Tight End: quick way to right Jacksonville’s listing ship?

Jacksonville Tight end

Jacksonville fans are looking for answers to stop another week of sub-par performance. Maybe another tight end is the answer? Two teams who recently made last minute winning drives, used extra protections.

In the case of New England*, they employ extra running backs and in Green Bay it’s using three tight ends. Those two teams have a common issue – a need to help their quarterbacks.

Tom Brady no longer can toss the ball longer than ten yards and be consistently accurate and Aaron Rodgers needs an extra body to protect his.

Why say tight end instead of running back? Because an experienced tight end gives the biggest bang for the buck.

Blake Bortles needs help and getting Leonard Fournette back won’t solve everything because the offensive line is so banged up. Not to mention, I think if they play him too soon, he’ll end up on injured reserve. While a good running back can aid in his OL doing better, they still need to be healthy.

Enter the tight end. He can block, catch and did I say, block? We also saw a tight end act as a running back Monday night in Green Bay and run with the ball. The beauty of tight ends is how versatile they can be in the right plans.

The chicken or the egg?

Does a tight end help an offense/quarterback or does the quarterback make the tight end? When Phillip Rivers was learning, did he make Antonio Gates or did Gates help him succeed? That can be debated for a while, but what we do know is Jacksonville hasn’t ever had a stud tight end.

Mark Brunell has been the closest quarterback that could be called successful and even his completion percentage rarely went over 60%. Maybe tight end should be a higher priority?

Tight End Stats

There is one TD from TE’s in Jacksonville. One. The three tight ends combined, have 240 yards, 17 first downs. Two of them, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul account for the TD and 11 of the downs – both now on Injured Reserve. Did they add anyone to the 53 man roster, except bringing up David Grinnage from the practice squad? No. That leaves only James O’Shaughnessy and Grinnage.

Patrick Mahones has Travis Kelce and his 468 yards. Vance McDonald and Jesse James in Pittsburgh have 548 yards and 24 first downs. Of the top five offenses, only the Rams and Chargers have used their tight ends little and that’s because their receivers and catching running backs are tearing it up.

However, they are out there blocking, giving their QB’s time, plus they do add an extra wrinkle. It’s tough for defenses to defend good TE’s. If a team double teams them, it leaves an open wide receiver.

Gronk has 405 yards, and 17 first downs. As Carson Wentz eases back in, he’s targeted Zach Ertz 67 times, racking up 24 first downs. Tampa Bay has OJ Howard and Cameron Brate in the top 20 and they have 5 TD’s. The Colts have a losing record, but without Eric Ebron, they’d be 0-5 and not given any team a run for their money. He has 16 first downs, six TD’s and 326 yards.

This lack of tight end depth in Jacksonville should be addressed. The Oline is hurt, Fournette isn’t going to make everything all better. He has as much power as a bandaid on an arterial bleed. Adding some beef that can block, catch and maybe even run will help.

Many have mentioned trading Donte Fowler, Jr., for a few different positions, maybe TE could also be an option? There are a few teams with serious issues on defense who might be open to that thought. Give up some offense for more defense, which in turn would make them need less offense.

The NFL is about acheiving the right balance, teams that do, are still playing through January. At this moment, the Jaguars are listing and a tight end may help right the ship.

 

Learn about Stem Routes and why running them well helps the quarterback: Football 101

Over the last two seasons, we’ve seen inconsistent quarterbacking, but the receivers (and tight ends) weren’t consistently performing at their top-level. Plus, the depth behind them was poor. A very good QB can overcome, but weak play from receivers only compounds poor quarterbacking.

Why bring this up with Stem Routes? Because the Stem of a route begins the moment the wide receiver (or TE) pushes off. The black line below is the stem. As mentioned in the option route piece, WRs need to sell every route as looking the same. Running a Stem sounds simple: run until you turn (make break). It’s not.

*to note: this is Football 101, simple is used. Many sentences can use the words, usually or typically.

At the LOS, most plays will have a CB line up against them, either in soft press, hard press or off man (seven or so yards back from the LOS). That CB wants to mirror his guy, read his hips and respond. A good WR is able to keep his hips pointing one direction, sink them, plant his outside (or inside foot), and turn on a dime before the CB can react.

