- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The New England Patriots are set to take a step back offensively in 2013. They lost both starting receivers -- Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd -- from last year’s group that led the NFL in scoring and replaced them with mostly unproven players and rookies.
New England also has huge question marks at tight end. Rob Gronkowski has had five surgeries on his arm and back since last November and may not be fully recovered for Week 1, and fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez also had major shoulder surgery and missed six games last season.
The Patriots signing quarterback Tim Tebow off the scrap heap isn't the answer to New England’s offensive woes. If anything, it shows an unexpected sign of desperation for a New England offense searching for answers.
This is yet another sign that New England’s run of Super Bowl appearances and NFL dominance is coming to an end. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick have made it to five Super Bowls -- winning three. But it looks more and more like last year may have been the Belichick/Brady-era Patriots’ final shot to win a fourth championship when they lost at home to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC title game.
To put it bluntly, New England simply is not good enough to win a Super Bowl this year. Last year’s team was better, especially on offense. Brady, who will be 36 in August, is a year older and has less firepower. Adding Tebow to the mix doesn’t fix anything. It simply brings more media and a huge distraction, which is something Belichick usually tries to avoid.
And what exactly is Tebow’s role in New England?
Tebow is certainly not playing quarterback. Brady is clearly the franchise starter in New England, and I would take my chances with the strong arm of Ryan Mallett over the inaccuracy and poor mechanics of Tebow any day. Tebow is the No. 3 quarterback at best.
Would the Patriots really take Brady off the field to insert Tebow in a Wildcat package? Taking an elite quarterback like Brady off the field for any amount of plays is a huge mistake. Opposing defenses would love to see less Brady and more Tebow on a weekly basis. Would the Patriots be silly enough to oblige?
Maybe Tebow can play H-back or on special teams in New England. But that is nothing more than what he did with the New York Jets last year when things went awry. Is all of that worth the extra attention that Tebow brings? The Jets got their answer last year. Now, it's New England's turn to make the same mistake.
I do not see how adding Tebow makes the Patriots a better team. This is a franchise which prides itself on competing for championships. But New England took yet another step backward on Monday.