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» Catch Radius: Best of the NFC

Part I of our catch radius season finale spotlights the NFC kings of double coverage (Calvin Johnson), the sideline (Jordy Nelson), the drag route (DeSean Jackson) and the red zone (Dez Bryant).

30 Aug 2012

Film Room: The Rise of the Tight End

by Andy Benoit

Tight ends are the "sexy" position these days. As I examined in my New York Times NFL Evolution piece earlier this year, that will change over the next few seasons. But in the meantime, and particularly in 2012, it’s easy to see why the position is in vogue. The Saints offense ranked first in scoring last season and ran through Jimmy Graham. The Patriots ranked second in scoring going through Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The league’s No. 3 scoring offense, Green Bay, had the über-athletic Jermichael Finley. The No. 5 offense, Detroit, had former first-round pick Brandon Pettigrew. The No. 6 offense, San Diego, featured Antonio Gates, while the No. 7 ranked Panthers ran a two-tight end system with former first-rounders Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey.

Tight ends are playing a prominent role as the NFL morphs into a spread out, pass-oriented, league. It’s not just about the star tight ends, though. With fullbacks nearly extinct, more and more offenses these days are using two tight ends in their base personnel. And that’s where the meat of football’s evolution is taking place -– in two-tight end sets.

Heading into this season, 11 teams figure to run a two-tight end base offense (the Patriots, Steelers, Texans, Colts, Titans, Broncos, Chiefs, Lions, Vikings, Cardinals and Seahawks) and six more –- the Giants, Eagles, Redskins, Panthers, Saints and Jaguars -– figure to feature a hearty dose of ace sets. Because these Film Room posts will be analyzing many of these teams in-depth throughout this season, let’s freshen up on the key advantages that dual-tight end sets present for an offense.

Balanced formations. In their purest forms, two-tight end sets are one of the few truly balanced formations in football. With a tight end and wide receiver on each side, defenses are not able to cheat their alignments to a strong or weak side prior to the snap. Individual defenders aren’t quite as informed in making guesses as to which direction the ball might go with this setup. This can make for a subtly simpler defense overall.

Matchup issues. You’ve heard this before, but it leads to the next point. Defensive coordinators have a tough time figuring out how to respond to dynamic receiving tight ends. Do you treat guys like Finley, Tony Scheffler, Graham and Hernandez as wideouts and cover them with a nickel corner? If you do, there’s the risk of the offense lining up both tight ends on the front line and running on one of your floundering cornerbacks who's stuck anchoring at linebacker. If you stay in base personnel, you get stuck with one of your linebackers matched on these lethal receivers.

Formation versatility. Most No. 1 tight ends are athletic enough to split into the slot, making for a three-receiver formation. Most No. 2 tight ends move well enough to line up at fullback or motion out of the backfield, making for a two-back formation. The more dynamic the players, the wider array of formations you see. The Patriots, obviously, are the best example. Hernandez and Gronkowski make for an unpredictable offense simply by being on the field together.

It can go beyond simply kicking one tight end into the slot, too. Last season, the Panthers were phenomenal at creating unique, exploitable passing lanes by putting Olsen and Shockey in plus-splits (lined up outside the numbers). The Lions occasionally lined up Scheffler and Pettigrew on the same side of the field, which complicated the defense’s efforts to double-team Calvin Johnson. Also, as the Patriots showed in Super Bowl XLVI, splitting out two tight ends on the same side can befuddle a defense trying to play matchup zone concepts. No defense wants to play zone with all of its corners to one side and all of its safeties and linebackers to the other. That distorts matchups and defeats many basic principles of zone. The Giants never did figure out how to deal with this formation in the Super Bowl; fortunately for them, there just weren’t enough opportunities for the Patriots to fully exploit it.

In the backfield or tighter to the formation, the Texans last season were very shrewd in the way they used Joel Dreessen and James Casey in motion. This aided the play-action game and created a lot of favorable one-on-one route running opportunities. It also created a lot of advantageous angles for Dreessen and Casey in run-blocking, which is partly why Arian Foster consistently had spacious cut-back lanes behind his zone-blocking.

Two-tight end sets can create an inherent advantage for the offense just through the multiplicity of threats it presents. It’s simple, really. The more versatile the offensive personnel, the more the defense has to think about. The more the defense has to think, the slower it plays.

