I’m interested to see what the Patriots do with their new tight ends. Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith are both capable tight ends, and Bill Belichick has a history of successfully using multiple players at the position.
It was the use of double tight ends (I think) that was one of Belichick’s first big contributions as a coach. He was just starting out, as a lower-level assistant with the Lions, and he made the observation that he thought it would create problems if the team used two tight ends at the same time.
More recently, if we go back 10 years, the Patriots had the most productive pair of tight ends in NFL history. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in the 2011 season combined for 169 catches for 2,237 yards and 25 touchdowns (all-time highs for a one-two punch of tight ends).
Neither Henry nor Smith is quite a Gronk-type guy, but they’re both capable. I expect the Patriots will have a lot of success shuffling these guys around, creating mismatches. In general, if opponents trying to play smaller, coverage-type defenses, they can emphasize the run, with the mismatch of tight ends blocking defensive backs. And Henry and Smith are good enough as pass catchers that they can’t be covered by some linebackers.
Below see the top 25 pair of tight ends, using PPR scoring. Four of the top 10 pairs are from the Patriots in the 2011-15 seasons. I think they’ll be dusting off a lot of those plays this year.
|MOST PRODUCTIVE TANDEMS OF TIGHT ENDS|