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.