This creates separation.
It’s important to know that while the Stem starts at the line of scrimmage, mentally it begins much sooner: in the film room. Receivers need to know the CB’s who will be covering them. If he is an aggressive guy who likes to play hard press, then that first push at the LOS could be a step back. Why?

As covered in hard press, the CB wants to jam his guy, disrupt his timing so the route is shot. When the ball is snapped, the good WR takes a step back and lets his CB come at him, then pushes him aside and bam, he gone.

Remember in press, the hips don’t lie? The stem is all about the hips. If a receiver can get his hips inside, he’s open. That’s the size of an NFL window—the width of a pair of hips.

The dance between the WR and CB is all about who can get their hips to lie, read their opponents (and QB) and get the other to bite.

Rookie receivers tend to struggle with that part. They can run a route, catch the ball, but the ability to do what Diggs does in the below play, is tough to come by. Selling the stem and making the cut against the #1 CB.

Have a QB who can’t throw a rocket or on a dime, but still manages to make good plays? He has receivers who help him by creating space they can maneuver in. If the ball is a tad slow or off by a foot because there is separation, it lessens the chance of an interception. It also allows the receiver to adjust to the ball since there’s no defender draped over him.

Seasoned CB’s know which QBs struggle and they will try to jump a route, this makes selling the stem that more important. Get the CB to bite on a dig, but run a post, etc.

The below gif was against Aqib Talib in 2015 (who was tops), Stephon Diggs was a rookie in his first game against the top corner that season. Diggs keeps his head straight, his hips straight, plants his leg wide as if he’s going to go inside and instead runs an out route. Gets Talib to turn his hips out. Perfection.

Good Stem Routes should create separation.

My guess is Talib got over-confident. Didn’t expect this from some 21-year-old kid, so he got burned. That step sold it, look at all that space. The crappiest of crappy QBs can look like heroes if their WRs can give that barn door-sized window.

Jacksonville needs their young receiving corps of Marqise Lee, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook and rookie DJ Chark to play at Diggs’ level who’s even better now. One step is all it takes to help or hurt Bortles.

Another trick WR’s can do on their Stems is a double (or triple) move. They can be used at any depth; it’s all about where the WR thinks he can shed his coverage. When he can get leverage off the hips, get the CB’s pointing away from where the route should end, he’s won. Even though he’s making more than one cut, it’s still the same stem because the route is about where the ball should be caught.

In summation, the stem is to trick the corner into going one way, while he goes another and to do that, he needs agility, speed, knowledge and a connection with his quarterback. Here’s to hoping our receiving corp can deliver.

Offensive Line: power vs zone – Football 101/201

Offensive Line: power vs zone. We’ve “talked” often about power gap and zone block offensive lines, but this article will go deeper.

Quick history lesson. The Denver Broncos introduced the ZBS to the NFL back in 1997 with Alex Gibbs. It’s all about the run, the quarterback is the ultimate game manager, hand the ball off and throw enough to keep defenses honest. Instead of the OL worrying about who to block, they just defend their zone. Tandems double team to create space for a back to run through.
This changed the type of offensive linemen teams wanted from big mammoths to smaller more agile guys. While most OL can play both, most teams draft/sign players to be one or the other.

This part will cover Offensive Line: power vs zone as Football 101

Power guys use their feet to plant and push power up and out is the simplest way to explain it. Sumo wrestlers whose motion is more north/south. 5 guys making a wall, worrying about protecting their gap and/or focusing on a particular player.They are made to protect the quarterback.

Whereas, Zone guys need quick feet because they often move laterally. They need to slide sideways while blocking, often hip to hip with their partner. Run-first teams want to push the DL in one direction while the RB goes the other OR the RB runs laterally behind the line and then cuts through a gap.

This changes the responsibility of the guards. He isn’t pulling for the RB because everyone is. While the line is moving in one direction, they can ignore blocking the guy farthest away from the play. This gives them the ability to also use tight ends efficiently. Does he block or catch?

Zone block scheme is dependent on a running back having great vision

When a lineman changes the torque on how he uses his body, some players will obviously be better than others at certain movements. Also, in zone, OL team up in duos, so communication is vital, they’re two guys taking on two.

