It’s What the Patriots Do | Draft Day Suit

It’s What the Patriots Do

It’s so tempting to point and laugh at the New England Patriots.

Dark Lord Bill Belichick and the Pats signed Tim Tebow on Tuesday, prompting much giggling, especially among Jets fans.

As much fun as it would be to jump in with both feet, I can’t. Because I have this nagging feeling that Tebow is going to work out for the Patriots.

And that’s bad for the rest of us.

When we did our series of video NFL predictions last fall, I found myself telling my fellow Draft Day Suiters the same thing more than once when we discussed the Pats: “It’s what they do.” Come up with big stops against offenses that should be able to score on New England’s geriatric defense? It’s what they do. Put up 40 points on what we previously thought was a good defense? It’s what they do.

Get extra mileage out of players who don’t seem to fit anywhere else? It’s what they do.

To that last point: It’s what Belichick does, to be specific. He doesn’t nail every free-agent signing — bringing in an 87-year-old Joey Galloway in 2009 is a decent example — but if you look at the list, he’s generally seen good results when he brings in misfits, malcontents or aging stars.

  • Junior Seau: Came out of retirement to join the Pats in 2006, and played like the beast he was for a couple seasons, and contributed to a couple more.
  • Randy Moss: Belichick got Moss to set aside his massive ego and sign in 2007 with a restructured contract. Moss, who was never happy anywhere, was happy enough with Belichick and New England that he even re-signed with the Pats in 2008 after the Patriots won Super Bowl XLII.
  • David Patten: A receiver who had bounced around the league — and out of the league, playing arena football for a while — Patten found a home in New England, catching passes for 2,500 yards in four seasons.
  • Mike Vrabel: The defensive lineman from Ohio State had a decent start in Pittsburgh, but was mostly languishing on the Steelers’ bench when he signed a free-agent contract with New England in 2001. Belichick definitely saw something in Vrabel, who played defensive end, linebacker and — hello — tight end while collecting three Super Bowl rings.

To me, the Moss and Vrabel signings — and subsequent successes — are the most telling when we’re considering what might happen with Tebow. Touchdown Jesus isn’t the same kind of troublemaker that Moss had been, but his insistence that he’s an NFL-caliber quarterback makes him tricky to handle. But if a player like Moss can (mostly) set aside his ego and accept a reduced role to play for a proven winner, Tebow can — and I think will — do the same. And with Vrabel, Belichick showed that he’s willing to yank a player out of his traditional role and into another where he can contribute. Vrabel was a beast of a tight end, difficult to cover because of his size, and he turned out to be a great linebacker — after never having played the position — as well.

Tebow’s not going to be a quarterback at New England; Brady’s aging, but he’s far from being done. But Belichick doesn’t sign players like Tebow to serve as backups. TJ might do as a tight end, if he can, in fact, catch a football, but I see him in the backfield instead. He’s going to carry the football. He’s going to block. And once in a while, he’s going to take a handoff and do one of those irritating jump-passes he made a living with at Florida. And he’s going to do all those those things willingly, for the same reasons Randy Moss and Mike Vrabel did. He’s going to trust Belichick to make the right choices.

And Belichick will. Because that’s what he does.

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About the author
Uncle Crappy may live in Pittsburgh, but he grew up in Columbus. He attended his first Ohio State football game in 1973 and the experience pretty much ruined him for life; he's now a season ticket holder and has spent years torturing himself with endless cycles of angst and ecstasy that come with being a serious college football fan. He's willing to torture others as well, with post after post about the beauty of tailback iso plays run under slate-gray November skies. Being an Ohio guy has been, uh, helpful in other facets of his sports fandom as well. He loves the Cleveland Indians and he'll even publicly admit to being a Cleveland Browns fan, which means he spends a lot of time trying to convince the Stillers fans who surround him that the NFL actually existed prior to the appearance of Chuck Knoll and Terry Bradshaw in Pittsburgh. Uncle Crappy writes about Ohio State football and tailgating at killernutstailgating.com and everything else at unclecrappy.com. He also writes about tech stuff, transportation, craft beer and other things at a Pittsburgh-area newspaper.

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3 Replies to It’s What the Patriots Do

  1. Gah. I hate it when the Patriots are good.

    I want this to be an abysmal failure, and yet, I think I agree with you. Belichick is some sort of wizard.

  2. HeadlessMom says:

    Damn. I really wanted to disagree with you because, ugh, The Patriots, but I can’t really. And I’m glad he’s getting his shot.

  3. Sounds like a typical belichik move. Wait for the media narrative to hit a lull on a guy, sign him dirt cheap, and see what he’s got left in the tank. Only difference here is tebow is relatively young, as opposed to the seasoned vets he usually plucks of the wire and gives a second chance. And make no mistake about it…belichik has a gameplan in place for tim tebow. Or else he wouldn’t take a flier on him. He’s also a master of handling the media and mainaining the narrative. Aside from gronks extremely public shenanigans, that is.

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