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Fine TEs important 20 years ago and today

At the dawn of NFL free agency, the Dolphins saw Keith Jackson dangling there, available and talented, and decided to be aggressive and chase him as their first unrestricted free agent addition.

Why, people wondered, would the Dolphins want to add a tight end -- especially an expensive one?

The Dolphins had Ferrell Edmunds on the roster and he was solid. And Mark Clayton and Mark Duper were still on the team and both were coming off 1,000-yard seasons in 1991.

So why bunch talent at TE? Why take catches away from twin 1,000-yard receivers? (The last question was also asked by Clayton, but that's another story).

"Adding talent whenever you can ianywhere you can on the roster is something we're going to do," Don Shula said. "If there's someone out there that can help us and fits, we'll try to get them. And adding a tight end helps the passing game, helps the running game, helps the receivers get more one-on-one matchups and helps our quarterback. Those are things we like to do."

And so the Dolphins landed Keith Jackson and four days after arriving in Miami he caught a TD pass against the Bills in a 37-10 whipping of the defending AFC Champions.

Fast forward to today. I'm at the Super Bowl. I covered the AFC Championship game last week.

You know what I see?

Teams with pass-catching, seam-threatening tight ends.

The four conference finalists had good if not great tight end play this season.

The Falcons had Tony Gonzalez, who caught 93 passes for 930 yards and eight touchdowns.

The Patriots had both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who combined for 106 receptions, over 1,200 yards and a whopping 16 touchdowns.

The Super Bowl teams also have excellent pass-catching tight ends.

Vernon Davis is a tight end that runs like some wide receivers. He runs a 4.4 in the 40 and can get deep. This year was a down season for him as the quarterback change from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick resulted in more passes going to Michael Crabtree.

But Davis still had 41 receptions for 548 yards. He averaged 13.4 yards per catch, which is a wide receiver-type average, and scored five touchdowns.

The Ravens, meanwhile, offer Dennis Pitta, who is really starting to emerge in his third year with the team. This year Pitta caught 61 passes for 669 yads and seven TDs. The Ravens have always recognized the need for outstanding tight end play as they drafted Todd Heap in the first round a decade ago and went to the Super Bowl with Shannon Sharpe.

The point?

Successful teams recognize the need for excellent tight end play and they find a way to add that to the roster. The Dolphins of yesterday tried free agency when it was in its infancy, the Falcons traded for Gonzalez, the Patriots drafted not one, but two outstanding tight ends and Gronkowski came with the 41st overall selection. The Ravens have a history of finding fine tight ends as their general manager Ozzie Newsome was a great tight end.

Today's Dolphins, meanwhile, have been chugging along with mediocre tight end play.

Oh, the club's coaches will speak about Anthony Fasano in glowing terms. He's a fine blocker. He doesn't make mistakes. He's got great hands (sometimes). He's like a coach on the field.

But the thing they can never say is that he's a seam threat that worries the defense and is a matchup nightmare. They don't say that because it is not true.

The Dolphins have used resources to improve their tight end corps. Charles Clay came in the draft in 2011. Michael Egnew came in the draft in 2012.

Neither has really contributed to any significant degree. Indeed, if the Dolphins handle this offseason as it should be handled, both should be very nervous about their job status in 2013.

If the Dolphins do what should be done -- namely address the tight end position with significant resources -- Clay and Egnew should come to camp worried. They should come to camp thinking that their scholarships have been revoked and they'll get cut unless they make plays and do it consistently in training camp and during the preseason.

Last season, neither Clay nor Egnew did anything worthy of making the team in camp. They just basically made the team because they were young and there was simply no one else around. In other words, they made the team on promise rather than production.

And Fasano?

He's not starting because he's great. He's starting because he's the best of a bad lot. He's the best Miami's got but he's typically a C-plus player.

And as I look around, teams with merely C-plus tight ends didn't get deep into the playoffs this year.

