Patriots

Bedard’s Breakdown II: Mohamed Sanu’s productive night was fine, but just leave it at that for now

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Earlier this week I wrote and said on radio that I thought Mohamed Sanu's "coming out party" for the Patriots was overrated. Figured I'd clarify and explain it — thoughtful nuance alert — since anything short of a tongue bath is considered "hating" a player or being overly negative. BLEH

Neither is true. Sanu did fine catching 10 of his 14 targets for 81 yards (8.1 yards-per-catch average) and a touchdown. Considering it was his first real game action and the opponent, it was a good, solid game.

But the Patriots are going to need a lot more, and for Sanu to be a lot more dangerous to really help this offense and be worthy of a second-round pick. Something along the lines of Emmanuel Sanders' second game with the 49ers on a short week: seven catches on nine targets 112 yards (16.0 average) and one touchdown. You felt like he was a threat on any given play. A weapon for his quarterback. This Patriots offense doesn't just need someone to catch the ball on 5-yard hitches and slow-developing low crossers — they have those — they need someone who might break a tackle and go for 20-plus yards.

I mean, look at this route tree. How is this going to do anything but compact the defense when Tom Brady is looking to pass?

And here's Brady's spray chart, without much of a pass rush and the aid of the no-huddle defense and a middling Ravens defense.

Brady attempted 7 passes beyond 10 yards. He completed two.

That's not totally unusual for the Patriots. We've seen then operate a spread offense that hits things quickly. But the difference was you feared basically any of their targets (hello Gronk) breaking a tackle and busting a 50-yard gain. Or even 20.

Sanu may be very capable of delivering more playmaking the longer he is in this offense. Even though he's never really been that, we don't know. We, or at least I, can only go on what I see. And what I saw were a bunch of simple receptions that just about anyone could make.

A breakdown of Sanu's night:

FIRST QUARTER

2-10-NE 25 (8:10) (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Brady pass incomplete deep middle to M.Sanu [M.Pierce].

In what looked like a planned deep shot against a specific Ravens look (Brady changed the play at the line), Brady heaves a deep pass that doesn't have much of a chance as he's hit. He missed Julian Edelman coming wide open underneath. Might not have seen him with the pass rush.

3-10-NE 25 (8:04) (Shotgun) T.Brady pass incomplete short right [E.Thomas].

Brady was under a lot of pressure, but I don't think that he was thrilled that Sanu