Presnap adjustments. Flexible personnel makes for more flexibility in changing plays at the line of scrimmage. If a quarterback thinks his four-wide formation is too vulnerable to a blitz that the defense is threatening, he can slide his tight ends back inside to their usual positions and immediately go max protection. By the same token, he could also slide his tight ends to the receiver positions and create more spacing for his hot routes. There are countless wrinkles like these.

Half of quarterbacking takes place in the presnap phase. When you take both protection and route adjustments into consideration, a two-tight end package is by far the most pre-snap-friendly personnel grouping a quarterback can have. What’s more, because tight ends are respectable blocking and receiving threats, there’s more disguise and illusion created when they motion or shift prior to the snap. This flexibility pays dividends in a myriad of ways after the snap.

Helping your limited players. Tight ends are the most effective band-aids in the NFL. If you have a meager-armed quarterback that can’t consistently stretch the field, or more likely, a young passer who is uncomfortable working deep into his progressions, tight ends are the ultimate safety valve. Because they often line up so close to the formation (either on the line or in the tight slot), they have more freedom in the adjustments they can make to their routes. Another benefit that’s often forgotten is in pass protection. Even if you don’t want to keep a tight end in to block, you can still have him chip a defensive end at the beginning of his route. That’s enough to nullify the initial speed and quickness advantage that a quality pass-rusher has over a mediocre offensive tackle. The Saints are the best in the league at this. Their offense wouldn’t function if Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief had to actually block opponents one-on-one for an entire play.

These are all fairly basic concepts. What makes them complicated (from a defensive perspective) is that most tight ends today are capable blockers and receivers. Generally, a tight end specializes in one of those two areas, but most are capable of at least executing in both. Thus, with two tight ends simply being on the field, all of the concepts covered above are simultaneously in play.

Posted by: Andy Benoit on 30 Aug 2012

48 comments, Last at 22 Sep 2012, 12:39am by tuluse

Comments

1
by trill :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 3:18pm

Great read, Andy. One of the other things I love about 12 personnel is the presence of four immediate vertical threats. When you combine this with the pass protection versatility you mentioned, it causes real problems for the defense.

2
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 3:27pm

So why would these factors contribute to the RISE of the tight end? TEs have always enabled balanced formations, created matchup issues, and helped limited QBs and OTs. And TEs have allowed formation versatility at least since Shannon Sharpe was splitting out wide occasionally for the early '90s Broncos. The only recent changes have been the arrival of a few athletic freaks (Gronk, Graham, Hernandez) and maybe a little bit more creativity from the Patriots in how TEs are used.

4
by Paddy Pat :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 3:48pm

My sense is that in the past 3-4 years there have been more tight ends entering the league who really are good at both skills. The Patriots have been hunting for players like this for quite some time, with picks like Daniel Graham and Ben Watson, and they finally scored. Just because everyone's trying to emulate the two tight-end offense though, it doesn't mean that their personnel can run it the same way. I'm not sure the rise of the duel-value tight end is much more than a couple of statistical outliers.

27
by Podge (not verified) :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 9:05am

Do you get the feeling that Belicheck starting thinking "right, how would I beat my defence?" and then just went with it as his offense?

36
by Nathan :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 6:34pm

I think he thought "how can I beat the Jets' defense."

5
by jimbohead :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 3:59pm

I wonder if it has something to do with how the college game has evolved. More spread-option means more WRs blocking in space, means more kids being trained in both blocking and receiving. For instance, SF's #2 TE/H-back, Delaine Walker, was a WR in college who simply had developed the body and some of the skill sets necessary to block effectively at TE, yet still had training in how to run routes.

8
by justanothersteve :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 4:23pm

It goes back at least to Kellen Winslow Sr. I'm guessing someone else will know of an even earlier example.

14
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 5:46pm

I think Hutson split out. His famous first TD was from a tight end alignment, though.

\He beat Beattie Feathers on a deep post route for the TD

10
by Dan in Philly (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 4:50pm

The decline of the running game has lessened the need for either a clicking back or a TE who can really block that well. More and more TEs probably would have been WRs 10-20 years ago, but since offense have gotten more spread-y, and defenses have gotten smaller as a reaction to this, the importance of having a good catching TE has grown.