Comments

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Also forgot to mention Ed Dickson on the Ravens who was also drafted out of Oregon in that infamous TE rich draft in 2010 we missed badly on. Ed is a pretty good player too....

To me, is no contest in this Year's Draft at TE-Zach Erzt, Stanford. Now is he worth a top 10 pick? I don't know.

Mando is coming around. Not talking about Wallace. Only three names Keller, Cook and Bennett should be on the lips of this front office. I would also like to see them sign Dallas Clark with one of those 3 tight ends just to shore up the position and draft other positions.

Very depressing to think that both the aforementioned Dennis Pitta and Aaron Hernandez, as well as Jimmy Graham were available when we chose John Jerry in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft.

James Casey of the Texans is the best value TE/H-Back that the Dolphins should target come March 12th. Can line up at FB, inline, split out wide.. Fantastic hands catcher. Would allow us to part ways with Jorvorskie Lane, save cap space.

Tight end seems to be a bargain position in the NFL. It does not take a lot of money to get a good TE. As we know from the team's forays with NE, it can be a killer position. Young QBs, journeyman QBs also like a good TE as a security blanket. Unfortunately, Fasano and Tannehill didn't really seem to click in 2012.

There are several good, big TEs in FA that could do well in Miami. UFA Martellus Bennett (25 Y/O, 6-6, 270) of the Giants is on record as stating he would take a hometown discount from the Giants. Certainly his 2012 $2.5M contract could be bettered by the Dolphins. Plus his brother plays in Tampa and they are close- as in wanting to play together. Miami and Tampa could be as close as they are going to get.

Oscar,

If you want the Phins to Draft Erzt, you better hope he's not a top 10 pick

they have eggnew.

I've always been an admirer of Dustin Keller and hated him whenever he played against us. He has the size and the speed(4.53) and is clutch. Offer him whatever he wants and more.

u just don't throw away the 3rd rd pix and the 2nd rd. pix.
oh wait.?
lol

Not TE in this Draft. Get him in FA.

So funny to see the 'OdinDashi' character blow its cover last night with the 'Monkey Boy' comment, especially the stammering excuse that one 'spells it differently,' lol.

Not that we didn't all know it was the same person despite the denials, but still...

Think about how pathetic that really is. Creating a seperate personae just to have a 'pal' on an anonymous message board. Jesus.

JOrdan Reed out of UF is an excellent tight end.

It is separate, YG, not seperate.

db,is that u?
lol

Armando,

This years draft does not have a lot of athletic TE's. Therefore the Dolphins will most likely have to get one from free agency. That's an expensive WR and TE that will really cost the Dolphins if they are serious about turning the offense around. Not signing Bush and Long will give them some room. Miller will most likely replace Bush and Martin will replace Long at LT. That means the Dolphins will have to draft a RT.

We need at least 2 FA Players this year, an OG and a TE.

Indeed it is. And I usually take such pride in my speling abylitee, lol.

Tyler Eifert has the best receiving hands in college, in my opinion. And that includes the receivers.

billcale, didn't Fasano reach career highs this year with Tannehill? I could be wrong but I think Tannehill got what he could out of Fasano. Shame too because at ND Fasano was a receiving fiend. Not so much at the pro level. Good player though.

I'm so glad Armando wrote this piece. NOTHING, worries me more than the fact Jeff said he's expecting big things from Egnew next season. To me, it sounds like he's going to ignore the TE position all together.

Either that or he is incredibly cunning and is saying that to throw other teams off the scent because he wants to take Zach Ertz with his first of two second round picks (or trade back into the first for him if need be). But seeing how I have very little faith in Ireland right now I have to believe it's the former.

Nothing to me is more important than getting an excellent TE. I'm not talking Fasano who is serviceable but a #2 at best. How is it that we have gone SO many years without a great TE? McMichael was our last decent TE and he wasn't even that great. Why is this so hard for this team?!

