In the NFL today it’s no secret that the tight end is a huge asset in the pass-heavy spread offenses of successful teams. Fantasy hounds scoop up good tight ends early now because they produce touchdowns and often rack up yards comparable to the No. 1 receiver on the team or better. The Detroit Lions, with one of the premier quarterbacks in the league and the best receiver, completely underwhelm when it comes to using tight ends in their offense.
Brandon Pettigrew is a beast physically. He’s not the fastest player in the world and doesn’t have outstanding hands, but if you hit him in the chest he’ll likely catch it and carry a defender for a few yards. It should be noted that his chest is massive, and Matthew Stafford is more than capable of sticking the football into Pettigrew’s numbers like a dart into a corkboard. Pettigrew has three or more catches in the last seven weeks, which is solid, but it’s not good enough for a team as pass-heavy as the Lions when a second option to Calvin Johnson is needed so badly. He also only topped 50 yards three times in that stretch. The Lions should be targeting Pettigrew to rack up a minimum of 50 yards per game.
Teams that have success with their tight ends move them around along the line and often treat them like a slot receiver. In other words, they run option routes and just get open. This works well with tight ends because their big bodies can seal off defenders once they find open space. Pettigrew and the Lions need to get better with mixing it up underneath and in the flats to get him open so they have another big body out there catching passes to take the heat off Johnson.
In their upcoming matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the Lions need to get back to scoring points, put up a big number, and gain back some confidence. Pettigrew and the other tight ends on the team are crucial for the Lions’ offensive success.