Who knows if this will continue, or if there will be a run-heavy backlash to take advantage of the smaller, faster defenses in the future? Maybe a return of the Redskins' Hogs on one team would give that team a competitive advantage over the relatively weaker DL and LB which now dominate the league, and the wheel will once again turn.

12
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 5:37pm

The last time passing really took off for a while, after defense reacted by shifting into the smaller 4-3, Vince Lombardi happened. Then the power pulling guard running offense came into vogue again -- linemen and running backs got bigger (biggest running backs ever got, actually) -- and the game became more run-based. Right up until teams started having to pass again to beat that.

41
by Zach991 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/05/2012 - 10:50pm

This is just my personal guess as to why, but... TEs traditionally before were just real small OL who could occasionally catch, or just big WRs. A TE was either great at blocking or great at receiving. There haven't been many people who were built like Gronk where he's big and can block well, while still being quick and fluid enough to be a great receiver as well.

3
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 3:28pm

[double post - please ignore]

6
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 4:05pm

This is not a repeat of 1940, 1960, or 1980.

It seems inevitable that the defensive reaction will either be a faster LB or a bigger safety -- just like the last three times tight ends started to dominate the league.

7
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 4:12pm

"No defense wants to play zone with all of its corners to one side and all of its safeties and linebackers to the other."

Oddly, having the defense itself line up unbalanced (46) more or less aligns it appropriately for that Patriot formation. Especially when your SLB is actually a SS.

9
by Dan in Philly (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 4:46pm

I predict "Ace Set" will be the "Wide Nine" like term of the year in 2012.

11
by Vince Verhei :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 4:59pm

Heh. I had an NFL magazine in 1992, the year after the Mark Rypien Redskins (DVOA's favorite team) won the Super Bowl, talking about the Redskins' ace packages, and how one day every team would single-back formations with multiple receivers. So they just about nailed that one, it just took a few more decades than they predicted.

13
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 5:45pm

I always enjoyed GB's contrarian full-house backfield formation.

The same team that plays with 5 receivers and 2 down linemen.

17
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 10:03pm

P-F-R blog had a post a while back about how Art Monk and Shannon Sharpe were essentially similar players who made similar contributions to their teams' formations, and the fact that one was listed as WR and the other was listed as TE is misleading because they were both hybrids.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/?p=1888

I think many of the new TEs sweeping the league would fit into that category.

18
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 10:49pm

What I took from that page was that the Pats just paid a big slow possession receiver a lot of money.

19
by JonFrum :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 12:48am

Money well spent.

25
by Alternator :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 7:22am

The Pats just paid a big, quick possession receiver who can either outrun or out-muscle most defenders, and is excellent at blocking, a lot of money. Given the numbers he put up, it's really hard to not consider it money well spent.

46
by tuluse :: Sat, 09/22/2012 - 12:23am

They also just franchised tagged a small slow possession receiver, and once upon a time traded a 2nd round pick for him. Seems to have worked out so far.

15
by Intropy :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 5:57pm

I have read that sending a tight end in motion pre snap is an important tool for the QB to diagnose the defense. The idea is that by observing how the defensive formation responds to the motion of the TE he can gain insight into how the formation will evolve post snap. If anyone has more information about how this works, particularly how multiple tight ends can affect this tactic, I'd be interested.

16
by Drunken5yearold :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 7:35pm

I don't know much, but I've read that the QB is looking to see how the defense responds to the motion in order to determine what type of defense has been called. So, as I understand it, a man defense would respond differently to the motion than a zone defense, and a good QB can glean even more information then just that from the response.

Btw, it doesn't have to be a TE. Lots of offenses will motion a running back or full back out of the backfield to serve the same purpose. The Chargers will even line up the full back out wide and have him motion into the backfield, which I always thought looked pretty weird.

39
by Zach991 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/05/2012 - 10:38pm

That's essentially the purpose, yeah. If the defense is playing man coverage with a LB on the TE, the LBs will have to shift around to make sure they're in position to cover their personal assignment. Like Drunken said though, it doesn't need to be a TE. Bringing a WR for example in motion would accomplish the same goal.