Every young QB needs a good TE to help his progress. Jeff needs to get Tannehill help at this position. I will not be watching any other position as closely as TE this offseason. It's the #3 priority imo (wr,cb, then te) but a KEY position that must be upgraded this off season. ZACH ERTZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Johannes situaVa

Those were my 'final step' words they wanted before posting. lol

I'm thinking Bennett, Fasano, Egnew presents Miami with a formidable TE trio- IF Egnew comes around. And inexpensive for all they could do in terms of blocking and pass catching. If the team is intent on letting Reggie go, there couldn't be a better group to target for FA.

martin

WHAT!!!!! NO TE in this draft, let me see


Zach Ertz 6-6 249 Stanford
Tyler Eifert 6-6 250 N D
Joseph Fauria 6-6 255 UCLA
Travis Kelce 6-5 240 Cinci
Dion Sims 6-5 276 M State
Levine Toitolo 6-8 263 Stanford

promichael,

I agree with letting Bush and Long walk in FA...

Gonna be interesting to see the route Ireland takes to get a wr, te.

I hope his scouts don't let him down.

It is separate, YG, not seperate.

Posted by: oscar canosa | January 29, 2013 at 11:13 AM

ROFLMAO! This is priceless. Oscar are you saying YG just wrote a post under a made up name to make fun of someone for writing posts, under a made up name?! LOL

Mark, I'm looking strictly at the fact that Fasano caught 41 balls out of 41 catchable balls thrown his way in 2012. If I'm a QB and I have somebody to throw to that hasn't dropped one yet, I keep throwing until he does. Plus, he was targeted way fewer times than most other TEs.

I like clay but he just hasn't had many opportunities and Fasano is pretty good, Egnew should just be gone period. Upgrading this position would be nice but we need some big receivers like Brandon Marshall type only with more speed first then tight end perhaps.Our biggest problem is still the QB position RT is going to have to make some significant progress this year and maybe their should be competition for the starting job and I mean a real competition. I would say that Moore would have played better this year and we would have won more games as a result, now if Tannihill turns the corner next year than this year of learning will have been worth it. One last thing to note is rookie or not this is a win or you are gone league and even though hi receivers were not top in the league he still missed a lot of wide open guys during the course of the year, I hope that he does turn the corner and in my mind he is still the biggest concern, if your QB doesn't play well you are going to lose most times.

The Dolphins should trade down to the early 20`s. Pick up a third second round pick and a second fourth round pick. Then they should draft their Tight End.

Incredibly unrealistic to expect ANY coach or GM to throw a player (like Fasano) under the bus and be publically critical of their play.

What on Earth would be served by that? All it would 'accomplish' is to send the message to the locker room that the people in charge do not have their backs and will belittle them publically. Great way to attract free agents, too!

C'mon, people. This kind of thought process is just as inane and clueless as was some of you being enraged that the team didn't make some huge public pronouncement that they were 'rebuilding' last year. NOBODY does that, folks. Do you exist in a bubble?

Bottom line? I'm reasonably certain they understand better than anyone an upgrade at TE is needed. They do not need to criticize current players or call a press conference for your benefit to accomplish that.

Contrary to popular belief, here's more proof our defense isnt that far away:

The Niners defense, the best still left in the sb hunt, allowed 17ppg this season. Their offense averaged right at 25ppg.

In the playoffs they gave up 31pts to the Pack(45-30) and 24pts to the Falcon(28-24), giving up 27.5ppg while scoring 32.5ppg. This shows no matter how good your defense is youre going to give up points playing great offenses(24ppg). So you had betrter also have great ability to score points(32.5ppg).

Bottomline, Niners defense avg 17ppg against. Dolphins defense avg 19ppg against. Which could have easily been less than 18ppg against had Dansby not dropped to pic 6's and Sean Smith had not lost the ball in the lights for a td against Andrew Luck.

That's a 21 point swing for our defense in points against in those 3 plays alone. Defensively, our primary problem isnt pass rush, its forcing turnovers. Thats where things really need to pickup. This alone could help reduce roints against by 3ppg(19ppg becomes 15ppg).

