Spotlight On Patriots Tate Shows The Light May Be Dimming

Ian Logue
September 02, 2011 at 01:57am ET

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Taking a look at Brandon Tate's performance Thursday night, he had another tough night during New England's 18-17 loss to the Giants and it's going to be interesting to see if he survives the final roster cutdown.

Tate may not have done enough to secure a roster spot Thursday night. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

Tate pretty much played the entire game, and he was a guy who I spotlighted on the DVR tonight, and here are some observations I noted during this one:


- Tate had a less than stellar kick-return following the Giants first field goal after taking the ball out from 6 yards deep in the endzone out to the New England 10.   Clearly he was pressing and the coverage was such that he should have simply taken a knee.

- On Brian Hoyer's first targeted attempt to Tate, he couldn't quite catch-up with the deep pass and it fell incomplete.  On the play he seemed like he looked back a bit too soon and slowed down slightly, and it was a big opportunity to help out his team at the time.  On that play Hoyer was backed up at the 2 and took the shotgun snap in the endzone when he made the deep attempt.

- Hoyer also targeted him later on on a deep ball toward the end of the half and Tate didn't do a great job of going up and trying to make a play on the ball.  That was a great chance for the 6'1" receiver to out jump the defensive back and make the grab - and make a big play for his team - and unfortunately Tate couldn't do it.

- One good move, Tate wisely took a touchback to start the second half.

- The Patriots also gave him an opportunity to return a punt with a little over 4-minutes left in the 3rd, and he ran left after making the catch but was quickly tracked down by Zach DeOssie (the long snapper and son of Steve DeOssie) for a loss of -1 yards.  Not exactly the best thing in the world for a receiver to get run down from behind by a long-snapper.

- Tate also failed to run down Da'rel Scott on the fake punt to start the 4th quarter, with Scott taking it into the endzone to cut the lead to 17-10 just :10 seconds into the 4th.  Tate was the last guy standing on that play as he was back waiting for the punt, but that's a situation that could have happened during the regular season, and will likely be a negative mark against him.

- Tate finally had a decent kickoff return, following up the Giants touchdown with a kick return he fielded from 4-yards deep in the endzone, returning it 25-yards to the Patriots 21 yard line.

- Tate did the wise thing on his next punt return, making a fair catch on a ball that he had no chance of returning.

- Following the Giants touchdown and 2 point conversion to put them up 18-17, Tate caught the ball on the ensuing kickoff at the goal line and returned it 17-yards.  On the return Tate turned and ran directly into the man in coverage, and missed an opportunity to potentially grab a few more yards.

- Tate Failed to block his guy downfield on a run by teammate Richard Medlin, and that player, Giants cornerback Joe Burnett, was in on the tackle.

- On another punt return Tate ran right, and had absolutely no chance to get away from the coverage, returning it just two yards.

- Tate made another halfhearted effort blocking downfield again on Burnett, who again was in on the tackle.

- On the final drive of the game, Tate drew a penalty on a 4th & 35 play on the team's final drive thanks to a blow to the head penalty on the Giants after Tate was struck by Williams.  

- Doing a rewind through some of the previous plays on that ugly final drive, you could see he wasn't really doing a great job of getting open, although neither were some of the other back-ups who were in at that point. The problem is to make this team, Tate needed to establish himself as a guy who was better than those guys, and watching those final minutes where Ryan Mallett got beaten up was tough.


After watching the success he had in the return game last year, as well as seeing how good he was in college, tonight's disappointing performance is hard to swallow when you consider what just seems to be a waste of potential.

Unfortunately, Tate didn't do much to give himself a chance to standout tonight, and to make matters worse, he actually watched one of his teammates step-up, and to a certain extent it was at his expense.  Where this came into play was in another part of the game that often goes unnoticed.

One key thing worth noting after re-watching a portion of the first half was the fact that during running plays, Matthew Slater, was far more aggressive when it came to blocking the defensive backs out of the play.  As nice as that 64 yard grab was by Slater, when you're battling for a spot on the roster, it's the little things that can sometimes make the difference, and unfortunately Tate really didn't play with the type of intensity on every play compared to Slater that he could have.

Slater also made an open field tackle on special teams, and the fake punt where Tate didn't put himself in position to stop Scott from getting into the endzone is likely something that's going to hurt him.  Slater really emerged as a guy who could potentially contribute occasionally when needed this season in the passing game.  But more importantly he works hard on every play, whether he's getting the ball or if they're running the football - and that's clearly a big advantage that will go in his favor.

Needless to say it wasn't the night Tate needed to have, and one would believe that his days are likely numbered.