Bill Belichick praises Tim Tebow

Updated: October 17, 2012, 1:52 PM ET
By Field Yates | ESPNBoston.com

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Tuesday called New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow a "valuable" player, highlighting both his offensive and special-teams versatility.

"We saw him play last year. He quarterbacked that team to the playoffs, (the) Denver (Broncos)," Belichick said of Tebow. "In addition to some of the quarterbacking things, he's done a lot of other things with the Jets, so, yeah, of course he's a valuable guy."

Despite not reaching the end zone yet this season, Tebow has forced opposing defenses to prepare for two quarterbacks leading up to matchups with the Jets.

"They've pretty much used him at every spot," Belichick said of Tebow's role in the offense. "He's played more quarterback than anything else, but he's also played running back, I would say tight end, he's also played a little bit of receiver. They put him in some different spots."

Tebow's versatility is particularly apparent while aligned at his natural position of quarterback, where Mark Sanchez is New York's starter.

"When he's the quarterback, he's the quarterback: He can run, he can throw, he can run the option, he can run their regular offense," Belichick said. "They can run Tebow-type plays that Denver ran last year, or that (offensive coordinator Tony) Sparano ran when he was in Miami."

After taking over as the starter in Denver early in the regular season in 2011, the Broncos restructured their offensive approach, catering to Tebow's strong running abilities. He finished the season with 660 yards on the ground and engineered Denver's run to an AFC West title.

Tebow has been used less frequently as a quarterback this year, but Belichick says he remains a player who must be accounted for whenever he is on the field.

"He doesn't always line up at quarterback when he's in there on offense, so you have to be ready to deal with him at other positions as well," he said. "He's a good runner, he's a strong runner, very strong. He's mobile in the pocket, (a) smart player, he can do a lot of different things. Different option plays and things like that, so you certainly have to be aware of him when he's in there."

Beyond his offensive duties, Tebow has served as the Jets' personal protector on the punt team. He completed a pass on a fake punt in Week 6, and has previously converted a fake punt as a runner this season.

"In the kicking game, he's dangerous because of the versatility, but it's really no different than any other punting situation in that you have to cover the eligible receivers," Belichick said.

"You have to be alert for them to snap the ball to the personal protector, and whether he ends up on a sweep or however they do it, those are things that you have to prepare for every week with your punt-return unit," Belichick continued. "The fact that it's him and he's a big strong guy who's a good runner and can throw the ball makes it -- he can do a little bit more than a lot of guys that are back there."

In two previous outings against the Patriots, both in 2011 with Denver, Tebow completed just 20 of 48 passes, failing to throw a touchdown in either game. He did, however, experience success against New England on the ground, rushing for 106 yards combined in the two games, including two rushing scores.

Tebow also has a strong connection to the Patriots organization this year, as current offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels drafted Tebow in the first round in 2010 while serving as the head coach of the Broncos. McDaniels was fired later that season and rejoined the Patriots in January after one season as the Rams' offensive coordinator.

Field Yates is a regular contributor for ESPNBoston.com.

Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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