Offensively(18ppg), we need to find a way to score 7 more ppg(25ppg). This begins with solidifying both the oline and recieving corps.

billcale I just read Bennett really wants to stay in New York. He said he would be willing to sign under a home town discount so even if we offered more money he will probably stay. The Giants are really interested in resigning him and they might do it before free agency starts. They may let him test free agency to gauge his market but that could hurt them. He may end up being worth more than the home team discount would be if they just sign him now. And a team on the cusp could be interested in signing him. That would be the one way I could see him leaving the Giants.

I don't think he would leave Eli to play with Tannehill. Eli is a savvy vet and Tannehill is only in his second season, he will probably want to stay where he's comfortable or move on to a contending team. I don't see him coming here. For that reason and many more I am a huge advocate of signing one of the excellent TEs coming out of the draft. Cough cough ZACH ERTZ cough, cough.

Except that I'm not YG. Seriously.

Well there goes your theory oscar. Nice try though. He couldn't be YG, he just said so.

Understand what ur saying billcale, but he averages 8.1 YPC. Very pedestrian receiver.

But lets get those defensive players with 1 or 2 of our 1st 3 picks. Because the rule changes favoring great offenses really doesnt matter.

Nutcracker exactly!!!! And we won't even have a shot at Eifert, he will probably go top ten.

The Dullfins should move to L.A. and stop embarrasing S Fla.

I don't consider clay a TE. We need to upgrade the position. I don't think anyone is denying that. I would trade for finley similar to what we did with bush.

keep the wap,he doez everything asked + more,
just watch him.

Armando,

TE & WR's are skill position players.

If you hadn't noticed, Ireland has an ABYSMAL track record with these kinds of players.

You continue to preach to the choir about needing these kinds of players.

We can go back way back to J. Parmalee in his first draft all the way up to Clyde Gates & Charles Clay.

This guy just doesn't know how to find top end skill position players.

And none of your monotonous blogs on the topic will change that. Only a new GM will.

Look at the GAPING holes on this team. WR, TE's, corners, safeties. If they aren't 300lb fat bodies playing the trenches, Ireland is inept.

In the draft, the guy I really like is Travis Kelce from Cincinatti. 6'6, 260. Very athletic for a guy his size. One of the few guys who can block inline as well. A steal if you can get him in round 3. Though I was disappointed he opted not to play in the Senior Bowl.

Wow, some here are so obsessesed with me that they "see ghost and claim them to be me", plus have a need to discuss me even when Im not here.

I see I've reached "legendary status" with nitwits such as Phony78. LOL, ROTFLMAO..... Waht a complete idiot! LOL.....

What good are TE's or WR's until we have a QB?

...I want to know why bloggers are so high on Zack Ertz? Have you seen him play? or is it name recognition from mocks? How does he fit into this offense? The other Stanford Tight end Toiolo is IMO the better player, and more suited for what we need. But back to Ertz.He isn't a guy that streches the field. Toiolo was that guy. Ertz is an underneath guy, undersized, who is not half the blocker Toiolo is. The only reason that Levine Toiolo is not the top rated tight end 1 his injury, 2 he just declared.

Ertz is more Charles Clay then Gronkowski. For this offense to work, for the 2 tight end set to be effective. You have to be able to sell both run and pass. You manipulate the defense to get personel in there that should create a mismatch in your favor be it run or pass. Well the formation isn't believeable if one of the tight ends can't block. (See Egnew).

Pass on Ertz, especially in the second round when there is better value later.

Mark are those stats from this year? He did have a down year after game three but people are saying that was more because of the Giants trying to establish the run and playing from behind. He is also known as a seam threat so a change of scenery could help him burst on the scene.

Though I don't think there's any chance the Dolphins land him.

Some Dolphins Draft possibilities: Coming in a few posts. 1st round, then 2nd, then 3rd.

