Happy Monday, Patriots Nation!
Indeed, it is a happy one for all us Patriots fans!
The last time the New England Patriots played the Miami Dolphins, many of us were at Gillette Stadium. Things were a little different. Actually, things were a lot different; and that has nothing to do with this awful COVID-19 pandemic.
As much as the change at quarterback was glaringly obvious there were more subtle changes to note. I expect that you will read plenty in regards to the game and its breakdown. However, for those of you that would like a little bit of special zone coverage, in particular numbers 85 and 86 then sit back, relax, maybe grab yourself a nice cup of coffee (many other beverages are available) and let us dive right in to what the Patriots 2020 tight end action looked like.
Unfortunately, number 44 Dalton Keene, the possible tight end/H back hybrid, was an unsurprising, but still disappointing addition to the game day inactive list. I am sure I am not speaking out of turn when I say we all hope he will be good to go soon and back on the field in the near future.
Possibly due to the absence of Keene, we saw sixth round draft pick Mike Onwenu contribute to four snaps as an eligible tight end providing some blocking as well of course in his primary role of back up right tackle.
For those of you fortunate enough to watch the game, I need not advise you that the use of Devin Asiasi was disappointing. I am also sure that it doesn’t take a tight end enthusiast to realize he was barely on the field. In fact in the first half he played approximately five snaps and really only produced a smidgen of blocking.
Not what was anticipated, I’ll bet?
From what I recall, he missed some practice time. Perhaps, the kid was nursing an injury? In any case, I am not ready to take my not-so-sharp eye off him yet. I urge you not to either.
So, we are on to Izzo .( do you like what I did there?) Ryan Izzo, in his third year with the New England Patriots, may have done exactly what I was hoping that he would do post Gronk, circa 2019. He stepped up somewhat in his role as a tight end.
Before those of you far less into Ryan Izzo than myself start getting cranky with me, I know he did not suddenly morph into the best tight end ever. However, it is the first game of the season and surely 2020 is all about the small victories?
In my humble opinion, Izzo upped his game tri-fold, playing all but one snap of the entire game. He blocked plenty, noticeably made holes for the run game, I’d like to mention in particular QB Cam Newton’s first few runs of the first quarter and he undertook a 25- yard YAC (yards after the catch) run. (I must confess, I love those plays). I could list off a number of blocking moves that he made, periods that he was in fact double teamed, holes that he created and times in which he was open… but, will not do that to you Patriots fans!
Instead I will urge you to remain positive about our tight end game. 2019 saw us pretty much without one; no disrespect whatsoever to Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse and the 2019 incarnation of Ryan Izzo. Still, it is a fact that cannot be denied. Another thing that can’t be denied is that we did see some plays made at the tight end position on Sunday. I, for one, hope that continues!
-Clare L. Cooper is a Special Contributor for Full Press Coverage. Her New England Patriots insight can be found @FPC_Patriots