Play action works great with this because a team doesn’t know if the QB is dropping back to hand off or throw. Also, ZBS lines don’t need to block long. The QB takes the snap, hands it off or often throws on the move behind the sliding line.
If the line makes a pocket for a pass, it’s more than likely going to break down quickly because they’re not made to block for 3-5 seconds. Hence quick passes are the name of the game.

Teams who throw 70% get their runs because teams back up to cover the pass and the back should have easy yards. No loaded box, it’s the element of surprise. Since these teams are built for passing, the pocket needs to hold so WRs can get depth and/or shake their defender.

The above is Football 101, it’s a simple explanation. Most sentences can have “usually” or “typically” slipped in it because there are all kinds of variances, but this is about teaching the basics.

This part is more Football 201 on Offensive Line: power vs zone

Below is more in-depth, but to understand it, you need to know the above. The reason we’re going into this is because I’m interested to see if the Jags use more or less ZBS based on how Blake Bortles and Fournette do.

Center or guard in a zone scheme
The center must be one of the smartest players on the field.  The point of using an inside zone run or an outside zone run is to get 4 hands on the defensive lineman, and 4 eyes on the linebacker. If the play is coming to his right, and the C has nobody on him (4-3 scheme), he knows he needs to work with the Right Guard.

This tandem will take the defensive lineman who’s lined up over the guard and the inside linebacker.  Neither knows which one is going to block yet, so at the snap they drive block the defensive lineman. If the ILB shows up in the A Gap, the Center should disengage from the defensive lineman and block that ILB.

If the ILB shows up in the B Gap, the guard will now disengage and block the ILB, while the Center stays on the DL. For this block to be effective, it is IMPERATIVE they 4 hands on the defensive lineman and 4 eyes on the ILB.  If they lose track of the ILB he will make the play.

Tackle in a zone scheme

A Backside Tackle (Left Tackle when the play is scheduled to go right) in a zone scheme, needs to be able to move his feet.  If he can’t help the backside Guard and climb up to the WLB, the line is in trouble. He must protect that B Gap while climbing the ladder to the WLB.

If done correctly, the RB has the ability to press the hole to his right, and if he sees a line, bend it back to the left.  It’s not a cutback as much as the defense is overloaded the right side. If he can get that backside blocked up well, there will be a natural lane to the left for the RB to use if he so chooses.

The Playside Tackle, depending on the front (in this instance, lets put a 5 Technique over him), has to work with the TE to block the DE and SLB.  Many times the TE Will end up climbing the ladder to the SLB, but this still needs to be a 4 hands on the DL, 4 eyes on the SLB.

This position requires toughness and the athletic ability to block strong and fast 5 techniques (read here about DL techniques) and not get pushed back.  It may be the hardest lineman to find, athletic enough to move your feet, and strong enough to take on a strong bull rush.

The whole genesis of the zone run scheme was to block 3 Defensive Lineman and 3 Linebackers with 5 Offensive Lineman and Tight End. Refuse to block the backside Defensive End, because he has contain and spill responsibilities. If he’s making the tackle, he needs to be running naked boots to his side as he’s getting way too nosy in the run game.

By putting 4 hands on the Defensive Lineman, they’ve given themselves the ability to not need 5 guys who weigh in at 315 pounds and can bench press a cow. Substitute some brute strength for a little more athletic ability.  6’6’’ 315 pound lineman who can bend and move and strike like a Pro Bowl caliber player are rare.

With the influx of collegiate talent coming in that are used to running more and more zone schemes, the NFL has diversified and put a lot of zone schemes right next to their G schemes. They’re running both which is one more thing for defensive coordinators stay up late at night to figure out what’s coming at them and when it’s gonna come. Good ones figure it out.
Offensive Line: power vs zone
Offensive Line: power vs zone

NFL Scouts: read what they look for in Offensive Linemen

Nfl scouting offensive linemen

In this NFL Scouting series, we will cover each position group, giving you a glimpse into what NFL franchises look for. In the real report I used, there are pictures of the player(s) in various movements, with comments about each. In order to keep anonymity for the Scout, I’m only using the words, no photos, or the handwritten notes used. Scouting offensive linemen gives you a glimpse into what happens in their world.

