Re: Impact of Brandon Tate
posted at 9/4/2011 9:26 AM EDT
In Response to Impact of Brandon Tate
[QUOTE]Saw this comment on ESPNBoston and thought I'd share it here from an article on Brandon Tate. After returning 18 kicks for 601 yards (33.4 yards per return) and two touchdowns over the first four weeks of the 2010 season, Tate returned 28 kicks for 564 yards (20.1 yards per return) in 12 games after. To add some context to Tate's return stats..... After the first four weeks, teams began kicking away from Tate - which is how those 15 other players got their touches on kickoffs. Three more kickoffs to these "up" men went OB ( more profit from teams kicking away from the threat Tate represented). Ten of Tate's 28 returns in the last 12 games came against MIN and DET. They were the only two teams to kick freely to Tate, both had very good return coverage units last season and they kept Tate under 19 yds/KR. As for the rest: CLE: kicked to Tate once for 32 yds and then kicked short four times PIT: kicked to Tate twice for a 31.5yd avg IND: kicked to Tate 3x for a 29yd avg (and then kicked short twice) NYJ: kicked to Tate twice for a 29yd avg GBY: kicked to Tate once for 27 yds, then kicked short 3x, yielding Connolly's history-making return BUF: kicked to Tate once for 23yds, then kicked short MIA: kicked to Tate once for 22 yds, then kicked one OB in an attempt to kick short BAL and SD kicked to Tate 3x between them and kept him relatively in check (23yd avg), but each also kicked one OB on attempts to kick short. Bottom line is that, after Tate established himself as a serious return threat in the first four games, 10 of the remaining 12 opponents gave Brady an average starting field position out beyond the 30 yd line rather than kick to Tate. I understand why Tate was cut, he had shown no talent at WR and the kickoff rules changed. Tate is the NCAA's all time leader in Kickoff, punt return average.
In 2009 the Pats used a variety of returners who were not very good. The Pats did not even make the stat sheet in yards per return which only goes out to the top 33. Their best returner was Moroney with 279 yards, Tate had 1,057 yards in 2010. The Patriots returned 56 kicks last year, I think you could safely say that Tate's impact led to an increase in field position by about 10 yards per kickoff over the year before. Kickoff returns account for about 15% of a teams yards meaning they have a greater impact than any WR. I think the new rule will negatively impact the Patriots as much as any team.
Posted by shenanigan[/QUOTE]
I agree 100% that Tate did improve the Pats kick return game last year and the rule changes clearly hurt Tate.
However, I did want to debunk a myth (I've seen versions of this posted a couple of times). Tate's career kick return average at North Carolina was a pedestrian 24.7 and his career punt return average was 10.6. Neither figure is anywhere near the top of the career NCAA averages. In fact, just looking at 2000-2011 NCAA stats, he would be 65th in KO return average and 81st in punt return average (behind guys like Asante Samuel and Wes Welker). Even looking at total yards for that period he is 15th in KO return yards and 55th in punt return yards (Welker is #1 for that timeframe). That said, he did return 6 kicks for TDs in four years at North Carolina, but his 3 KO return TDs still only ties him with a ton of guys for 13th and his 3 punt return touchdowns only tie him for 38th (along with Matt Slater at UCLA and many others) during the 2000-2011 timeframe. So he was effective, but his career KO return/punt return #s are not elite.
If you look at NCAA records that include seasons before 2000 he doesn't even rate in any category. My point is he was an effective kick returner in college and showed flashes early last year, but even if the rules changes hadn't taken effect I'm not sure he would have been an elite NFL kick returner over the long haul. A good one yes, but an elite one, I don't think so.