Besides being able to better decipher whether the defense is in man or zone, seeing the opposition in motion can sometimes cause the defense to show their cards earlier than expected and show where a blitz is coming from or other important information about the defense's play.

20
by JonFrum :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 12:57am

There have been receiver/tight ends for a generations now - guys who lined up at TE but didn't block much, and were really oversized wide receivers. What Belichick has done is put both a standard tight end who is an excellent receiver (Gronk) and a non-blocking receiver tight end on the field at the same time. You could call it a fluke of the draft, but Belichick had to pull the trigger on Hernandez after he already had Gronkowski. Of course, he didn't know how it would turn out, but he saw them both play, and he knew their general talents.

I remember years ago reading that when a coach was asked where all the tight ends were, he said they were in the NBA. It made sense - guys that big who were athletic enough to be receivers would probably be attracted to b-ball. Things certainly have changed since then - there's an embarrassment of TE riches today.

21
by David :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 2:47am

Just to note that the niners play an awful lot of 2-TE formations, to the extent that I think it's their base formation, as well. I feel that the reason this isn't mentioned in the article is that it sort of puts paid to the idea that 2 TE formations are any good - given the general ineffectiveness of the 49ers offense...

23
by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 4:45am

My impression is that the rather limp performance of the niners out of that package is due to Delanie Walker dropping most of the passes thrown at him while being an inferior blocker to Davis, meaning that the 49ers best receiver ends up blocking. Also that while the Pats spread defenses out with that personnel, the niners tend to bunch up, often in bizarre sets of five man surfaces that are easily defended with zone blitzes because they haven't forced the defense to defend the entire field.

33
by zenbitz :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 1:59pm

Walker never struck me as having bad hands. Average TE hands maybe. But I think you are correctly about the bunch formations and Vernon Davis being the max-protect guy. Also, they run out of 2 TE sets... which is sort of the opposite of unpredictable.

80% of the Niners success (such as it is) on offense is when they pass out out of an obvious run set/run down-and-distance. This was true of the Jimmy Raye "offense" as well. Dude loved to put the ball up on 3rd and 1.

I do think that having WRs who can actually get separation will help. Although I can't be sure that Manningham/Moss/Healthy Crabtree are those guys.

22
by adamsternum :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 4:28am

Fantastic. Thanks, Andy!

24
by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 5:07am

One other advantage rendered by spreading 12 personnel across the field is that it becomes increasingly difficult to design a defense that is much above vanilla. An intricate blitz where the Sam and Mike loop round to fire into the B-gap as the strong side end drops into the flat under a tight end is suddenly neutered as the H-back lines up in the weak side of the backfield and the tight end ends up wide of the split end, the defense is forced to check to a basic play because otherwise the blitz will be obvious and any competent qb will kill them.

The Patriots are one of, if not the best in the league at moving their people around in a way that means that they face puff pastry defenses, it's really very clever but not a great trend if you like to see interesting defenses.

28
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 9:19am

I suspect the offense will work until teams remember that the Patriots don't run the ball. There's no reason to even pretend either TE is going to block when they never do.

29
by Joseph :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 10:23am

While they don't run the ball much (just like the Saints), they have had HERNANDEZ!! run the ball. Theoretically, they could bring Welker, Branch, and WR3 in with Gronk and Hernandez, and when the D counters with a dime package, motion Gronk & Hernandez in the backfield as FB & RB respectively, and then run. (Caveat--I don't know how well the Pats WR's block; they could just as easily bring in the TE3 instead of the WR3 and still do the same thing.)

31
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 1:36pm

Hernandez has eight career rushes. That's about as many rushes per year as Jerry Rice.

42
by Joseph :: Thu, 09/06/2012 - 10:47am

IIRC, wasn't it against DEN in the playoffs last year that Hernandez took 5 handoffs from the tailback position? Rice never did that--he always ran end-arounds/reverses. My thought was just that the Pats technically have the personnel to run from what appears to be 5 wide (and IMO that's just not fair).

40
by Zach991 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/05/2012 - 10:44pm

Actually, the whole "Patriots don't run the ball" thing is mostly a myth. I don't remember the exact numbers, but I remember reading about how the Patriots have been either #1 or #2 in the AFC East the past several years in terms of how balanced their offense has been.

