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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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Colins tires. Correction.

My uneducated, fan-boy mock drafts over the last few years included Rob Gronkowski (1st round for the Dolphins in 2010 with a trade down), Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, or Jimmy Graham. I'm totally a psychic when it comes to TE's. And the Dolphins are paying the price.

bubbab4u,

Have you forgotten Sparano was hc in 2011? Had he heard of the "pistol offense" he would have been afraid he would shoot himself in the head.

Also, had it not been for Shanahan unveiling the pistol offense with RG3, Kaepernik may still be sitting on the sidelines. I believe Harbaugh got the idea from Shanahan/RG3 then used Kaepernick successfully in the same role.

The only difference being Kaepernik actually slides and avoids taking hits, unlike RG3. Thus Kaepernik's in the SB and RG3 isnt. You know the story with that.

In what decade do we get a franchise QB?

Ray Lewis + Duke Johnson = best running back tandem in college football. B

I cant believe we traded Brandon Marshall. And I cant believe we traded him for Egnew!!

Armando, teams with D QB's didnt get into the playoffs either.

Excellent article Armando. But, I have a feeling this coming season is yet going to be another huge let down, both in free agency and the draft. I sincerely hope I'm wrong but knowing that Jeff Ireidiot is the one picking, really worries me. Is there really a true alpha receiver in free agency that will be worth the big bucks? And what about this horrendous o-line? The only one worth keeping is Pouncey. Long is done here in Miami, John jerry (or Jerry john whatever) is a huge bust, Martin is another bust specially at left tackle, Gardner is just a body taking up space-he sucks, and they still will need a RT. Agree TE MUST be upgraded, but what about the lame running game? If Reggie leaves then only Miller is left, then what? Also, and again I hope I'm wrong, just don't see it in Tannehill. They'll be looking at another QB in 2 years.

I love how the QB's at the Senior bowl were raving about Tannehill.

If Patterson is there and we don't get him, it will be Homeric.

Jeff FIRELAND exact words of Eggs on your face JI. Egnew, I've got a high regard for him. He's going to have a good season this year. I feel very confident. WHAT! And that's what you JI lovers supporters have running the draft...Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! "We doomed I tell you doomed!
And than he said that he has flexibility at that position. LMAO. OH boy! Some of you guys can draft better than FIRELAND.

I want to take a fabulous Voyage of Love with you.

The best tight end coming out of Stanford in this year's draft isn't Ertz; it's Toilolo. He may not have put up the numbers Ertz did but they didn't use him as much in the passing attack as they should have. At 6' 8" and 268lbs running a 4.8 down the field the guy is tough to cover. Blocks pretty good too. He's a late round pick at this point and probably will stay there because of his producton in college but with the right team he blossoms into another Jimmy Graham.
Vance McDonald is another guy worth taking a look at. Blocks well and catches well. Again, not a lot of production but due to the type of offense run at Rice.

prof lou,

I have Jeff Ireland on speed dial. He wants to confirm your 11:32 PM post with you.

Yesterday Gone, I have see your post earlier today and you are wrong.

I don't think Egnew was ever intended to be an in-line TE. Unless I miss my guess, he will be moved this year to a position more resembling a split end.
And on a different note, I think on D we should resign Starks and put Solia on the blocks. We should be able to get a #1 for him in next year's draft. He is very valuable as a NT. This is how to utilize personnel. It is wasteful to just let good players walk.

Clemons is another player with good trade potential. He has become a solid but not spectacular FS. This is another position of almost constant need in the new NFL. I say we resign him, play him this year and draft D. Amerson. Play Amerson at a CB/FS combo this year, letting him cover the TE in nickle especially, then trade Clemons for an early mid-rounder next year. After the draft , teams will be willing to fill holes left vacant from the off season or from injury through the trade.

ARMANDO:

WHAT ABOUT THE 3 WIDEOUTS ON BOTH TEAMS..

BOTH TEAMS 3rd WILL BE OUR #1

TRULY SAD.

WE GAVE UP BRANDON FOR WHAT AGAIN..

S.F HAD CRABTREE AND ADDED MOSS AND MANNINGHAM.

WE GAVE UP MARSHALL FOR EGNEW AND WHAT EVER WE GET IN THIS YEARS 3rd?

AND YOU IDIOTS ARE HAPPY HE's GONE..

I'm SURE HE IS TOO.

Justincredible does not speak with forked tongue!

We can sign three starting FAs and get two starting draft picks for a player that was unhappy and not a fit with the new regime. I liked Marshall also, but if we get someone like Q. Patton in the 3rd and a starting OL or DB in FA then we are better off. And the jury is still out on Egnew.