Unlike the QB report, this is one page, but there’s less to analyze with this position group than the guys under center. Even so, when scouting offensive linemen, not only do they put together these analyses, but visit games, watch film, analyze them at the combine, any bowls and often host them at their facilities.

While there was less to cover, they still went in-depth and beyond what the average fan would consider. Scouting offensive linemen gives the reader a chance to see inside the minds of what NFL general managers are looking for. Hopefully, this will help you watch the game with more detail and talk with knowledge.
They break down film, have them do whiteboard work, talk to coaches, etc. The actual report below is based on a player, had photos showing:

  • punch & let feet work vs grab & let feet recover
  • create/generate movement of LOS
  • uses good angles
  • contact balance/sustainability 
  • technically sound
  • on the ground?
  • can he drop hips/weight & anchor
  • positional leverage
  • sink weight (vs bull)

The report also had notes on all of the following:

Technique

  1. set
  2. punch
  3. mirror
  4. recover

Movement

  • 2nd level adjust
  • 2nd level engage/sustain
  • pull on a track (and adjust)
  • pull & trap
  • pull & lead around corner
  • pull & flip hips to seal short
  • lateral slide
  • response to counter move
  • cut blocker in space
  • linear footspeed
  • initial quickness to get position
  • best in 1st steps?
  • inside redirect
  • adjust when coming off doubles
  • slide adjust
  • short area quickness

Style

  • mauler
  • road grader
  • quick boxer
  • swing player (multiple positions)
  • short area (limited ability in space)
  • wide grabber/clamper
  • positional blocker
  • space athlete
  • drive blocker

How does he handle upfield speed? Can he sink & stop the Bull?
6’7″ or able = shows up in throwing lanes for QB
Get pulled on the edge, short arms?
This list was on a player (yes, in the NFL). There’s a lot of good, but some bad.

  • awareness (stunt/blitz)
  • ducks head
  • pad level good
  • gets overextended
  • top heavy
  • late to extend arms
  • explosion
  • sustain (on 1st contact)
  • short jab/arm extensions in pass pro
  • arms to leverage
  • pump arms in pass pro? (compressing for feet)
  • Hip sink/hip explosion
  • rolls hips on contact
  • hands (discipline)
  • placement/patience/timing/reset
  • works to re-position
  • heavy hands
  • active hands
  • punch
  • wide base/narrow base
  • lower body tightness
  • light in ass
  • knee bender vs waist bender
  • base strength/leverage
  • initial quickness
  • movement off ball
  • ankle bend
  • overset
  • heavy feet
  • linear foot speed

Scouting offensive linemen notes on several players:

OT-Like his punch. Very athletic. Gets to 2nd and 3rd level with ease. Almost too anxious in screen game. Nasty in drive blocks. Stays on his feet decently. Questionable leg strength. He’s beating inferior players.
G-Explosive and gets to 2nd level well. On the ground a lot. Not overly athletic. Stands tall in his pass block and doesn’t use his hands very well.
T-Athletic big man. Gets to second level well. For a big guy, has low center of gravity. Finishes blocks. Needs to work pass pro hand usage. Has some issues blocking in space. Wide body. Question leg strength. Not a road grinder.
G-Punisher on run blocks. Athletic enough on pass sets. Gets to 2nd level pretty well. Needs to lower set. Kinds gives a runway to mediocre pass rushers. Tips the play off with his stance.
What we have in all this is notes from several players, a kind of cheat sheet of what they look for and in the top section, an actual player. Hope this gives you more knowledge in watching training camps so you can see why some guys don’t make your team.

Any questions your can comment way down below. Or send a DM to @the_teal_zone. Thanks for reading.

Defensive Tackles – Read what an NFL Scouting report looks like.

defensive tackles

In this NFL Scouting series, we will cover each position group, giving you insight into what NFL franchises look for. The real report I based this on, had pictures of the player(s) in various movements, with comments about each. You may want to read the companion piece on the Offensive Line to see their counterparts.

