During the Tom Coughlin era the tight end position has been mostly about blocking. This strategy, along with the tutelage of tight end coach Mike Pope, has allowed the New York Giants to use unheralded players at the position. But with the hiring of Ben McAdoo and the subsequent firing of Pope, will the Giants use their tight end differently this season?
The last time the Giants had a big-name tight end was Jeremy Shockey. When Coughlin became coach Shockey made several complaints, having trouble adjusting from the more open offense he was featured in under Jim Fassel and Sean Payton.
Since Shockey’s trade to the New Orleans Saints, the Giants have featured players such as Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard, Martellus Bennett and Brandon Myers. Every one of those players was used more for their blocking than their receiving. Except for Myers, of course, who proved terrible at both.
The point is, outside of Myers, Pope has been able to work wonders with a revolving door of relatively average tight ends. He has proven to be especially adept at improving blocking technique.
Unless the team was particularly disappointed with the performance of Myers, the firing of Pope wouldn’t make sense if they wanted to continue to feature the tight end as a blocker. It’s not like McAdoo brought a tight end coach with him. Instead the Giants opted to slide Kevin Gilbride Jr. from receivers coach to the vacated tight end spot.
As for McAdoo, he comes from the Green Bay Packers offense that has looked to feature its tight end more as a receiver. McAdoo was most recently the quarterbacks coach but worked with the tight ends before that.
Their main target at tight end the last several years has been Jermichael Finley. He’s battled injury issues, but the two seasons Finley played a full 16 games he averaged over 90 targets a season. In contrast, the Giants’ tight ends have averaged 72 targets over the last five seasons.
The picture will certainly be clearer once the Giants sign their next tight end.
Both Packers’ tight ends Andrew Quarless and Finley are free agents, and my colleague Dan Schneier has already addressed why Finley won’t be a good choice. There will be other choices in the free agent market, and North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron will most likely be available when the Giants pick at the No. 12 spot come May.
The Giants’ offense is changing. We’ll have to wait till the season opener to see what this offense will look like and how closely it will resemble the Packers, but for now it seems safe to say that whoever lines up at tight end will be featured more in the passing game than in the past.