It is no secret the Jets struggled at the tight end position in 2015. In fact, struggled might be putting it lightly. One could argue no team got less production out of its tight ends both blocking and receiving than the Jets.
The lack of emphasis in the passing game at the position has brought up an interesting discussion as the Jets turn to the offseason. How important is it to upgrade tight end? Was part of the problem that Chan Gailey's offense simply does not have a role for tight ends?
I decided to take a quick look at how tight ends fared in recent Gailey offenses. Chan has a long career in the NFL and has evolved as a coach so I decided to look at the offenses he ran after his stint as head coach at Georgia Tech ended in 2007. Since then, the 2015 Jets were the fifth NFL offense he has overseen as either a head coach or an offensive coordinator.
The other four were the 2008 Chiefs and the 2010-12 Bills.
In 2008 the Kansas City passing game certainly featured a tight end. Tony Gonzalez was second on the team in targets, with 155, only 2 behind Dwayne Bowe. Gonzalez led the Chiefs in all major receiving statistics that season.
Does that settle the score on this issue? Kansas City in 2008 was an extreme case. They had a first ballot Hall of Fame type talent at the position.
Well in 2012, Scott Chandler on the Bills was second in targets. He finished either first or second in all major receiving statistics for Buffalo that season.
Does Gailey deemphasize the tight end because he doesn't believe in utilizing the position, or did the Jets just not have anybody worth utilizing in the passing game? I tend to think it was the latter.
Todd Bowles talked in broad terms about the way the coaches would put in their systems in May 20.
As we get to know personnel on both sides of the ball, we’ll try to tailor it for some guys and let them do things that they can do. As a team, we’re going to evolve, but definitely offensively and defensively as well as special teams. It’s not just going to be Chan (Gailey) seeing what he has, it’s going to be Kacy (Rodgers) seeing what he has and Bobby (April) seeing what he has to overall evolve as a team and see what we can do best.
I get the feeling one of the big selling points with Gailey is Bowles viewed him as adaptable.
The Jets didn't have a ton of talent at tight end, particularly after Jace Amaro got hurt. What they did was get creative a bit to make up for the lack of quality players at the position.
This might be one of the reasons Eric Decker was moved into the slot. They got a bigger body inside who could help block a little bit. During the season there was much discussion about Jeremy Kerley's diminished role, but the Jets were willing to sacrifice Kerley's production because they felt they would be more effective on the whole with Decker inside.
The Jets also turned Quincy Enunwa into a tight end. They manufactured a player with the correct skillset to help out a group that was not good enough on its own.
I get the impression Gailey worked around the tight ends he had, not that he intentionally froze out the tight ends out of personal preference. If the Jets can find an upgrade who makes sense, I think they will pursue him.