The 2011 NFL season forever revolutionized how the tight-end position can be played and utilized.
It's not that the league hasn't seen great pass-catching tight ends—like Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark, to name a few—but the 2011 season showed how much havoc the position can cause.
The New England Patriots were brilliant on offense last year. They pretty much let opposing defenses pick their poisons.
The Patriots could spread the field with wide receivers and leave linebackers with the responsibility to cover the tight ends. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are extremely athletic and turned any coverage into a mismatch. Gronkowski finished with 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns, and Hernandez had 79 receptions for 910 yards and seven scores.
The size, speed and strength of the two Pats players made them game changers. If a team put its elite defensive back on or even double-teamed one of the tight ends, it simply made itself vulnerable in a different spot.
So, because leaving a defense on its heels and vulnerable all game by utilizing two tight ends has proven itself to work, Buffalo should join in on the fun.
Many other teams are following suit.
The Indianapolis Colts drafted tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen for a dual threat. The Detroit Lions have Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler ready to make plays. The Broncos even brought in the promising Joel Dressen and former Colt Jacob Tamme for Peyton Manning in Denver.
Teams are adapting to what is working in the NFL.
And so should Buffalo.
The Bills already have a productive tight end in Scott Chandler. Early on in the 2011 season, he was a major red-zone threat and a favorite target of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Tight ends can be a quarterback's security blanket when plays break down.
The only problems are that Chandler was a dud for the final half of last season and that Buffalo has no true No. 2 tight end.
The only other tight ends on the Bills roster are Kevin Brock, Mike Caussin, Fendi Onobun, Lee Smith and the expandable Dorin Dickerson. Not exactly household names.
Maybe Buffalo uses training camp to try to develop one of these guys into a threat in the passing game. The team does need some tight ends that can block, so some players can contribute that way.
But the Bills want the playoffs now. So why not give Fitz another solid target that causes mismatches on defense? Believe it or not, Buffalo still has options in free agency if they want to go that route.
There are cheap veterans that are available for the sake of the passing game. This includes Visanthe Shiancoe, Jeremy Shockey, Daniel Graham and Bo Scaife. Though Shiancoe has tried out for New England, Buffalo should be a more attractive option for him.
So, if the Bills want to win games and make the playoffs, they should consider using two-tight-end formations.
They can try developing their own TEs, if they please.
Or they can test the market to add a proven veteran for cheap.
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