Analyze That! The Tight Ends and Their Impact in 2012
By Luke Sims
This article would be completely unnecessary if Marcedes Lewis had returned to 2010 form during the 2011 season. However, he did not. In an almost completely stagnant Jacksonville passing game, Marcedes Lewis was unable to be the playmaker the Jags desperately needed and instead fell flat.
He recorded 13.1 less yards per game than he did in 2010, and he averaged a catch less per game as well. The drop of nearly 240 yards of production from the year before was baffling for some of us fans. We would watch, hoping that a rookie quarterback’s best friend (a tight end) would make a catch and save the day. Drawing the Jags from the brink of destruction to suddenly be competitive again.
Alas, it was not so.
But Marcedes Lewis is not the only tight end on the team.
Before the draft, the Jags have four tight ends with the team. (If you would like a more detailed analysis of the Jags pre-draft roster, please click to this beautiful piece by our own Daniel Lago) Marcedes Lewis leads the group followed by Zach Miller, Zach Potter, and Colin Cloherty.
- Lewis the dominant tight end of the three, providing good blocking with very good hands (Except in 2011…) and a big body (6’6″ 255 lbs) that puts him in a position to be a good red zone threat as well as control his opponent when being covered.
- Miller is a good pass catching tight end who consistently averages about 10 yards per reception each season. Unfortunately Miller has not been able to stay healthy and has yet to finish a complete season, appearing in only four games in 2011.
- Potter is a situational tight end who has slowly worked his way onto the roster and into games. He appeared in 15 games in 2011 and started seven but only brought in five passes for 50 yards. Potter is a much better blocker than he is receiving threat but has managed show enough potential to continually be brought back by the Jags over the past three years.
- Cloherty was signed by the Jags from their practice squad last December in order to get another man on the field when need be. Having a “third” tight end (he’s really the fourth) was good for the Jaguars in situations where the opposition was crowding the box to stop Maurice Jones-Drew. He recorded four receptions in four games for 57 yards in 2011.
The Jags need greater production from Lewis in 2012 if they hope to have a balanced offensive attack. It is good to have a tight end who is a receiving threat and good at blocking, especially when the offense is channeled through the running back. Zach Miller is the best of the “backups” but doesn’t posses good enough blocking abilities to be considered a viable starting option as the lone tight end for the Jaguars.
As mentioned earlier, Gabbert desperately needs a quarterback’s best friend to be one of his tight ends. Gabbert’s arm is pro-level, but he needs sure hands out on the flat or coming from a late break that can enable him to get an easy 3-5 yards (or more!) when needed.
If the Jaguars’ tight ends don’t play up to their form (especially Lewis) I’m afraid they may have a negative impact in 2012. It’s always good to get a big body on the line, especially when they’re a dual threat, but unless the team can effectively transition into a more balanced attack it’ll be difficult for the team to get better as an overall offense in 2012.
– Luke N. Sims