Tim Tebow's last chance in the NFL could be with the Patriots.
(Photo: Debby Wong, USA TODAY Sports)
As a veteran of the Tim Tebow circus, former Denver Broncos safety Brian Dawkins saw only one possible destination for Tebow to try to relaunch his NFL career: New England.
"This is a perfect fit," Dawkins told USA TODAY Sports on Monday after Tebow signed with the Patriots. "If it doesn't work this time, I don't see anyone else that will give him a chance."
Dawkins was a Broncos defensive captain when former head coach Josh McDaniels used a first-round pick on Tebow in 2010 and was the Broncos' locker room leader when Tebow led the Broncos on a 7-4 run to win the AFC West in 2011.
He saw Tebow's flaws as a quarterback, but also saw Tebow's uncanny ability to succeed late in close games, when Dawkins said he saw Tebow stop thinking and just start playing.
In New England, Dawkins sees a chance for Tebow to quietly work on developing as a quarterback, on improving his foot work and throwing mechanics and working on being able to better identify and read NFL defenses, while under no pressure to be the team's starting quarterback.
But Dawkins said the Patriots' coaching staff, with McDaniels and head coach Bill Belichick, will have the imagination to find ways to use Tebow that don't involve taking quarterback Tom Brady off the field.
"Josh is all about packages. That's what I remember," Dawkins said.
Indeed, most of the snaps Tebow took with the Broncos before McDaniels was fired in early December 2010 came as a change-of-pace quarterback behind starter Kyle Orton, or in designed plays in short yardage situations or in the red zone.
"He needed to go somewhere where he can work on what he needs to work on behind closed doors, and to do it with someone who believes in him," Dawkins said. "Josh believes in him."
Though the intense media attention and fervent fan base will follow Tebow now to New England, Dawkins said Patriots players will soon meet a likable new teammate.
"He's a good dude, a hardworking guy," Dawkins said. "As far as a teammate, he was cool with me. There was harmony in our locker room."
Lindsay H. Jones, USA TODAY Sports