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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain
Each Wednesday throughout the season we'll identify one player, coach or area of the team that is most under the microscope. This week, WR Brandon Tate is the choice.
This is slightly unfair. The Patriots don't need huge games from Tate to win, as proven the past two weeks, and he obviously was not going to turn into a top deep threat overnight. But with struggles on offense last week against the Chargers and all the hype surrounding Tate after the Randy Moss trade, it's time for the second-year player to step up.
Behind the reasoning to part ways with Moss was the hope that Tate would be the deep threat of the future. He has shown his speed on two kickoff returns for touchdowns this season, and fantasy owners snatched him up before Week Six.
Tate had 11 catches for 135 yards in the first four games. Since Moss left town, we expected Tate to see his targets increase, but he has just one catch for three yards while being targeted seven times in two games. He did have a 22-yard run on a reverse in Week Six.
The Chargers did a good job taking WRs Wes Welker and Deion Branch out of the game. If Tom Brady had a deep option with Tate, they could have kept the defense a little more honest. TE Aaron Hernandez is still finding himself open and getting targets, but Tate is a guy whom the Patriots want to get the ball to in the open field.
Facing the Vikings on Sunday, we are going to shine that microscope on Tate and see if he can produce. Not only has he been nonexistent in the passing game, but he has not had a huge kickoff return of late, although opposing placekickers have been booting the ball away from him.
If teams take a page from the Chargers and find ways to take away Brady's short-passing game, that's when Tate can be unleashed down the sideline. But it has not happened yet, and we (along with Tate's fantasy owners) are waiting for him to explode onto the scene.