Sorry about my absence, May is a crazy month with Birthdays, Graduations, Confirmations, Mother's Day, getting the yard/garden ready plus Memorial Day. I also had the flu for a few days. I should be back to a normal schedule now. Thanks for your understanding and patience.
Everybody knows that the NFL is a copycat league. You can go back through the years and notice it. The 46 defense, the Tampa Two defense, the Wildcat formation, etc… I can go on and on, but you get the idea. The New England Patriots initiated a new look offense that passed often, but did not have many options to look at in the wide receiver position. They came out and played with two tight end sets for a great part of the season and it shows with the numbers that Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez put up. Last year they combined for 169 catches for 2227 yards and 24 touchdowns!! Those numbers may very well be hard to reach again this or any other year. Because of the success that the Patriots had last year, many other teams may look to copy their format. I will look at several teams that may do just that.
Did you know that both of New England's tight ends and the Ravens tight ends were all drafted in 2010?? Yes, Ed Dickson was drafted in the 2nd round, just like Rob Gronkowski. Later in the 2010 draft Dennis Pitta was picked up just like Aaron Hernandez. Much was discussed about this on both teams' parts, but all 4 players have shown promise. In Baltimore, the Ravens lost Lee Evans via free agency and it is very visible that Anquan Boldin has lost some of his game. Pitta and Dickson both improved a great deal last season and it showed with a combined 94 catches and 8 touchdowns. The Ravens front office has already stated that both will have a bigger part of the offense this year; somebody has to help out Joe Flacco besides Ray Rice. Torrey Smith showed some promise his rookie year, but what will happen when the #1 cornerback is on him?? I can see a season where Dickson and Pitta could combine for 130 catches, 1500 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those numbers should put all of you on notice and have them on your sleeper list come draft time.
Enter the post Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis. Besides Manning, the Colts have lost several coaches and many players. Pierre Garcon is now a Redskin, Joseph Addai is a free agent, and it looks like Dwight Clark might sign with Tampa Bay. That leaves the Colts with an old Reggie Wayne, and injury issues with Austin Collie and Steve Avery. Andrew Luck needs some help and the Colts drafted the top 2 tight ends in the draft in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Obviously there is an instant connection with Luck and Fleener since they were teammates at Stanford. Did you know that the nation's top tight end was not Fleener?? That is right, the John Mackey winner was Dwayne Allen. I can see Luck throwing often to his 2 tight ends as the Colts will be playing from behind most of the season. Definitely two guys to keep your eyes on.
One of the biggest needs in the off-season was for a wide receiver. They tried for Pierre Garcon, but he signed with the Redskins. They finally decided to sign Jerome Simpson, but he has a suspension for 3 games. They really don't have anybody else besides Percy Harvin and some rookies. Maybe that is why the Vikings shocked everybody by signing John Carlson to a 5-year contract in free agency. The Vikings drafted Kyle Rudolph in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL draft and he seemed to be the future. Since the experiment with Donovan McNabb failed, Christian Ponder has been the starting quarterback. Everyone knows that a young quarterback likes tight ends. Do the Vikings implement more 2 tight end sets to help Ponder out??
Are you seeing a trend here?? All are teams with young quarterbacks. The Redskins gave up a ransom to move up to the #2 overall pick for Robert Griffin III. But the dynamic playmaker will not have much to work with at wide receiver. You have an old Santana Moss; 2nd year player Leonard Hankerson (who only played 4 games last year); Pierre Garcon; and 49er castoff Josh Morgan. Not very much to like here. The best playmaker for the middle part of the year was tight end Fred Davis. The best one prior to that was tight end Chris Cooley, who is coming back from injury. Do the Redskins go with a two tight end offense this year to have the most playmakers available for RG3 to use??
Peyton Manning loves tight ends. He made Dwight Clark a star in Indianapolis and when he got hurt, he made Jacob Tamme a star. Now he is in Denver and the Broncos do not have much depth at wide receiver. The Broncos brought in Tamme to renew their relationship and also signed Joel Dreessen in free agency. Why sign two?? I think that the way Peyton spreads the ball around and the way the Patriots made it look so easy last year are the only answers you need. Tamme is one of my favorite sleepers for the year.