To keep anonymity for the Scout, I’m only using the words, no photos, or the handwritten notes used. Scouting defensive tackles does give you a glimpse into what happens in their world.

When scouting defensive tackles, not only do scouts put together these analyses, but visit games, watch film, analyze them at the combine, any bowls and often host them at their facilities. DTs include nose guard/tackles, basically (but not always) anyone who plays the techniques between 0-5.

Scouts go in-depth and beyond what the average fan would consider. Scouting defensive tackles gives the reader a chance to see inside the minds of what NFL general managers are looking for. Hopefully, this will help you watch the game with more detail and talk with knowledge.

Players break down film, do whiteboard work, talk to coaches, etc. The actual report below is based on a player, it had notes and photos showing:

Defensive Tackles TYPES

  • 4-3 1 Tech
  • 4-3 3 Tech (versatility?)
  • 3-4 Tech (versatility?)
  • 3-4 NT

Movement

  • Bend
  • Ankle flexibility
  • 2 gap (lockout & press) vs 1 gap
  • strength to anchor?
  • left & right side of the ball?
  • disruptive?
  • motor
  • strength & POA hand tech

How do they scheme him? (Chip, Double W/TE, etc?)

When it comes to defensive tackles, the amount of data they want on them is impressive. For most fans, the “big uglies” just stand there pushing. (POA=Point of Attack) There’s far more to it. For each bullet below, will be notes on each. Scouts looks for:

  • Stack & control blocker w hands
  • plays under pads
  • uncoils
  • pursuit/range/chase speed
  • short area burst to close
  • zone blitz pass drop
  • counter technique
  • drive-bys(pocket)
  • can he play crossfire vs the cut?
  • can sift through trash (to get to ball carrier?)
  • has to win early? Or work to QB?
  • can get washed at POA
  • segmented as a pass rusher
  • can he anchor/hold edge
  • natural/fluid movements to QB
  • can only win inside
  • leaves a lot of sacks the filed
  • more a rusher than a sacker
  • gives up gap integrity
  • tackle in space/tackle power
  • chase/hustle

Power Rush

  • anticipation
  • take off
  • leverage/explosion
  • push the pocket/press
  • inside stunt/loop/twist

Speed Rush

  • edge
  • anticipation
  • burst
  • speed
  • flexibility
  • quickness to bend corner
  • close off blocks
  • outside stunts

Moves

  • club
  • rip
  • swat
  • spin

Mental/Body

  • snap count anticipation
  • instinct – feel schemes
  • read & react – awarness
  • on field alertness – screens/draws/etc
  • dip shoulder
  • pad level/plays high
  • exposes chest in run
  • contact balance
  • can bend and dip
  • short area quickness
  • clear hips
  • hand strength/speed/activity/tight moves
  • hands to shed
  • initial quickness
  • lateral movement/redirect
  • strength to constrict the block – tm
  • knee bend
  • close speed
  • range outside tackle box
  • slide/skate
  • ankle tightness
  • first step/feet quickness
  • clears feet
  • heavy feet

Does he:

  • win early or late or both
  • play within the scheme vs free lance
  • anchor hold vs double team
  • natural bender
  • can get skinny to split double

Below are notes from a scout concerning several players.

  • explosive, high motor. Hits like brick shithouse. Low center of gravity, but plays high. Uses upper body strength. Is a closer in pass rush.
  • Strong grip, but doesn’t hand fight at all. Plays pretty low. Very quick in the box. Can take on a double. Needs a fair amount of technical work done.
  • Sheds blockers, low at point of attack. Stout, and fairly quick. Against a pulling guard, he’s a truck. Good awareness. Not quite sure on his hand strength and strike. Can play a little high. Not in love with his game/frame.
  • Strong bull rush. Sheds blocks, ok. Explosive off ball. Decent COD (*editor note-change of direction). Very agile and nimble. Need to see more games. He wasn’t blocked against much.
  • Explosive hips, off the ball and very quick laterally. Finisher. Strong. Knows how to use hands. Nice COD. Splits doubles, disruptive player.
  • Raw, athletic, strong motor. Tendency to play high and can’t really tell his level of physicality. Definitely a 1 gap DL.
  • Quick off the ball. Strong bull rush. Goes through OL to get in backfield. Sheds blocks well. Not a fancy player. Failry quick in the box. Skinny, needs to add weight. Powerful lower half. Flexible legs (was a HS kicker). No pass rush moves shown. Kid is a thumper.

