Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lockout Hangover: Tight End

Some positions on the team are being shaped more by injury than competition or practice right now. Tight end is one of them. It's also shaped by scheme. In theory, two-TE sets give you balance, flexibility, and unpredictability. They also helps a struggling QB by providing a quick pressure valve. If the preseason is any indicator, such sets will be prominent in this offense.

Chicago has gotten terrific mileage out of the Greg Olsen-Desmond Clark duo. Technically, Olsen was the starter thanks to his superior blocking, yet they got very similar amounts of playing time. So the "starter" label on Seattle's offense may not mean a whole lot in terms of snaps granted.


Zach Miller

It's still a little hard to believe we got this guy. GM John Schneider has mentioned that they had to stray a little from the free agency "master plan" to nab him once he became available. It would have been stupid not to, once the expectation that he would stay in Oakland became less certain.

I'm glad he showed the flexibility. Miller is a playmaker. He's led Oakland in receiving yards for the last three years, by a wide margin in some cases, receiving passes from the likes of Jason Campbell, Jamarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski, and Charlie Frye. At 6'5", Miller is a matchup nightmare in the Carroll-Schneider mold. Like John Carlson, he lacks burning speed, but also like Carlson, he has a knack for finding soft spots in zones and producing well in the role of pressure valve for QB. His consistency, experience, and skill set all bode well for Tarvaris Jackson, though Miller's production may still drop somewhat.


John Carlson

PFW recently reported that Seattle is becoming "increasingly concerned" about Carlson's labrum injury. It's a completely isolated report that hasn't been echoed by Seattle's media, so who knows its validity. If it's bad, it could be a tear. Carroll says Carlson is improving, but Carroll has a reputation for being overly optimistic with injuries.

Whatever the case, the injury threatens Carlson's place in Seattle much more than the signing of Zach Miller ever did. The starting TE set was always going to feature two starting-quality guys, but Carlson is now missing valuable practice reps after looking good in training camp. He's in the last year of his contract, and if the depth behind him proves capable, he'll match the profile of "Schneider trade bait", commanding more trade value than anyone on the roster. Or Seattle might very well keep the tight end for his experience. There's no guarantee that a trade will occur.

Some Seattle fans are finished with Carlson because of his 2010 decline. It's hard to suss out the explanation for that. John Morgan of Fieldgulls felt that Matt Hasselbeck was responsible. He also granted the possibility that Carlson is another early-flameout Ruskell pick who can't adjust to the league adjusting to him. Hard to say, but I do think that we've given up on him awful quick. The signing of Miller could be the explanation for that, but Carlson was a hero for his first two years, repeatedly bailing out bad QB play just like Miller did with the Raiders. How does he get dismissed so easily?

Cameron Morrah

Tim Ruskell's seventh-round pick in 2009 was showing some impressive flashes late last year in Jeremy Bates' offense. He's been sidelined with a toe injury and has shown no hint of improving. If he opens the season on the PUP list, he'll be out for the first six weeks of the season, allowing the other TE's an extended tryout to replace him.

Anthony McCoy

Rob Staton of Seahawks Draft Blog looked at McCoy and saw a borderline 1st-round talent who dropped because of marijuana usage. After a tough 2010 involving drops, depth chart burial, and a season-ending injury, McCoy is rebounding nicely in training camp. He's caught 6 passes for 46 yards and the team's only 2 receiving TD's, one from Charlie Whitehurst and one from Josh Portis. That happened against second-half defenses, so McCoy might start getting some looks with the starter offense to judge his true potential soon.

Dominique Byrd

The USC alum and NFC West drifter (he's played for St. Louis and Arizona) also has 6 receptions, but almost twice the YPR (14.0) of McCoy, suggesting a potential deep threat at tight end. In all likelihood, the fourth TE spot (assuming there is one) will probably come down to Byrd and Morrah.

Camp Fodder

Jameson Konz

This year's Jordan Kent has been relieved of tight end duties and given a shot at pass-rushing, where by all accounts he's actually kinda okay. I just think the roster's too crowded to spare him. Maybe practice squad.

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