GreenBay Packer Nation

Breaking Down a “Special” Offense: Part 2 – Tight Ends

There has been a lot of talk about how the Packers offense could be “special” this year, but what does that mean? In this series we will look at key statistics from last season to determine what positions, units, and aspects of the game could be improved to make the 2015 Packers offense better than the 2014 Packers offense.

If there was one offensive position group that was less than stellar last season, it was the tight ends. If you don’t lump them in with the backs, the Packers tight end group did some good things and showed up from time to time at critical moments, but would not be considered stellar.

Since the Packers lost Jermichael Finley, they have not had a tight end that was off the charts in terms of measurables with both size and speed. The Packers red zone offense could use an upgrade in the tight end department as a compressed field lends itself to those big bodies that can both block and catch. Last year, the Packers scored touchdowns in the red zone only 57.14% of the time, which is not a bad number (Andrew Luck and the Colts had less) but is not in the top ten of the NFL. If you couldn’t imagine a category in which the Packers offense was outside the top ten…red zone offense (TD scoring percentage) is it. Well that is about to change.

Andrew Quarless

While Andrew Quarless has been considered merely adequate by many, I like the way he came on in the Dallas game last year (aside from the false start penalty). With 4 catches for 31 yards and the first TD of the game on a 4 yard pass (red zone) from Aaron Rodgers. Speaking of Aaron Rodgers, the Packers QB has said that Quarless has had the best offseason of his career this offseason. Quarless knows he is fighting for a job and he is working hard to keep it.

Richard Rodgers

Regardless of how hard Quarless works, however, it may be Richard Rodgers who is the future of the TE position for the Packers. Things seemed to click for Rodgers near the end of the season and with a full offseason under his belt, Rodgers is primed to take aim at Quarless’ starting spot come training camp. Rodgers was getting plenty of reps late in the season and will have his sights set on getting more come the end of July.

Last Friday, Vic Ketchman’s “Ask Vic” column had a question by Ben from Plattsmouth, NE asking which second year player (Adams, Rodgers, or Clinton-Dix) would have the biggest impact. While Vic was right that the question is hard to answer, I’m going to try. I think Richard Rodgers could have the biggest impact. While everybody is expecting Davante Adams to make an impact (and I think he will…a BIG one) Rodgers’ development could mean that our red-zone offense doesn’t just get into the top ten but perhaps becomes top five or better. If this happens…Packers fans will certainly be watching an offense that is special. Possibly, record-setting.

Harold Spears

The Packers recently announced the signing of Harold Spears after he was released by the Saints. The former New Hampshire TE is 6’4″ and 248 pounds. With a 4.7 second 40, he is no Vernon Davis, but the Packers have been proving for years that 40 times are less a part of the success equation than most people think. And for perspective, Maxx Williams (the consensus best TE in the draft) ran a 4.78. If Spears develops, he could be a dark horse. It will be a difficult road, starting late and having a veteran and promising second year player in front of him, but Spears may be able to make a way for himself. Oh, and add a 36+ inch vertical jump to that 6’4″ frame, this former b-ball players got ups!

So the red zone offense is probably the area of greatest potential improvement for the Packers in 2015. This is a team that regularly scores from 40 yards out but those red zone opportunities were a sore spot from time to time. Don’t believe me? Just watch the NFC Championship again and take note of the red zone opportunities against the final score.

If the Packers improve at the tight end position, this offense could be one for the ages…

Go Pack!