Zach Sudfeld's Departure Step In Wrong Direction For New England Patriots

By philipalexander
Zach Sudfeld
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

If you haven’t already heard, former New England Patriots tight end Zach Sudfeld was waived a couple of days ago. Naturally, he now plays for the New York Jets. Despite what team Sudfeld ended up on, it was a little early and foolish to give up on a young player so quickly.

Sure, Sudfeld had yet to produce in his brief time with the Patriots. He had zero catches through four games. What probably didn’t endear Sudfeld to head coach Bill Belichick was his botched recovery on an onside kick attempt against the Atlanta Falcons. Nevertheless, Sudfeld really didn’t get much of a chance to prove or even redeem himself.

Clearly Sudfeld was not much part of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels‘ game plan. The young tight end was barely on the field and rarely got a shot to produce. Quarterback Tom Brady only threw Sudfeld’s way three times in four games. Two of those three targets were Brady’s fault. Sudfeld was overthrown on one of them and then saw another throw go completely to the right of him, resulting in an interception. The third target also resulted in an interception, which was Sudfeld’s fault. He tripped and still tried to make the catch, but the ball instead deflected off of his hands and got picked off.

Young players don’t get much of a chance in today’s NFL. Most of them are one mistake away from being benched. In Sudfeld’s case, he is gone after two-thirds of his failed opportunities were really on his All-Pro quarterback. So why is Sudfeld taking the fall?

McDaniels doesn’t want to run a two-tight end offense. He inherited it from former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and now appears to be moving away from it. Maybe that has to do with the fact that the Patriots roster features more quality players at the wide receiver position, but it doesn’t hurt to have depth at either position. Plus, the two-tight end offense is still very young since it was discovered by O’Brien in 2010. It’s not time to give up on that yet.

Speaking of giving up, that’s what appears to have happened to Sudfeld. His mistakes cost him. It’s almost like Sudfeld was expected to produce like a veteran in his prime. Sudfeld had probably earned a demotion on the depth chart, but it was unfair to give up on such a young player so soon. It sends the wrong message, and shows that Belichick and his people are very impatient when it comes to giving young players a chance.

Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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