12 -
Patterson WR
Allen WR
Jordan OLB
Mingo DE/OLB
Ansah DE
Banks CB
Milliner CB

In the 1st round we could go another route as well or even trade up or down but for now I've seen all these guys mocked the the Dolphins. My preference would be either Jordan or Patterson but would be happy with any. The least happy if this pick is a CB.

Phony78,

Youre the only nut on the ward that believes Eiffert goes top 10. I would hate for us to have the top 5 pick and you were gm. Because you could have traded down and picked up an extra 1st and 2nd rd pick and still drafted Eiffert.

Continuing to prove to be a "complete idiot" I see. LOL...

2nd Round
42 -
Ertz TE
Eifert TE
Tavon Austin WR
Hopkins WR
WIlliams WR
Hunter WR
Trufant CB
Poyer CB
Reid FS
Thomas FS
Elam S
Okafor DE
Datone Jones DE

54 -
Woods WR
Dobson WR
Patton WR
Wheaton WR
Rogers WR
Ryan CB
Alford CB
Taylor CB
Amerson CB
Rambo S
Watson OT
Thomas OT
Short DT
Barrett Jones C/OG

2watt, your racial slur was spelled incorrectly. Why are the dumbest people also the most racist? Hmmmmmmm

3rd Round
77 -
Hunt DE
Goodman DE
Carradine DE
Goodwin WR
King WR
Wreh-Wilson CB
B.W. Webb CB
McFadden CB
McDonald S
Cyprien S
Long OT

82 -
Taylor DE
Lemonier DE/OLB
Sylvester Williams DT
Hamilton WR
Bailey WR
Jefferson FS
Quessenberry OG
Nixon OT
Winters OG
Pugh OG
Schwenke C/OG
Escobar TE
Kelce TE
McDonald TE
Fauria TE


I do realize some of these picks may be long gone when the Dolphins pick or in some opinions may be too early. But this is where I'd look for them right now. This may change after the combine.

Look at the GAPING holes ..........

Posted by: LOL | January 29, 2013 at 11:38 AM

The same has been said about Phony78's anus! LOL....

The Nutcracker Says:
WHAT!!!!! NO TE in this draft, let me see


Zach Ertz 6-6 249 Stanford
Tyler Eifert 6-6 250 N D
Joseph Fauria 6-6 255 UCLA
Travis Kelce 6-5 240 Cinci
Dion Sims 6-5 276 M State
Levine Toitolo 6-8 263 Stanford
=====================================================
The best players in the draft are Ertz and Eifert;
both are TE's that do not have the kind of speed that you want from todays TE's

I see we're going into 'draft analysis' mode here, where everyone is suddenly an expert about 22-year-old kids they've seen play for 45 seconds on TV.

No funnier time of the year on this blog.


2watt, your racial slur was spelled incorrectly. Why are the dumbest people also the most racist? Hmmmmmmm

Posted by: Phins78 | January 29, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Really man? You of all people didnt just call someone else dumb right?

Please tell me Im dreaming. LOL...

ireland,is that u?
lol

What do you mean you're not here? You came in 2 minutes after the mystery poster misspelled the same word you always misspell. Forgive Oscar for noticing the coincidence.

What do you mean you're not here? Aren't you always here? I just read that Armando had to delete pages of a conversation you had with one other guy at 3 am.

Yeah you're a legend all right.

...Speed like Gronkowski??? Speed like Who? This idea that tight ends have to have crazy elite speed is a myth. I would rather have a bigger body, that is what creates the mismatch. The speed is secondary, they are fast enough. And don't come with Vernon Davis. He is a freak, an anomoly

Phins78, I can appreciate your view but remember that he is wanting to buy a house; talking about kids and them going to school, having friends; wanting to play on the same team with his brother; talking about the security of a long-term contract. Hometown discounts, to me, pale in comparison to taking care of your family and providing them with the security of a bigger, long term contract.

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