There is a good chance your Sunday afternoon Twitter feed was interrupted with the breaking news of Tim Tebow signing with the Eagles. In the six hours that have followed Jay Glazer’s scoop on the former first rounder’s reemergence in the NFL, Eagles fans have labeled Tim Tebow as a franchise quarterback, a publicity stunt and everything in-between. So where does the truth of Tim Tebow’s projected role with the Eagles lie? Here are my thoughts:
First, it is important to understand that there is no guarantee that Tebow makes the team. After adding Tebow, the Eagles now have five quarterbacks on the roster. And while the quarterback depth chart may evolve even more during the upcoming NFL Draft, if history repeats itself, the Eagles will likely head into the regular season with only four quarterbacks on the active roster and practice squad. While the addition of Tebow likely signals the near-future departure of Matt Barkley, drafting a quarterback or adding another passer in free agency before the start of the Eagles’ regular season would certainly jeopardize Tebow’s prospects of making the team.
Personally, I think Chip Kelly has somewhat of a vision for Tim Tebow. Allow me to be bold for a minute:
Tebow has had stints with the Broncos, Jets and Patriots since being drafted in 2010, and his ability as a three-down passer has been rightfully and thoroughly questioned during each of his stops. One part of Tebow’s game, though, has never disputed by coaches or fans, and that is his determination and knack to gain yards on the ground. That is where I believe he fits with the Eagles.
While thus far it has been overshadowed by free agency and the fast-approaching NFL Draft, there are rumblings around the league that there may be wholesale changes to the extra point prior to the 2015 regular season. While several different scenarios have been thrown around, the scenario that is considered the clubhouse-leader would reportedly move the ball from the two yard line to the one yard line to entice teams to attempt two-point conversions. The rule change is slated to be voted on in May.
If extra points are in-fact moved to the one yard line, Tebow could prove to be an exceptional addition for the Eagles. In 35 career NFL games, the quarterback has gained 989 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns on 197 attempts. That’s an impressive average of 5.0 yards per rush. And while Tebow’s history as a passer will not keep opposing defenses from loading the box, the Eagles have the offensive line, running backs and tight ends to make Tebow a valuable threat at the goal line. While he led the Broncos to the second round of the playoffs during the 2011, Tebow’s best football was played at the University of Florida under head coach Urban Meyer. Like Meyer, Chip Kelly’s offensive philosophy largely centers around utilizing spread formations to run the football. If Tebow makes the team and is utilized in certain situations during the 2015 season, expect him to be used situationally in two-tight end formations that feature a mixture of QB Power, QB Zone, QB Counter, Power Read and other run plays that allow Tebow to maneuver in-between the offensive tackles. To keep defenses honest, expect to see pass plays that have simple, cut-and-dry reads and feature short, quick routes that allow Tebow to get the ball out of his hands quickly. As a situational player, the Eagles could utilize Tebow’s physicality at the quarterback position while also keeping Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez out of harm’s way on short-yardage plays.
All-in-all, Tim Tebow’s potential role in Philadelphia’s offense makes him a low-risk, high-reward addition for the Eagles. While the acquisition will certainly lead to heightened publicity and media presence throughout offseason workouts and training camp, few coaches in the NFL are suited to handle the plethora of potential Tebow-related questions better than Chip Kelly. If alterations to the extra point are voted against and no changes are made, Tebow will still compete to win a position on the Eagles as QB3 or a special teams player. Whether Tebow makes the team or is released prior to the 2015 regular season, Eagles fans should applaud Kelly’s atomistical approach to perfecting the Eagles’ roster.
Follow Sidelines and Headlines creator Ray Butler on Twitter: @RayButlerII