When Ryan Mallett went down on a hard hit by two Philadelphia Eagles defenders in the second quarter, the Eagles' home crowd cheered once the New England Patriots' third-string quarterback trotted in.
If nothing else, Tebow livened up the second half of the Patriots' preseason opener. The bad news for Tebow and his many fans is he looked as awful as ever at quarterback.
On Tebow's first play, he held the ball about four seconds before finally misfiring to Aaron Dobson. His second play, he led Zach Sudfeld too much for another incompletion. On his third play he didn't react quickly to the blitz and was sacked by three Eagles.
The second pass was incomplete, but at least it came out on time. That was rare for Tebow on Friday night, as he still is obviously not developed in reading a defense and getting rid of the ball.
One third-quarter sequence summed up the good and the bad with Tebow. He's a great athlete and a huge runner, and on a designed third-down off-tackle run he broke a couple tackles, got the first down, and it took multiple Eagles to bring him down. Then on the next play, a well-timed play-action pass, he had Dobson wide open off the run fake. He was looking Dobson's way. But he held the ball and held the ball, and finally took a sack. It was the kind of play a NFL quarterback has to make.
Tebow's best moments came on read-option plays. Whenever he had to make a fairly routine pass that a fourth-year quarterback should be able to make, it was painful to watch. Any progress he made as a quarterback in Denver (and he did throw for 316 yards in a playoff win against Pittsburgh once, it should be noted), seems to have completely left him during a nightmare 2012 season with a Jets coaching staff that can't develop quarterbacks and never seemed to want him around. He finished the game against the Eagles 4-of-12 for 55 yards.
Mallett has a head injury, and it's too early to tell if he'll be out a while. The Patriots have just three quarterbacks on the roster, so it might mean a lot more preseason playing time for Tebow. Given how he looked against the Eagles, he might need the extra time to make a better impression and earn a job.