Editor's Foreword: We're doing our training camp positional group analysis differently this year. Several of the writers are going to be taking on positional groups as the "positional coach" of that group. In a few weeks, we'll get together and pare down the 90 man roster to the final 53 man roster plus the 8 man practice squad. We'll be looking at roster balance, the ever important special teams, practice squad eligibility, as well as keeping our respective groups viable and deep. When we're done we'll present our final positional rosters detailing where we made our cuts and why.
Status of the position:
Tom Brady is the uncontested starter at the position and it isn't even close. 3 rings, 5 Super Bowl appearances, multiple MVPs, All Pros, Pro Bowls, and holder of pretty much every QB record on the Patriots. The Patriots don't really retire numbers anymore, but I'm pretty sure they'll retire number 12 when Brady walks away from the game. Who else could come close to filling that jersey? 96.6 lifetime passer rating (a handful of perfect passer ratings in games), 3798 completions, 5958 attampts, 63.7% completion, 44,808 yards, 253.1 Y/G, 7.5 YPA, 334 TDs, 303 sacks (1.7 per game), and 123 Ints. Naturally, he's also a dual threat with his legs: 402 rushes for 748 yards, 4.2 Y/G, 1.9 YPA, 14 TDs. Ok, well, he's money on the QB sneak! He has also fumbled 75 times - about once every five games).
Ryan Mallett is fighting for the number 2 slot. He was a first round talent that fell to round three because of character concerns and possible drug problems. There hasn't been a hint of either of those with the Patriots as he has kept his nose clean. See what I did there? Mallett has played in 4 regular season games and all in 2012 during garbage time, where he sports a 5.2 QB Rating (53.5 game high). He has 1 completion in 4 attempts for a 25% completion. His one completion was for 17 yards, and he has a second completion to the defense for an INT. He has 8 rushes for -9 yards and 0 Fumbles - he was downing the ball to end the game. He has never been sacked. He has a cannon for an arm, and lacks touch on many throws. He is a work in progress.
Tim Tebow is also fighting for the number 2 spot behind Brady, but really would settle for any spot that keeps him on an NFL roster. After his release by the Jets, who are paying Tebow FAR more in 2013 than the Patriots are this year, there was no interest by any team for Tebow until the Patriots decided to kick his tires. Tebow has played in 35 regular season games (almost 9 times as many as Mallett), and sports a 75.3 lifetime QB rating (with a high of 149.3 against the Vikings in 2011). He has 173 completions on 361 attempts (over 90 times the number passes Mallett has attempted) for a 47.9% completion. He has 2422 yards for 69.2 Y/G and 6.7 YPA, 17 TD's, 41 sacks (1.2 per game) and 9 Ints as a QB. He also has 197 rushes for 989 yards, 28.2 Y/G, 5.0 YPA, 12 TD's and 14 Fumbles - one every two and a half games. Tebow is primarily a read option QB that can make plays with his legs.
Tom Brady is only going to come out of the game when we are either so far ahead, the game can't be lost, or we are so far behind, the game can't be won. If we have to rely on another QB due to injury, then our playoff hopes are likely crushed. We're fresh out of plucky sixth rounders on the roster.
Tom is the starter and it isn't even close. He has an elite grasp of the game, can make every throw with precision and touch, and can elude pressure in the pocket better than almost every other QB to ever play the game. He is a first ballot Hall of Famer and in the discussion for the Greatest Of All Time at the position. You just don't ask a guy like that to leave the field before the clock says 0:00.
We're looking for somewhere around 2 to 3 quarterbacks. We've carried three before when one of them was also the FG holder. The question is whether there is enough value on special teams or scout team to carry three QBs.
Mallett has survived QB battles before, but he hasn't really shown immense progress while in the system. If you are looking for the guy that looks most like Tom Brady, he is it. Tebow on the other hand has more experience in actual NFL games by a long shot, although it doesn't always translate to the field. For all of the games he has played, he still takes a long time to make reads. With O-line depth as thin as ours is, both backups are going to have to get up closer to Brady's speed to last long in actual games.
Tebow has played as punt protector with the Jets (they did SOMETHING right), and might have some value on the scout team versus read option QBs. Mallett would have likely have more value on the scout team versus pocket passers. Neither QB has shown anything to suggest they would have trade value. Tebow does offer some additional value, perhaps, in that teams that play us have to prepare for the read option. Would they give up time preparing for Brady to do that? Who knows?
Roster Locks (barring injuries):
His job to lose:
Ryan Mallett (as the incumbent)
Strong showing coming into camp:
Too talented to lose:
/ more crickets
Outside looking in:
Tim Tebow (as the challenger)
As much time as they are devoting to the Tebow Experience, including special QB draw plays and such, it is entirely possible that Tebow makes the final 53. I'm not saying likely, just possible. Whether that is in addition to Mallett or in place of Mallett is conjecture that I fully expect to see in the discussion. Who do you think makes the final roster?