Patriots, Tebow could get innovative

Tim Tebow's star may have faded over the past year, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have an impact on the New England Patriots. Just don’t expect it to be at Tom Brady’s expense.

Here’s a look at why the Tebow signing just might be more meaningful than you think.

1. Still a Quarterback?

All signs from day one of the Tebow era point to him playing quarterback. Of course, that doesn’t mean Bill Belichick won’t get creative with him.

But the prospect of Tebow at quarterback is arguably the least interesting aspect of his signing with the Patriots.

Since taking over for Drew Bledsoe in 2001, Tom Brady has taken every meaningful snap when healthy. He’s also coming off one of his best seasons.

There will be no quarterback controversy in New England. Instead, the Patriots can go forward looking for ways to incorporate Tebow as a potential offensive weapon.

Tebow only played 18 offensive snaps outside of the quarterback position last season. New England has the freedom to be more innovative.

2. Tebow: Workout Warrior

For a moment, forget the past three years of Tebowmania. Ignore the fourth-quarter heroics in Denver and failed season in New York. Try to remember the athlete, the one who put on a show back at the 2010 NFL Draft Combine.

He completed the 3-cone drill in 6.66 seconds. That would be the fastest for a tight end in the past nine years.

Only two wide receivers in 2013 had a higher vertical than Tebow did in 2010.

No one would dare argue with Julio Jones’ athleticism. Well, Tebow posted the exact same vertical jump (38.50) and 3-cone drill (6.66) as Jones.

Tebow posted better numbers than Stevan Ridley or Shane Vereen in the 3-cone drill, the 20-yard shuttle and the vertical jump.

So what does all of this mean? Is Tebow plagued by the hype surrounding him?

The numbers show he has the athleticism to contribute in the NFL. The question is if that can translate to the field. And another question looms if the Patriots do intend to use him at tight end: Can he catch?

3. Red Zone Impact

First, let it be said the Patriots don’t necessarily need any help in the red zone. New England scored a touchdown on a league-high 70 percent of red-zone possessions last season. That’s the highest in the NFL since the 2009 Arizona Cardinals.

Patriots Red Zone Efficiency
Last 4 Seasons

Tebow could potentially bolster that strength. The Patriots have a history of innovation on the goal line -- and across the field.

Bill Belichick turned linebacker Mike Vrabel into an offensive weapon. He caught 10 touchdown passes, including two in the postseason, in his eight years in New England. Tom Ashworth, Dane Fletcher and Dan Klecko are other examples of this.

Direct snaps to Kevin Faulk and Danny Woodhead have been a regular staple in goal-to-go situations.

Quick Hits

* If Tebow makes the Patriots roster, get ready for three weeks of redemption storylines. He could face the Jets twice this season (Weeks 2, 7), and Broncos come to Foxboro in Week 12.

* With Tebow, the Patriots now have four Florida Gators on the roster. Right now, 13 percent of the roster is compromised of players from Florida or Rutgers (eight players).

* Tebow would be just the second left-handed quarterback to throw a pass for the Patriots, joining Jeff Carlson.