26
by Podge (not verified) :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 9:02am

The downside is, of course, that you need your tight ends to both be quick enough to run and catch, and big and strong enough to block. Otherwise what you have is either a relatively slow receiver who doesn't create mismatches when blocking, or a very slow receiver who doesn't create mismatches when passing. And I suspect the amount of people who have the necessary skills to be both is pretty limited.

47
by tuluse :: Sat, 09/22/2012 - 12:37am

Or you have Kellen Davis, who meets the physical requirements, but it's an awful route runner, has terrible ball skills, and can be inconsistent when blocking.

30
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 10:32am

I seem to recall the Packers running a lot of 2 TE sets on the 96 team with Keith Jackson and Mark Chmura. I know passing wasn't quite what it is today but they did combine for 22% of the teams passing yards and ranked #2 and #17 in DYAR for TE's that year, but they did both average right around 13 YPC too which is right around the combined YPC for Gronk and Hernandez (they were 13.2 the old Packers were 12.8). Yes I know it's not the 42.5% that Gronk and Hernandez had for the 11 Pats and they were 1 and 9 in DYAR, but it still seems that it isn't completely unprecedented.

That Packers team also passed to the running backs a lot, 89 of Favre's 325 completions were to the backs. They didn't play empty backfields like the Pats did (no one did back then), and they did a lot of 2 back, 2 TE vs the 1 back 2 TE of the Pats but they had designed routes for Henderson (FB) and Levens/Bennet (HB) and you would see the 2 TE single back, 2 WR look out of them too. They would motion any of them out of the backfield and into the slot, they moved the TE's around too having them line up wide at times. It was the same type of concept a base personnel package that had a lot of flexibility. Though only having one true WR on the field did limit things more than keeping 2 out there like the Pats did. Though yes the RB routes were more traditional "West Coast" replace the running game with a passing game type deal but 20 yard receptions by the backs weren't uncommon and they did get 7 of the 39 TD receptions for the team.

So yes the Pats are doing things differently than we've seen before, but why they are doing it. It's not the H-back either (which was something the Redskins started and the term was taken from their nomenclature even). The old receiving full back who could catch and take a few carries is being replaced by another TE now that I fully agree with.

I guess my issue is that it's not really the two tight end set that is so new, it's the 2 tight end 1 running back that we first saw a lot with the Redskins that the Pats have taken to new levels.

32
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 1:43pm

This is sort of similar in nature to what the 50s Browns did, isn't it?

Lavelli and Brewster as the TEs, Modzelewski as the single back, and Renfro and Morrison as the receivers? (wingbacks in this 50s version, though)

The run/pass balance was way different, but the concept was reasonable similar, wasn't it? Those Browns teams didn't pass much, but they were good when they did. (Sound familiar?)

34
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 2:49pm

Yeah I wasn't trying to claim the Packers were the initial innovators it was just the most pertinent example that I had good familiarity with and the easiest salary cap era team for me to recall as well since I still feel (like others around here) that the salary cap and modern free agency have been the biggest changes to the game since the forward pass was made legal.

But yes there have been several times where teams have been able to find nice offensive "tweener" type athletes that were good enough at several aspect of the game to cause match up issues and allow a single formation to have a lot of flexibility. As you mention the 50's Browns did it with TE's and a single back as well. A few teams have done it with a single TE and FB + HB where the FB was a decent runner so you didn't know who the ball would be handed too and had the ability to run routes and catch. The Packers weren't the only team that did that. Larry Centers is another player that comes to mind as a full back that filled that role recently, Keith Byers is another one and those guys were focal points of teams passing games like some of the current TE examples. Teams have always wanted players like that, now a days they tend to be tight ends and the emphasis is more on receiver ability for them as well since the game is tilted towards passing more than ever.

Though yeah the 50's Browns are really one of the the best (and one of, if not the, oldest examples) of the truly balanced 2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB formation.

None of this is to say that I'm not very interested in how the Pats are going to develop this and what other teams are going to do as well, or just how defenses are going to react to it (and the spread 5 pass catcher formations for that matter which I have acknowledged the Pats are fairly unique in running it with two TE and not 1 TE and 4 WR).

