What should NFL defenses look forward to this season?

Without a doubt, any NFL Coach, General Manager, Player, Fan, etc. can tell you that we are in an era where offenses rely heavy on their passing attack. Unlike back in the 80s and 90s where the “ground & pound” style of play was the priority of most coaches, modern teams have switched to relying on their Quarterback to air the ball out to a variety of passing threats. Over the past 10 seasons, EVERY team that has won the Superbowl has had at least 2 legitimate passing options, if not more. Just look at the past 3 Champs: the 2012 Giants, the 2011 Packers, and the 2010 Saints. Each of these teams dominated the score board through their passing game. Of course, defensive coordinators are giving their best effort to stop these “pass-happy” teams and are occasionally successful. However, the newest twist in offensive schemes, that has yet to be completely stopped, has been the 2 Tight End offensive formation.

 

We all know NFL coaches copy each other when they see strategies that work (does the Wildcat formation ring a bell?), so this trend is going to take the NFL by storm this season. After the league sat in awe at how Bill Belichick’s Tight Ends destroyed defenses on a weekly basis, other teams are attempting to mimic their success. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are both bona fide Tight Ends who can catch just about anything thrown in the air, so having both of them in the game at once confuses defenses leaving 1 of them open on just about every passing play. Recently, Tight Ends who can catch have been a hot commodity in the NFL (i.e. Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark, Tony Gonzalez, Vernon Davis, Jermichael Finley, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, etc.) but imagine having 2 of these guys on the same team and on the field at the same time… pretty scary right? This is what many teams are trying to do this year, especially to assist young Quarterbacks.

 

The new Colts will have Andrew Luck under center and will feature Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen (both rookies) who were drafted to not only protect Luck but also for their catching ability. The Bengals are also attempting to design a 2 Tight End system with their drafting of Orson Charles to accompany Jermaine Greshamand assist their young Quarterback, Andy Dalton. Another team that added a Tight End in the draft was San Diego.

 

It’s no secret, Tight Ends who can catch create matchup nightmares for defenses; they can out-run line backers, out-muscle most safeties, and out-jump most cornerbacks, so having 2 of them in the game is double the trouble.

 

 

Most veteran Quarterbacks opt for a spread offense with 3 or 4 wide receiver sets, however, this may be too complex for some young QBs. So what does this mean for RG3 and the Redskins? The Redskins have both a healthy Chris Cooley and a rejuvenated Fred Davis both returning at Tight End. Cooley and Davis have proven that they are capable receivers and good route runners and are expected to have a major impact on the Redskins offense. The Shanahan-style of offense, with the athleticism of RG3, and the proven ability of both of these Tight Ends to be receivers could potentially stifle defenses and provide for a smooth transition to the NFL for the Heisman winning Quarterback. It will definitely worth watching this new trend unfold in the NFL and especially in DC this upcoming season.

Thanks for reading!

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