Sooner or later Tim Tebow’s NFL dream had to end, but I expected it to end with a whimper, not with an 11-for-17 passing night with two touchdown throws, a 45-yard completion and a 17-yard run included.
Nothing’s ever going to make complete sense with this guy, but why didn’t Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly just cut the guy after three preseason games if his mind already was made up? Instead, he cuts Tebow after a very productive final preseason game against the Jets and after trading Matt Barkley. Then Kelly explains his decision by saying that Tebow just isn’t good enough to be the Eagles’ No. 3 quarterback.
And Stephen Morris, added to the Eagles’ 53-man roster this week, is?
Morris was a pretty good quarterback on a 7-5 University of Miami team but no NFL team thought enough of him to draft him. The Jacksonville Jaguars, a lousy operation from top to bottom, carried him on their practice squad and then cut him. Morris, like a lot of good, young arms, has potential yet there’s nothing at this point to separate him from the pack.
If Kelly had decided to carry two quarterbacks instead of three, if he wanted to sign Morris to the practice squad and begin to work with him as insurance, OK. But now he’s giving a roster spot to a guy he never has worked with and junking Tebow, who has been with the Eagles all offseason, soaking up a series of plays specially designed for him, and who put together some decent preseason stats.
It’s all moot if Sam Bradford stays healthy as Philadelphia’s starter. It’s all moot if Kelly didn’t really think he could use Tebow or anyone else as a run-option gimmick quarterback, good for two-point tries and other specialty situations.
Going this route, however, the conventional, automatic, we’ve always done things this way route, makes Kelly look like every other coach in the league. Think Joe Philbin, for instance.
The Miami Dolphins just added Logan Thomas, unwanted by the Arizona Cardinals, to their 53-man roster. He’s apparently good enough to be a No. 3 even though he has barely played in the NFL and even though at 6-feet-6 and 250 pounds he looks far more like a tight end than a quarterback. Tebow’s actually a little smaller at 6-3 and 245 but people have been trying to get him to change positions since he left Florida.
Oh, and the Cleveland Browns added Austin Davis, thinking him good enough to be a No. 3 quarterback with his 3-5 record as an emergency starter at St. Louis last season and his five pass attempts this preseason. Tebow’s 9-7 career record as an NFL starter, that’s dismissed a fluke, just as he is routinely dismissed as a fluke.
There must be something else going on here, with Kelly and with everyone else who has taken a pass on Tebow. Maybe Tebow’s so slow at reading defenses and running through his progressions that his passing accuracy isn’t even the question anymore. Maybe the coaches who have tried him, really tried him, are doing him a favor by not publicly stating that reason. “Just not good enough” may be the code that Kelly preferred.
Makes no difference now. There’s a whole chapter of plays Kelly can’t use without Tebow, or somebody else with the ability to pass a little and run a lot. To be certain, Bradford and Mark Sanchez won’t be put at inordinate risk.
For that matter, Rex Ryan and the Jets wouldn’t pull the trigger with Tebow at the goal line, where caveman plays are the preferred mode of operation. Now and forever, the question will be why did they bother to pick him up in the first place?
Bottom line, Tebow didn’t do enough to make an NFL team build its future around him but he’s accomplished more than half the other castoffs who keep bouncing around the league, good enough to keep on the rolodex if not on the regular-season roster.
So that’s it. Tebow Time has come to an end, not with a whimper but, typically, with a question mark.
For instance, do touchdowns simply not count for as many points when he scores them, or does Tebow score every one of his touchdowns simply by accident?
He won’t hash this stuff over in public, especially once the SEC Network has him back on the job, but in private it’s got to sting.
2015 Preseason stats
Player Completion pct. TD passes Rating Rush avg. Rush TDs
Stephen Morris 54.8 1 79.7 1.4 1
Logan Thomas 61.8 1 86.4 4.1 0
Austin Davis 60.0 0 95.4 NA* 0
Tim Tebow 58.3 2 90.7 5.9 1
*No rush attempts