When will people here realize Brandon Marshall was not traded for Michael Egnew and whomever we choose with the remaining 3rd rd'er traded recieved in the trade?

Marshall was not traded for "A PLAYER" He was Traded for two 3rd rd draft picks to do whatever we please with those picks. If not, Marshall would have been traded for "ANOTHER PLAYER", not a couple picks people.

However, the only "real thing" worth yelping about is the fact that Marshall cost us 2 2nd rd picks and was traded away for 2 3rd rd picks. What, is he a car? Depreciating in value as soon as he left the lot?

Actually all Marshall cost extra was an extra 2nd round pick, assuming that in the draft a top Wr would have cost a 2nd anyway. He did not work out and we got two 3rds for him. Also about 25% of our cap space this year is due to trading him away. He cost more in one year than that 2nd round Wr would have cost throughout his entire rookie contract.

Proof We're Only In Year 3 Of Rebuilding:

2008

Only Jake Long is left and he may walk this offseason.

2009

Only Sean Smith and Brian Hartline are left and one or both may also walk this offseason.

Folks, we're at the crux of 2008 and 2009 drafts never happening.

Also, 2011, Mike Pouncey is the only player drafted thats a true stick. Gates and Frank Kearse already gone. Clay and Thomas could soon be on the way out. Jimmy Smith regressed in 2012 too. He could also be on the way out.

So Mike Pouncey could be the only player left from the 2011 draft pretty soon. So it would pretty much be like the 2011 draft never happened either, except for Mike Pouncey.

So as it now stands, 2010 was Parcells best draft:

Odrick
Misi
Jerry
Carroll
Reshad Jones
Spitler

While only Edds and Chris McCoy were the only 2 complete misses. Jeryy and Carroll are on the watch list too.

2012 Seems to be Ireland's best:

Tannehill
J Martin
Vernon
Miller
Matthews
Keeston Randhall

Seem like stickers.

Josh Kaddu may be a st's sticker for now. BJ Cunningham was cut and Egnew needs a great camp to stay off of the cut list this season.

I'm not defending Ireland; I don't like him either. But players come and go. As I illustrated earlier, the best thing to do is to get replacement value out of the ones you can and upgrade any way possible. This draft and free agency offers a huge opportunity to better this team. Ireland is still pulling the trigger and I hope he gets the players I think will help. If he doesn't, I hope the players he gets work out. Whining about the past is stupid. I wish he would have got Willis instead of Ginn, but I didn't know then he would end up being such a no brainer. There is always hindsight, but there is no reason to dwell on it.


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.

Posted by: Exposed | January 29, 2013 at 11:09 AM


Post Of the Day..

mando,
i'm wow'd, you couldn't possibly make that point any clearer or louder. i am now certain that priority wise speaking that powerback is THE #1 issue followed by what is now(thanks to your article) a duel issue at #2 - widereciever/tightend.....issue #1 should be addressed via the draft, issue #2 would best be remedied through freeagency, i believe you agree and i hope that is the way ireland sees it as well.

THE PROBLEM WITH JEFF IRELAND IS HE IS A TERRIBLE JUDGE OF SKILL POSITION TALENT BECAUSE HE WAS GROOMED AND TRAINED IN A PARCELL TYPE MIND SET THAT RECEIVER'S ARE NOT THAT IMPORTANT LINEMEN IS. HE FEELS EVERYTHING IS BULK AND STRONG ONLY. THAT WORKED IN THE 70'S,80'S,AND 90'S BUT NOT TODAY. IT WORKS FOR STOPPING THE RUN BUT STRUGGLES SCORING IN THE RED ZONE. IT HELPS STOPPING THE RUN IN THE RED ZONE. CAN YOU SEE HOW IRELAND'S DRAFTING HAS THE DOLPHINS AS A TEAM. GOOD AGAINST THE RUN,GREAT IN RED ZONE DEFENSE, CREATE NO TURNOVERS, HAS ONE GREAT PASS RUSHERS. ON OFFENSE CANNOT SCORE POINTS,BEST PLAYER IS RUNNING BACK. TE IS MARK BAVARRO TYPE,BEST WR IS PHIL MCKONKEY TYPE. ALL THIS IS BILL PARCELL PHILOSOPHY THAT IS OLD SCHOOL. NOW IRELAND NEEDS TO DRAFT SPEED AND HAVE A MIND SET TO SCORE POINTS THRU THE AIR AND TO STOP OPPONENTS BY STOPPING THE PASS. TODAY TEAMS WILL NOT HESITATE TO THROW THE BALL 50 TIMES IN A GAME WHETHER THEY ARE WINNING OR NOT AND IF YOU CANNOT STOP IT OR KEEP UP THE RESULTS IS 7-9/8-8. IF DOLPHINS WANT TO WIN GO GET SPEED ON OFFENSE AND PASS DEFENDERS ON DEFENSE. ALSO KEEP REGGIE BUSH, OTHER THAN MAYBE THE JETS OR GB WHO DO YOU SEE WILL WANT HIM AT 5 MIL A YEAR? RESIGN BUSH AND HARTLINE LET LONG GO AND GET AWAY FROM PARCELL STYLE DRAFTING!

