an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow warms up before an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow warms up before an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow warms up before an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow warms up before an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow warms up before an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Patriots made their final roster cuts yesterday, and the cut that’s the biggest news is also the least surprising – Tim Tebow is no longer a Patriot.

The choir boy quarterback had plenty of supporters, including team owner Robert Kraft and many of Tebow’s (now former) New England teammates, judging by their reaction on the sidelines after Tebow actually made a play on the field during the preseason. The problem was those
positive plays were rare.

Tebow was just 11-for-30 for 145 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in three exhibition games. Not only did he miss on 63 per-

cent of throws, he often missed by miles.

Tebow did show some small improvement during his brief time in New England – his best game was his last when he went 6-for-11 for 91 yards, two touchdowns and an interception Thursday against the Giants. But that performance was hardly a masterpiece, and it came against the dregs of New York’s defense. Plus, Tebow had nowhere to go but up after his first two games as a Patriot.

In the preseason opener against Philadelphia, Tebow showed brutal indecision, holding the ball with receivers open all over the field on multiple plays. He looked like an overmatched, free agent rookie, not a former first-round pick with three years of NFL experience, and he finished that game 4-for-12 for 55 yards.

Somehow, things got worse the next week.

On Aug. 16 against Tampa Bay, Tebow put up passing numbers that are hard to even fathom – 1-for-7 for negative-1 yard and an interception. Sadly, those stats told the story. It looked just that ugly, especially after Tom Brady dissected the Buccaneer defense by going 11-for-12 for 107 yards and a touchdown, and that was just days after tweaking his knee. Even backup Ryan Mallett looked good against the Bucs, finishing 12-for-20 for 137 yards and a touchdown.

To be fair, Tebow did show his running ability against Tampa Bay, gaining 30 yards on six carries. That’s always been his best skill, and he finished the preseason with 91 rushing yards on 16 attempts.

But that was hardly enough to overcome his passing deficiencies, and despite being a rugged runner, Tebow took seven sacks.

The makeshift offensive line he was playing behind deserves some of the blame for all those sacks, but Tebow has a history of taking sacks, which speaks to his slow decision making. According to ESPN Stats, Tebow has been sacked on 10.3 percent of his dropbacks, the second-highest percentage for any quarterback over the last three seasons, just behind the 10.4 percent of Kevin Kolb.

So after watching Tebow’s preseason debacle, it seemed fairly obvious he wasn’t going to survive the final roster cuts, especially when you consider Bill Belichick has kept just two quarterbacks in four of the last five years. But the cut is also no shock because, to be honest, Tebow wasn’t all that good when he arrived.

Sure, he had all the miracle, fourth-quarter wins in 2011 with Denver, but part of the reason those seemed so miraculous was Tebow’s ineptitude for the first three quarters. The guy is a career 47.9-percent passer (173-for-361) who takes too long to read defenses and even the average fan can see his throwing mechanics simply do not belong in the NFL.

All along it seemed like the Patriots just had a soft spot for Tebow. Belichick reportedly developed a good relationship with him when Tebow was at Florida. And Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels traded up to get him in the first round back when McDaniels was Denver’s head man. It does make sense to hire people you’re familiar with, but Tebow’s arrival in New England had a strange hint of nepotism from the start. Or maybe the coaches thought they could actually turn Tebow into a legitimate NFL quarterback where others could not. Either way, it seemed like an experiment destined to fail.

But Belichick and McDaniels can be forgiven if they were enamored by Tebow’s personality. He is, by all accounts, a genuinely good guy, which seems to be all too rare of a find in NFL locker rooms these days. And Tebow did nothing to tarnish that reputation with the tweet he posted yesterday after learning he’d been cut.

“I would like to thank Mr. Kraft, Coach Belichick, Coach McDaniels and the entire Patriots organization for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such a classy organization. I pray for nothing but the best for you all. I will remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback.”

It’s hard not to root for him to fulfill that dream, just as long as he’s not doing it on your team.

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3371 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)

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