Patriot Act

New England signs Tim Tebow, who one independent coach says has fixed his throw


On a day when the biggest Jaguars news involved Maurice Jones-Drew copping out of answering questions about the "unfortunate incident" at the Conch House, there was far bigger football news for folks who call this area home.

The national media had counted Tim Tebow out. We here in Northeast Florida, who have watched him from his days as a wunderkind at Nease High School to his days as a dynamo with the Gators and onto his days as a pro with the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets, knew better. Or at least some of us did.

Some of us didn't. Pete Prisco had been dissing Tebow on Twitter for weeks, for example. I had filed a column speculating that Tebow could run for Congress — because his NFL career was "over" and all.

That column will never see the light of day, even though it seems like a viable option once Tebow's playing career is over. And — praise Bill Belichick — that isn't happening.

Multiple reports say that Tebow will be with the Patriots and in camp by the time you read this column. For those of us who have made a mini-career out of documenting Tebowmania, it couldn't happen at a better time.

To be sure, questions remain. The first of which, though not a pressing one necessarily: Who in Tebow's inner circle was it that "privately admitted" to media sources that Tebow's career was "done"? And will that person be in the inner circle going forward?

Other questions are more pressing — if you place any stake in the idea that Tebow will be a quarterback with the Patriots, under the tutelage of Tom Brady (an idea buttressed by the fact that the Pats cut backup quarterback Mike Kafka to make room for No. 15).

The question of Tebow's ability as a quarterback is still an open one. In the weeks leading up to his signing, reports from the media gave much anecdotal evidence of Tebow's failings as a quarterback — not just in the games, but even in practice, where he allegedly hit his coach in Denver, John Fox, with an errant pass.

He can't throw, they say, something that was true even during his "good" year in Denver, unless you want to count that anomalous playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in which he torched that vaunted defense and took his Broncos — left for dead before he became quarterback — into the second round, where they were summarily vanquished by Belichick's Patriots.

That seems so long ago now.

With this signing by the Patriots, local fans who wanted him to be signed by the Jaguars (finally, a reason to buy a new jersey!) will once again see their hopes quashed. That's not surprising, of course, to anyone who listened to General Manager David Caldwell earlier this offseason.

There are those who had wished he was drafted instead of Tyson Alualu — a reach pick that looks reachier with each passing year. And there were those who hoped against hope (and reportedly, the desire of the player himself) that Tebow would come to Jacksonville instead of going to the Jets. That didn't come to pass, and we all know that 2012 did about as much for Tebow's rep as it did for that of Paul Ryan and the Mayan calendar.

But that was then. This is now. And the question now is pretty cut and dry: What can Belichick get out of Tebow?

Reports are that Tebow has been working on his game all offseason. He reported to the Jets a couple of months back 12 pounds lighter than he had been the previous season. And his throwing motion? Fixed, according to Steve Clarkson, an "independent quarterback coach" who spoke to Newsday in April.

"The footwork is essentially what caused a lot of his looping motion," Clarkson said. "A lot of what was happening with his throwing motion and why it was elongated was because of the way he placed his feet at the end of his drop. Right before he'd make his throw, his hips would stop at mid-motion, and the ball would come off in funny places. So that was one thing that we really honed in on, was trying to tie his feet up."

Time will tell how accurate those assurances are. More experienced quarterbacks than Tebow (see Vick, Michael) have reverted back to old, bad habits when under pressure or far behind in games. But if Tebow actually wants to learn how to be a winning quarterback, he couldn't have landed in a better situation.

Now, there's only one thing left for local diehards to do: Pre-order that Tebow No. 15 jersey in red, white and blue.

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