No I don't see nor agree with the above post on Ireland.

Good News though on Ireland. I read an article saying Long was offended by the Phins offer and the Phins believe Miller will be better than Bush. I guess Long forgot he hasn't finished a season in 2 years but still thinks he's worth 10 Million or more per year.

This franchise is pure garbage.

Mando,
Upgrading the Offense and giving Tannehill some weapons is very important to the success of the Dolphins but we need to equally upgrade the defense as well.
Here are some of the QB's we face in the coming season.
Brady X 2
Flacco
Matt Ryan
Roethlisberger
Brees
Luck
Newton (ability to run)

Question here is , Do we have the LB's and Secondary to stop these QB's?. Tannehill is not yet ready to have a shoot out against some of these QB's. If the Defense issues are not addressed with equal importance in having a well balanced team we will end up 9-7 at the best and that is not good enough to get to the next level.

TK SWAN
I COULDNT AGREE WITH YOU MORE,
oh though JI could be a great GM. For Wayne Huizenga! What do I mean? Yes GM for Wayne as the Garbage Manager! He will diffidently find acorns and rocks there! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahshaha:)hahahahahah
HEY ! I thought that was funny ok!

The part that kills me is how the media rates Long as one of the best tackles in football. Makes you wonder if they have seen how badly he struggled before the 2nd consecutive season ending injury. AND I'd rate any guy higher that can finish seasons.

We should get another TE as insurance for Egnew possibly not developing this year. And Fasano is a blocking TE at this point and no more. I agree...he's just better at this point than the rest of the guys but there should be no need for Egnew to be on the bench because he supposedly can't block... Coach Sherman. If you have a blocking TE.

8:18 = manziel in 2014.
lol

Playing my bongos naked this morning. Maybe some cha-cha dancing after lunch.

mando,
today your article actually compelled me to log back in to make an additional post after you made your point so crystal clear, and i believe your article even magnifies my opinon all the more...as these playoff teams are sporting superb talent at tightend, they also have the rare and dominating POWERBACK...rice, gore, turner, peterson....and what really stands out is PRIORITY, as i said our #1 issue is POWERBACK, he is on the field every play, he IS the QB's bodyguard as he stands a mere foot or two away ready to pick up a failed block or blitzing linebacker and able to take the dump off pass if need be, if he is a true powerback everything is easier including moving the chains. yep! miami's #1 priority is a FRESH legged powerback via the draft, and if you remedy our #2 priority(reciever/tightend) via freeagency, we begin to look a whole lot more like these playoff teams. i think the combination of powerback and stud tightend is paramount, but it's what we add after that that really tips the scale...if you add TWO stud TE's you are virtually impregnable on the right and left side, if you add TWO dynamic recievers to brian hartline you have the greatest show on turf... but i really think the belicheat strategy is the way to go.

Egnew didn't play because he couldn't play STs; to my Eyes=not a Football Player. Bad News.

the need at powerback trumphs the need at tightend.

Lots of compliments to Armando this AM, probably from himself.

What do you mean by "powerback". Big backs? We have D. Thomas and Lane.

I don't remember any powerbacks in that great zone blocking Denver Team and only Terrell Davis.

It is trumps, trumps.

Later.

@ 8:18......Opti/Pessi.....

I count 7-8 losses right there....how do you figure 9-7.....

and don't forget the always fun let down losses to inferior teams....the jets probably steal one....nd we lose 2 more to teams we shoudn't.....

Ireland needs to be on his FA/DRAFT game if he wants to keep the FINS from gong 4-12 or 5-11....

On the bright side....that should mean his firing....

Speaking of manziel, it will interesting to see how he gets graded out come draft time. Physically speaking he is not a prototype QB. His arm is not the strongest and he's short and slight.

take ertz in the 2nd rd. guy would easily start from day one

Mark...

There is another guy like that playing in Seattle right now....

Maybe you have heard of him....

First name Russell....Last name Wilson (Deon Sanders)...

Kris, no point trying to predict wins/losses right now ... way too many things up in the air in this league. Things change fast and teams always out/underperform.

i.e. You may have made some decent return in predicting the Steelers would not make the playoffs. I would guess no fewer than 90% of professional prognosticators had them written in ink as one of their six playoff teams.

