When the New England Patriots signed (sometimes) quarterback Tim Tebow to a two-year deal, the immediate question on everyone’s mind was how will the they use his unique set of skills? Well, one way they could make the team better is to create a whole new position for Tebow and make him a Red Zone Closer.
The idea of taking out the regular starting quarterback and putting in a specialist when the team gets in scoring range has been thrown around for a while now, and the reasons not to do it seem pretty obvious.
First and foremost, coaches in the NFL don’t try anything new or controversial if they can help it because if it doesn’t work out, and anything that teams aren’t already doing has a certain chance to fail, they will certainly be blamed for it which might even cost them their jobs. For most coaches this would be enough to scare them away, but not for Bill Belichick.
No coach in the league has as much job security as Belichick. He has shown a propensity for pushing the envelope in the past, being a leader of the pack in things like going for it on fourth downs and implementing an uptempo offense.
But even if a coach is willing to go for it, most teams do everything they can to avoid quarterback controversy of any kind. If the Red Zone Closer starts performing better than the regular starter, the rumor mill will kick into high gear that the team should just use the him the whole game and bench the starter.
Plus, it stands to reason that the team has the best chance of scoring by just putting their best quarterback on the field all of the time and letting the chips fall where they may. All those are good points and good reasons why most teams shouldn’t even think of such a thing.
But Tebow on the Patriots is a special scenario that’s perfectly set up to give the Red Zone Closer role a shot.
The last thing that Tom Brady has to worry about is a quarterback controversy. Still, it will be hard to get Brady to buy in. He famously does not like to give up any opportunity he has to get on the field, but in the end he wants to win over everything else. If you can convince him that using Tebow in the red zone will lead to wins, he’ll get behind the idea.
And it’s really Tebow that’s the key to the whole thing. His ability to run with the ball and throw accurately in the short areas of the field fits in perfectly for the red zone. When he was in Denver the downside to running the Tebow offense was that a defense rarely had to defend anything deeper than 20 yards down the field. Well, in the red zone, nothing more than 20 yards down the field matters anyway.
Things get tighter when you get closer to the end zone, and Tebow’s ability to add an extra blocker to the running scheme becomes even more important. That extra blocker (if the quarterback is the ball carrier you don’t waste the position as someone just facilitating a handoff) can be the difference between getting seven points or settling for a field goal.
The move would be risky for sure, but no team is better equipped to pull it off than the Patriots and no player is better equipped to be successful as a Red Zone Closer than Tim Tebow.