Jacob Tamme has stepped in at tight end for the Colts after Dallas Clark's wrist injury at Washington ended his season and produced numbers similar to Clark's. I have come to think of Clark as the most important guy a defense should focus on taking away to stop Peyton Manning. He has all of the physical tools of an elite receiver, but he is built like a linebacker. He's too fast for linebackers to cover and too big for safeties. Manning used him as a security blanket because Clark was constantly open due to mismatches.
It is somewhat striking then to find that Manning actually leaned on Tamme about as heavily than he did on Clark last year. After taking over as a starter in Week 8, Tamme averaged 9.3 targets per game. Clark averaged 8.2 in 2009. Manning threw to Tamme on 21% of his throws the last 10 games of 2010 against 23% to Clark in 2009. Manning completed 72% of his passes to Tamme this year. He hit 75% of his throws to Clark in 2009.
Those numbers are similar, but the rest of the statistics prove that Clark is a significantly more dangerous weapon. He averaged 1.7 more yards per catch last year than Tamme did this year. 10% of his catches were for touchdowns against just under 6% for Tamme. Clark had 11 catches of over 20 yards in 16 games against 5 in 10 games for Tamme. It comes out to an increase of almost 20% in Clark's favor. Clark had 3 catches netting at least 40 yards. Tamme had none.
Jacob Tamme has been a good pass catcher. The Jets should be concerned about him. Dallas Clark is the kind of tight end that can destroy an opponent like a sledge hammer. He would have been a much more difficult assignment. Not facing him is another factor making this year's Playoff trip to Indianapolis less daunting.