Hope the above helped you look at the big uglies with more appreciation than being bulls in a china shop. As always, you can comment below or send a twitter DM to @DenverBroncosZ for any questions.
Thanks for reading!

Hard Press Coverage is an art form: Football 101

There are two forms of press coverages: hard and soft. In a second article, I’ll address soft coverage.

*To note, this is Football 101, so it’s a simple explanation and everything comes with a usually or typicallyso insert it in most things written.

The hard press starts at the line of scrimmage. The wide receiver (or tight end) and cornerback face each other with little space between. Once the ball is snapped, the CB has five yards past the LOS to push, slap, and bump the WR/TE, after that it can be called defensive pass interference in the NFL.

CB’s will watch the WR’s hips and keep his feet constantly moving, while shading towards the inside (if needed) because the goal (usually) is to keep the WR from making a break towards the center of the field. If he’s got the inside edge, he’s using his hands to prod, slap, and jam the WR while keeping his inside leverage.

The CB wants to jam his guy towards the outside so it gives his safeties more time to assess the play, makes it a harder throw for the QB, and is easier to push the WR out of bounds if the ball is caught. This is why he’ll often line up on the WR’s inside hip, this helps keep the WR from turning in.

This type of hard press is an absolute route killer, which results in one less open guy. It’s most effective on short routes and why having a good slot cover is imperative. Jax needs D.J. Hayden and Tyler Patmon to step up because they play a lot of nickel and the slot is key.

Smaller CB’s can struggle against big TE’s if their form isn’t perfect. A CB with long limbs can keep his hands on the WR while maintaining enough space to move and make plays on the ball.

The key to winning this match-up is: the hips don’t lie. CB’s should follow the hips, not the eyes or shoulders of the WR. Only the very best WR/TE can have their hips pointing in one direction and then break off in a another suddenly.

Chad Johnson was one of the best at these agile moves. Julio Jones is among the best at using his strength to break the jam and streak down the field. They are few and far between. This is why WR’s (especially the raw) struggle running routes against seasoned CB’s. Their hips don’t lie.

If this dance lasts past five yards, the CB is no longer jamming his guy anyway he can, he’s now running hip to hip (with some bumps and sneaky slaps) with the receiver. Good press guys will slap the hand as the WR is catching the ball. As long as contact is at the same time, it’s not a flag. This ritual between the two isn’t for the weak, it’s all mind games, athleticism and focus.

CB’s who can back-pedal, shove, bump, herd his guy at the same time and keep an arm free to intercept passes, are ones who often ones who make All-Pro and Pro-Bowls.
The next type of coverage is soft press, which will be covered in a separate article.

This film clip shows Jalen Ramsey as the guy who does it all.

Tight Ends-big engines that drive offensive trains:Football 101

Tight Ends are my weakness. You can have the quarterback, give me a Y-ISO and I’m weak in the knees. They block for quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. Plus, they run routes and provide a security blanket for the QB, too. They’re the perfect football player who does the most of any position group. The Jack of All Trades.

Good ones disrupt defenses and change formations because they key around where the TE is. He gives the SAM a job, he takes away one or two players because they don’t know if he’s blocking or running a route. If a team has an Y-ISO player like Travis Kelce or Rob Gronkowski, defenses plan as much around them as they do the quarterback.

If it’s trips left and the tight end is split out right, who do you cover?

Most TE’s are a catcher or blocker. If a team can have two good TE’s, their offense is going to kick some serious booty. 12 personnel is a real threat; teams are using this more because it lessens the need for three killer wide receivers. Not to mention, if one of those guys is a real threat, the run game is helped. Play action, RPO’s, you name it.

When defenses double team this big guy, it leaves an open receiver downfield for a bomb.

Some break the TE position into three groups. The “Y,” the “F” and the “U”. The TE position has 100% evolved (thanks to Don Coryell).  Now we have a few different types of TE’s, and typically a team has different bodies for the different tight end types.