I also didn't intend to sound as critical of the article as I may have, I just get used to getting fairly good tie ins to the history of the game on this site and this article seemed to miss some of that. But as usual the comments section has done a good job of pointing some of that out.

35
by Intropy :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 5:19pm

I'm going to suggest free substitution as the biggest change since the forward pass, but your point it taken.

37
by TexansPimp (not verified) :: Sat, 09/01/2012 - 1:55am

The Texans have a bit of a wrinkle in this two tight end scenario. They have a taken a TE James Casey and made him a full back, now picture a base formation of Casy in front of Arian foster in an I formation. The defense has to respect that by NOT bringing in an extra safety. Pre-snap Casey shifts to a TE postion or out to the slot. Just before the snap he goes in motion to end up blocking for Foster on a strech run play. Casey has the size, speed and hands to handle all three spots(FB,TE and Slot) All that motion allows Matt Shaub and Foster see how the defense reacts. Pretty cool huh.

38
by nonbeliever (not verified) :: Mon, 09/03/2012 - 4:39am

thank god the supposed defensive guru cant put together even a mediocre defense the last how many years? Pats have been so good at picking for value in the draft and its why they sparked the recent 3-4 conversions. Im a bit surprised they didnt switch more to a 4-3 or at least give themselves better personnel for the hybrid when 3-4 players were flying off the board and the tables had switched because wilfork woudl still be a beast in a 403 with decent talent. The TE's are nothing new but they were cheap for the potential in the draft that was why they were picked. Seems like they find something new every year but still cant help but feeling like they rely on it and besides that it ouwld be a lil different of a story. Brady, welker, solder, spikes (was considered too slow by alot of scouts), gronk hernandez, branch ( if you look at the team all the wrs were under 5'10 or something wtf how does that work?) mediocre running game horrible defense and both of those have been for a while its kinda of miraculous that brady could shift into diff kinds of passing offensives so seemlessly and if he hadnt they would be in full rebuilding mode. Then again it happens to teams all the time hell the giants o line was one of the worst in football last years, the running game dried up and the d was mdeiocre for a bunch of the year.

43
by Jimmy :: Thu, 09/06/2012 - 11:25am

If the idea is for the offense to make defenders tip their hand or lose leverage by using variable formations then this ties into my personal confusion as to why the league as a whole moved away from split backs formations and almost exclusively run the ball using the I formation. Lining up two TEs in the slot to one side with the RB outside them stretches the defense laterally. If you line up with your HB behind the LT, your FB behind the RT and the TE next to the RT (ie standard Pro set) then the defense has to choose to either rotate to the blocking strength and leave acres of space for the HB or split end to exploit in the passing game as well as limited coverage options for those two players. If they try to cheat a linebacker outside to give better leverage for coverage on the HB then they will be wide open for a run inside by either back.

Swap the backs around and you are emphasising different gaps and pressuring different defenders. Line them up in plus splits and you change the defense again. The defense would have to constantly adjust and make decisions asa to assignments and alignments. The more decisions you make them make the higher the chance they will get one wrong. Yes the I-form allows you to attack either side but every single defender in the league knows exactly what his responsibilities are when playing against it. Make them think, it doesn't have to be with TEs.

48
by tuluse :: Sat, 09/22/2012 - 12:39am

I would guess that the decline of FB who carry the ball is a big reason.

Still, it is surprising how it's almost completely disappeared.

44
by Barry Nash (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2012 - 4:22pm

It's bullshit that Belichek gets all the credit for the 2 tight end offense when Bill Parcells tried to do the very same thing with the Cowboys in 2006 when he drafted Fasano in the 2nd round to play the same time as Witten. Unfortunately, they lost their left tackle in the first game and had no backup, so one of the tight ends had to help the line on every play. I have never heard Belicheat give Parcells an once of credit for his career, even though Everything Belichek has is because of Parcells. He never would have even gotten that New England job if Parcells didn't bring him there after his huge failure in Cleveland. He never would have won the first 2 Super Bowls if all those great players Parcells drafted weren't still there playing (Troy Brown, McGinist, Bruschi, Milloy, etc) Bill Belichek is a cheat, a fraud, and an ingrate.

45
by Nathan :: Fri, 09/21/2012 - 6:18pm

It's "Belichick".