Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bullish on the Tight End Position

by: Michael Steffes

I was working on finding some hard facts to support the belief that the Seahawks offense will be better than the national football writers believe. While I had a hard time quantifying the common belief that Mike Solari, Mike Wahle, and the new running backs will improve that aspect of the offense, the are some interesting numbers that show the importance of the tight end position. I went back to 05', and have chronicled the drop in production since then. If you read the previous post about Carlson being the starter and Putzier being a "secret weapon", and then figure that against the tight ends of late, it is easy to feel good about an 08' improvement. To continue on, click

In 2005, arguably Jerramy Stevens best season, tight ends combined for 58 receptions of the teams 307. This is 18% of the receptions or approximately 1 in 5. Ryan Hannam was the only other TE to catch a ball that year. He had 13 (Stevens had 45).

In O6, this dropped to 36 receptions from TE's (Stevens 22, Mili 10, Heller 4). That was 12% of the 292 receptions. In other words 1 of every 8 receptions was made by a TE.

The decline continued in 07'. In a pass happy offense, the tight end caught a mere 41 balls out of 371 total completions. This represented 11% of the receptions. This was only 1 of every 9 balls that were completed. You can see the gradual decline in production from the tight end position since 2005 and as this directly correlates to a decline in total offense.

In 08', this will improve. I expect Carlson and Putzier will be far superior to the group of both last year and 06'. Also, questions at the WR position should actually lead to more opportunities for the TE position. The only game in which Marcus Pollard caught more than three balls was vs Tampa. The first game of the season. In this game, Deion Branch caught 0 balls and Bobby Engram had a season low 3 catches.

Three catches a game is not a lofty goal for this group, and that would increase production by 7 catches. In a way, it is a catch-22. If the tight ends produce then it will ease the pressure on the WR group, and as the WR's catch more balls, then the tight ends will have to be covered by linebackers. In the end, if you consider that the backs are expected to command more respect as pass catchers as well, mismatches will be created and Matt Hasselbeck is one of the best in the biz at going through progressions and finding the open man.