Also might have made some money prediciting Miami would win 7 games with Tannehill as their starter and trading and not replacing Brandon Marshall ...

You can't predict this stuff...

YG:

YOU HAVE TO PUT A FACE ON THOSE DRAFT PICKS AT SOME POINT.

MARSHALL FOR 2 3rds IS STUPID ANY WAY YOU CUT IT.

HE NOW BEEN TO A PRO BOWL FOR 3 DIFFERENT TEAMS.

HE COULD HAVE BEEN HUGE FOR OUR TEAM AND IF NOT WHY GIVE HIM AWAY FOR A EGNEW.

OR IF YOU WANT A JOHN JERRY.

IT's THE MOST IMPORANT POSITION IN TODAY's NFL.

AND WE MADE OUR TEAM WEAKER BY LETTING HIM GO.

WE CAN TALK DRAFT PICKS ALL WE WANT. WE CAN DO THE SAME WITH CAP SPACE.

HOWEVER WHO IN THE FIRST ROUND OR FA BETTER THAN BRANDON, LONG, STARKS, BUSH.

SO WHAT WE HAVE 5 DRAFT PICKS.

WE're LETTING GO OF PLAYERS IN THEIR PRIME.

WE're LETTING GO 3 STARS, 2 WHO HAVE BEEN TO MORE THAN 1 PRO BOWL

AFTER GIVING UP A PRO BOWLER LAST YEAR.

YEAH WE GETTING BETTER BY THE DAY.

DEFENSE DON't WIN GAMES PEOPLE.

POINTS DO.

WE NEED WAY TO MANY WEAPONS TO WORRY ABOUT DBs O-LINE AND OR PASS RUSHERS.

WE NEED TO SIGN LONG,STARKS AND BUSH.

OR FRANCHISE LONG TO SEE WHAT HE CAN DO THIS UP COMING YEAR.

WE CAN ALWAYS TRADE, SIGN OR LET HIM GO AFTER NEXT YEAR

YOU ADD TO THE CORE YOU DON't TAKE IT AWAY TO PLUG IN KIDS.

LOOK AT THE RAVENS 49ers PATS TEXANS PACKS ANT THE REST OF THE TEAMS THAT MAKE IT EVERY OTHER YEAR.

STABILITY.

THAT's VALUE

THE CORE STAYS IN TACT AND THEY BUILT AROUND IT.

WHEN YOU GET A PLAYER LIKE A JJ WATT YOU CAN LET A MARIO GO.

THE PACKS AND STEELERS ALREADY HAVE REPLACEMENTS IN PLACE SO THEY're WILLING TO LET GO OF WALLACE AND JENNINGS.

WE LET GO OF PLAYERS WITHOUT A PLAN B.

..@ 9:27..Yeah Howard Griffith was a nobody?

YG..You do know that Kaep came from Nevada where the HC invented the Pistol offense right?

manziel isnt projected very high. most smart scouts understand he his very short and his arm is avg at best. his mobility will help him though

Kris agree that Manziel is probably one of Wilson's biggest fans right now because every success Wilson has probably makes Manziel more money. However, manziel's arm is weaker than Wilson (Wilson has as strong an arm as there is) and although Manziel can run he can't run like Wilson. manziel is probably more Dough Flutie than Russel Wilson.

Personally I think he can succeed in today's NFL but a lot of NFL guys are stuck on measurables ... he will still fight an uphill battle.

Mark...

I expected 11-5 from us....

We played the a PILLOW SCHEDULE....softest schedule since 2008....

If we didn't get 9 wins from that...were in trouble next year....

Kris,
If we lose to all that would be an 8-8 season. I am being optimistic by assuming we can either stop Newton running with the ball or hoping that the steelers are similar to last season ( not very dominant). Thats where I get a 9-7 season. Also is has been proven that Brady can be ineffective under the right defensive scheme.

Tannehill couldnt even start for Texas A%M....


Also is has been proven that Brady can be ineffective under the right defensive scheme.

Posted by: Opti/Pessi Mist | January 30, 2013 at 09:46 AM
=============================================

Kind of like every other quarterback in the history of the game.

It's bold statements like yours that keep me coming back here.

Kris, we had exactly a .500 opponents win % schedule this year ranking it the 13th softest ... no not a tough as nail schedule but not a cakewalk either.

Atlanta (.422), Cincinnati (.438), Indianapolis (.441), Denver and San Diego (.457) ... those were easy schedules.

I BET IF WE GET 4 WRs AND 2 NEW TEs WE COULD PLAY WITH ANYBODY

IF WE GET AN ELITE QB WE COULD PLAY WITH ANYBODY.

mark our schedule was the easiest schedule ive ever seen. home games were so easy

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