The Jets tried to downplay it.
Gailey on Amaro being listed as 3rd TE: it's because they don't list H-Back on a roster. #NYJ— Chris Lopresti (@CLoprestiWFAN) August 11, 2015
Now what the heck kind of spin is that? My goal is to explain. Please forgive me as there will be some oversimplification.
The Jets might list Jeff Cumberland and Jace Amaro both as tight ends, but they have taken the view that there are two distinct tight end positions.
Here is how Todd Bowles explained it back in May.
On Jeff Cumberland getting the predominant first-team reps at tight end over Jace Amaro…
Well, he’s the first team tight end right now. Amaro is the H right now. He’s the first-team H. We play with two. When you have a down tight end on the ball, that’s more Cumberland’s thing, but when you have an H back or an F position, that’s more Amaro’s thing. It’s not the matter of fact that he’s the first team tight end, he’s the first Y, Amaro is the first H.
What are these two different positions? It feels like the Jets want to use Cumberland as a traditional in-line tight end.
Offensive lines have five members. The tight ends lines up on the line right next to a tackle. For a visual representation, see the hi-tech GGN graphic below.
Bowles called this tight end position the Y so we'll follow his lead. The five O's represent offensive linemen. The Y is the tight end. This guy has a mixed role. He goes out on passing routes, but he also functions as a sixth offensive lineman at times as both as pass blocker and a run blocker.
The thing to remember is this type of tight end lines up next to a tackle.
When a team goes to a two tight end package, somebody in the H role comes into play. The H does not line up on the line. He can line up on either side of the formation or go into motion. For visual representations, see the high-tech GGN graphics below.
Now what is the point of this? If you don't want to impress people at parties, here are some useless things to know. Joe Gibbs is credited with popularizing the H concept during his first stint as the head coach in Washington. Back then, it had a lot to do with blocking.
Gibbs had to deal with Lawrence Taylor in his division. Replacing the fullback with a second tight end or H allowed his team to better block Taylor off the edge. Simply by sticking an extra body at the end of the line extended the edge Taylor had to get around to get to the quarterback. That increased distance would buy his offense an extra tick to get a pass off.
For a visual representation, see the hi-tech GGN graphics below.
In case you could not figure out, the green LT stands for Lawrence Taylor in the hi-tech GGN graphics.
It also could help blocking on run plays. Which is easier on a run to the right? Is it having a fullback run all the way to the right side, or having that blocker already in the area where the ball is being run? For a visual representation, see the hi-tech GGN graphics below.
The league has shifted steadily in the direction of the passing game, and this role has become used increasingly to create mismatches. H types line up all over the field. They line up on both sides. Sometimes they come out of the backfield lined up in that traditional fullback spot to go into patterns. More and more, we are even seeing tight ends split wide or drop into the slot (technically not an H role, but you get the point). If a player is versatile enough to line up in multiple places, a good offensive coordinator can find a spot to isolate that player against a weak pass defender. A good H's ability to go into motion can also force a defense to adjust its alignment to defend him, which might tip off something about the defense's playcall.
Again, this is overly simplistic. In reality, we will likely see Amaro line up at points at the traditional in-line tight end spot next to a tackle. We will also probably see Cumberland on the move a bit to try and utilize his athleticism. Bowles was discussing the way the coaching staff generally views the skillsets of its players.
Amaro might be the third guy in the traditional role, and that's why he's third on the depth chart. The coaches also say he is the first guy in the H role. That role just isn't listed on the depth chart so you didn't see it there. It does not mean Amaro will lack a big role.