Ryan Mallett has had a stranglehold on the backup quarterback job for the New England Patriots since the team took him in the third round of the 2011 draft.
But this year, things are different. This year, the Patriots brought in someone to challenge Mallett for the right to back up Tom Brady in New England — you may have heard of Tim Tebow at one time or another. Now that Tebow is in camp, Mallett has real competition for the first time in his young NFL career and sometimes, competition can bring out the best in someone.
So far, the jury is very much still out on Mallett as a legitimate NFL quarterback. He’s looked good in the limited time we’ve seen him in preseason games, but preseason games are a bad judgment of how well a player will do when the games count, especially offensive players.
Defenses are as plain and vanilla as they can be in the preseason, and things are much different for quarterbacks when teams are pulling out all of their tricks to stop them.
What we do know Mallett has is size and arm strength, the two things you can’t teach a young quarterback. And you sure can’t teach someone to stand 6-foot-6 tall. The Patriots usually only carry two quarterbacks on their roster, figuring if they get past the backup to the third signal caller on the depth chart, they’re probably not going to win anyway.
But this year, they have two backups who deserve to make the roster. Mallett is a quarterback only, but Tebow can (if he’s willing, and I think he’s been humbled) help the team in many ways.
There should be room for both of them, but Mallett will have a fight on his hands to be the first quarterback off the bench this year if something happens to Brady.