Some things just don’t make sense in this world. One of them is why Zach Sudfeld was essentially a non-factor for the New England Patriots in week one.
After all of the preseason talk, hype, and hyperbole, the best healthy tight end on the Patriots’ roster played just 19 snaps in yesterday’s game against the Buffalo Bills. Now we all know that Sudfeld is behind Michael Hoomanawanui on the depth chart, but the reason why is unclear. Maybe it’s because Sudfeld fumbled the ball in the all-important third preseason game against the Detroit Lions. He never seemed to get much action after that. Still, this move does not seem to be a smart one, especially if it is permanent.
Let’s start with Sudfeld’s upside. He has the size, speed and athleticism to be a part of a league where tight ends continue to get more attention. Not only that, but Sudfeld is known for his good blocking as well. The only reason that he was an undrafted free agent was because he had so many injuries in college. Sure, those injuries may have zapped some of his explosiveness, but Sudfeld seems to be healthy enough. And if there was ever a chance that his upside could be discovered, it would be working with an elite quarterback like Tom Brady. Simply put, he needs to play more for this to happen.
Josh McDaniels‘ love obsession with Hoomanawanui needs to end quickly. The young tight end didn’t show much in his time with McDaniels and the St. Louis Rams, and he hasn’t shown much with the Patriots either. We all know that he can block, but he is no threat in the receiving game. A strict blocking tight end like Hoo Man should at best be the third tight end on a team’s roster. He should have been the fourth tight end on this team’s roster, especially considering the heavy use of two-tight end sets in the past.
McDaniels needs to move back to the tight-end-heavy passing attack that former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien made famous in 2010. Brady is at his best when he is throwing intermediate passes, and that’s where good tight ends make their money. The only way that this is going to work is if Sudfeld gets integrated into the passing game. If that doesn’t happen, we very well may continue to see more substandard offensive performances from the Pats.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.