TE (Y) Position – the Knight

He’s the big boy, the blocker more than catcher. Everybody reading this has heard the saying, “The running game is the QB’s best friend”, right? If the running game is his best friend that drinks with him, the TE is the one who picks them both up when they’re leaving the bar.

Y’s line up next to the tackle, predominately on the right side (making it the strong side). That’s a good way to know what type he is: where he most often lines up and how often he gets the ball.

F or H Tight End – the Queen

He’s usually smaller than the big 6’6″ 260 Y, the F/H are more in the 6’3-4″ range. Too big for a wide receiver, but acts like one. He’ll block, but he’s not great at it. However, there’s always exceptions, when Julius Thomas was in Denver he was a ball catching fool and he was 6’5″, right on the edge.

These Tight ends will often line up farther out and are red zone threats. In your mind’s eye, think of a guy like Jimmy Graham or Trey Burton. They don’t really want to be an inline Tight End. They will stand in as a blocking threat, but lack of strength is going to mean they won’t be taking on 5 Techniques alone….think of them as more of a chipper, like a running back.

What the Queen TE lacks in run blocking ability, he absolutely makes up for it in the ability to create mismatches on the perimeter. This TE will now become a massive headache to Defensive Coordinators.

How do defenses treat him? Nickel? Base? Big Nickel? TE’s like Graham make the DC start to really think that if he’s out there and it’s 11 personnel, at the very least they’re going to need to line up in Big Nickel Defense. How does this affect the running game? Doing that takes the run stoppers out of the game to go to a smaller package.

Instead of blocking with sheer brawn and numbers, they block with space. A Queen TE is too big for a CB or FS to line up on and jam, and is far too fast to let a LB handle him in coverage. This position is about versatility, both schematically and personnel grouping-wise.

U are the one for me – the King

U’s, Y-ISO, Kings, call them what you want, but think about a guy like Travis Kelce today or Shannon Sharpe from yesteryear. He is more than a willing to be a blocker in both the zone and G run schemes, is willing to stay in to protect in base protection schemes, but also has the ability to line up displaced from the LOS and be effective in space as a route runner.

He will run some vertical clearing routes, such as the dig, the over and the vertical seam route (all routes run to death in the WCO).

Kings have the ability to help block a 5 technique with the Tackle and can seal the edge on a 7 technique. King TE’s don’t need to be 40 fast because he is a QB’s security blanket in the pass game. Quick (different from fast) and strong in the box. He needs to be able to beat the SLB in man coverage.

This is why older king TE’s are so valuable. What they lack in physical prowess, they make up for in understanding tactics and nuance. If he sees the SLB taking away the inside of his vertical curl route, he’ll break it outside to where the defense isn’t. The value of having a strong and savvy King TE cannot be overstated.

A healthy Gronk is the Mack Daddy of the Kings, ruler of the world. He is more than a willing blocker in the run game, but there isn’t a thing he can’t do in the pass game.
He can run screens, he can run every route on both the TE tree and most of the routes on the WR tree.  He is the ultimate offensive fail-safe. He’s impossible to both scheme against and also match up against. He drives opposing defensive staffs insane trying to figure out how they want to play the matchups.

Most teams carry both a King and a Queen TE. It’s now en vogue to bring both of them out and line up in 12 personnel, and use the Queen as a 3rd WR. That is the ultimate “screw you” personnel group that an offense can throw at a defense. It causes a lot of DC’s to stick in their base defense, or find a way to get into big Nickel (but that 3rd safety better be Honey Badger-like, otherwise it’s 10 on 11).

Having multiple tight end types helps all offensives

In the ever-changing chess match between opposing offensive and defensive coordinators, the 12 personnel (King/Queen TE) vs. Base/Nickel/Big Nickel is a fascinating match to watch.

Why use four receivers if you’ve got two good TE’s? I’d live in the 12 personnel, make it my base offense, especially in a WCO run-first scheme. You’re killing three birds with one stone. Or five with two. Want to see winning teams? Follow the tight end stats. Let’s all hope Jacksonville has its King and Queen and a Knight, too.
tight end types
tight end types
tight end types