Tough Season Continues For Patriots Rookie Tight Ends In Week 15 Loss

Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi had a rough Week 15


Dec 20, 2020

The New England Patriots’ Week 15 defeat at the hands of the Miami Dolphins couldn’t have gone much worse for rookie tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene.

Asiasi, who still doesn’t have a reception on the season, got an early target — slightly high and slightly behind him — that bounced off of his hands for an incompletion. Quarterback Cam Newton didn’t look his way the rest of the game.

Newton threw incomplete to Keene in the fourth quarter. He completed a 2-yard pass to Keene later in the final period that the rookie tight end promptly fumbled. Patriots running back James White jumped on the loose ball for the recovery.

They combined for one 2-yard catch on three targets with a fumble and a drop despite receiving all of the Patriots’ tight end snaps.

Keene now has two catches for 10 yards on three targets with a fumble. Asiasi hasn’t caught a pass on two targets. That’s all season.

Starting tight end Ryan Izzo has been out of the picture and on injured reserve for the past two weeks. Asiasi and Keene, both 2020 third-round picks, are receiving snaps, they’re just not receiving passes.

It’s been something of a nightmare season for the two rookies filled, with injury and tragedy. Asiasi got banged up in training camp, dressed for the Patriots’ first five games but wasn’t targeted until Week 14. The UCLA product was a healthy scratch in Week 7, missed Week 8 for personal reasons (the death of a close family friend) then was placed on injured reserve. He spent time with his family to mourn his friend before being activated last week.

Keene came into the season with a neck injury, sat through several healthy scratches and didn’t make his NFL debut until Week 7, when he caught an 8-yard pass. He suffered a knee injury, missed Weeks 8 and 9 then was placed on injured reserve before being activated Week 13. His 2-yard catch-and-fumble was just his second reception of the season.

If one of the two rookie tight ends had stood out this season, then New England probably could forgo addressing the position this offseason. But as it stands, the Patriots have more questions than answers at tight end, and if a free agent like Hunter Henry or top prospect like Kyle Pitts is available for New England, then they should probably snatch him up to ensure future production at the position.

It hasn’t helped Asiasi and Keene’s production that the Patriots don’t throw the ball often, and when Newton passes, he tends to lock on to wide receivers Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd.

Izzo, Asiasi, Keene, and Matt LaCosse, who opted out for the 2020 season, all are under contract next year. The Patriots have received little production out of their tight ends for the last two years, and one way to make their offense more high-powered would be to upgrade that role.

The Patriots will either need to hope for dramatic improvements out of their current crop of tight ends or look outside the organization for more help.

Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores
Previous Article

Why Patriots Fans Should Root For Dolphins Coach Brian Flores Moving Forward

Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Next Article

Clyde Edwards-Helaire Injury: X-rays Negative For Chiefs Rookie RB

Picked For You