Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots didn’t beat the New York Giants in the Super Bowl and one of the big reasons for it was the leg injury suffered by their Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski in the AFC Championship game. He was their most dominating receiver, who opposing defenses had no answer for.
He played in the Super Bowl but he wasn’t himself. Gronkowski was one of the main reasons the Patriots were able to carve up NFL defenses without a speedy downfield receiver. They did most of their damage between the hashes. They utilized the talents of Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez as well as slot receiver Wes Welker.
They did things with their tight ends which have never been seen previously in the NFL. Gronkowski had a record breaking season with 90 catches for 1327 yards and 17 touchdowns. Hernandez caught 79 catches for 910 yards and 7 touchdowns.
The NFL is a copy cat league, so you know there are offensive coordinators throughout the NFL looking at tape today of the Patriots and putting in some of those routes and plays for their tight ends. If your defense can’t cover tight ends, it will have problems stopping the offenses in the NFL. I guarantee that tight ends will be utilized much more in 2012 than they were in 2011.
Big physical receivers like Gronkowski are almost impossible to cover because of the way referees protect the receivers. Belichick was wise enough to go to a tight-end heavy passing attack.
When I look at the Eagles depth chart on PhiladelphiaEagles.com, I can’t help but be astounded that they would write in second year linebacker Brian Rolle as the starter at Will linebacker. He’s a good football player, but he’s too small to be starting at Will linebacker for anybody in the NFL. Rolle is about 5’9″.
Could you imagine him being matched up against the tight ends in the league?
I expect the Birds to move Jamar Chaney over to the Will spot, when they start lining up and running plays.
Akeem Jordan is slated to be the starter at the SAM linebacker spot. Tight ends didn’t totally torch the Eagles in 2011 like they did in previous years but the Birds didn’t totally shut them down either. Regardless, I don’t know that you could give Jordan credit for it.
Tight ends are matched up against the linebackers and the safeties of NFL defenses. Can middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans, Chaney and Jordan along with the team’s safeties Nate Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Kurt Coleman shut down the outstanding tight ends in the league?
I don’t feel comfortable about those matchups. It’s the main reason I want to the see the Birds draft an athletic linebacker who has some size.
North Carolina’s Zach Brown has the size and speed to be that guy, but he looked awful in the tape of saw of him. He’s athletic enough to cover the tight ends in the NFL, but he’s not a good football player. In all likelihood he’s going to be drafted in the second or third round.
I like Keenan Robinson from Texas much more than Brown, but he may not be fast enough to cover the tight ends in the league. nearly as well. This youngster has the size, but he’s not a blazer. I wouldn’t have a problem with them going with Robinson, but they need to stay away from Brown.
I’m going to continue looking for which players would best fill this need.