It’s easy to form a quick opinion about a player, a team, or a position after watching a game without letting the season play out, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do in the weekly postgame “Rush to Judgment” feature here on Musket Fire.
After watching last night’s aerial masterpiece against the Miami Dolphins, one player that jumped out to me and likely the rest of America was TE Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez was drafted by the Patriots last season in the fourth round (113th overall) out of Florida. Last season before getting injured, Hernandez caught 45 passes for 563 yards and 6 touchdowns. That was in 14 games as a rookie in a complicated offensive system.
Tack on a year of experience and a clean bill of health and you have what you saw last night.
Hernandez gave the Dolphins’ coverage fits. He caught 7 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. The Fins are lucky it wasn’t worse. Hernandez was targeted 10 times, second only to Wes Welker (12). If Hernandez can keep up anywhere around that pace, he’s going to have a monster year. And who’s to say that he can’t?
Tom Brady is accurate enough to hit him most of the times he’s being targeted. Hernandez is too quick for most linebackers to cover, and too physical for most defensive backs to cover. I don’t want to say he’s uncoverable, but he poses some definite matchup problems for defenses, and it isn’t just the physical part that makes him scary. How New England uses Hernandez only works to his advantage. Sometimes he’s lined up as a traditional tight end, sometimes he’s in the backfield, and sometimes he lines up as a wide receiver. Hernandez is clearly an important cog in the game plan.
Can you say Pro Bowl? I think I just did.