Tim Tebow will have more than the challenge of trying to beat Tom Brady and Bill Belichick this weekend when the Broncos meet the New England Patriots in the second round of the National Football League playoffs.
He’ll also be playing against the coach who drafted him in Denver.
Josh McDaniels, who used a first-round pick on Tebow in 2010, rejoined the Patriots this week as an offensive assistant. The former Broncos head coach was also the Patriots’ offensive coordinator from 2006 to 2008.
The hiring of McDaniels came the same day Tebow led the Broncos to an upset win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the playoffs. Tebow yesterday tried to downplay the insights his former coach may bring to the Patriots for Denver’s visit on Jan. 14.
“I’m happy for him and his new situation,” Tebow said on a conference call. “It’s not about that. It’s about the Broncos versus the Patriots and it’s about us going into a hostile environment and trying to play a good game and playing a great team and playing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.”
Brady, who’s won three Super Bowl titles as the Patriots’ quarterback, said McDaniels’s experience in Denver will be a benefit as New England prepares for Tebow and the Broncos.
“He obviously has some inside information on that team and those players, as he coached them,” Brady said two days ago during his weekly radio appearance with WEEI in Boston. “Coach Belichick has a pretty good idea of what he’s going to want Josh to do.”
Broncos coach John Fox said the idea of McDaniels giving the Patriots an added advantage is “a lot about nothing.”
New England, the top seed in the American Football Conference after going 13-3 in the regular season, is favored by 13 1/2 points, according to oddsmakers.
“He doesn’t even know our offense,” Fox said when asked about McDaniels. “Our offense is completely different.”
Belichick said Tebow and the Broncos offense present a unique challenge for his defense, which ranked next-to-last in the NFL in total yards and passing yards allowed this season. Tebow passed for a career-high 316 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 29-23 overtime win against Pittsburgh, which had the top-ranked defense in the NFL.
“They’re a tough team to prepare for because they do a lot of different things,” Belichick said at a news conference. “There aren’t really any other teams like them in the league, so there’s no other team you can really draw that experience from. You can try to simulate it in practice and play against it, but it’s a little bit different.”
The Last Time
The Broncos had a 16-7 lead against the Patriots in their Dec. 18 meeting in Denver before committing three second-quarter turnovers and losing 41-23. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Broncos, who rushed for 167 yards against New England in the first quarter.
Tebow rushed for two scores while passing for 194 yards in that game and said he’s looking forward to facing the Patriots again. He said Denver doesn’t need the motivation of being a heavy underdog or facing a former coach.
“Just playing the Patriots is enough motivation for us. Going to Foxboro and playing Tom Brady, playing Bill Belichick, that’s enough,” Tebow said. “Let alone it’s a huge playoff game, so all those things added up, I’m sure there will be a lot of motivation.”