View Full Version : The Tight End Zone

10-04-2007, 12:22 AM
The Tight End Zone


It doesnít take a math wiz or a football guru to tell you that points equal wins. Despite a high powered offense which is currently ranked fifth in the NFL in total offensive yards per game (382.5 yard average), the Broncos continue to fail at finding what has so far been, an elusive end zone. Through this four game stretch the Broncos have found themselves in the red zone fourteen times. Only half of those fourteen trips have resulted in touchdowns. Now itís not as bad as it seems. Currently the Broncos are ranked 15th in a 32 team league for red zone production. However when you combine that with a defense that allows teams to get in the red zone and score as regularly as the Broncos defense has, itís a recipe for disaster. Perhaps not disaster, but at least one that leaves the Broncos in the L column more often than the team or fans prefer.

So what happens in the red zone that keeps this team out of the end zone? Admittedly, things do get easier on an opposing defense once youíve marched down the gridiron. The back field shortens up, allowing safeties and corner backs to jump routes and take bigger chances. Press coverage is a more likely option, and zone coverage is more effective in the cramped area that is the red zone. This also allows a D to defend the run with more ease. Itís no excuse though. The good teams find a way to score seven. Itís like when a rookie gets his shot at a starting spot. You take advantage of every opportunity you get, and when points are left on the field, it will often haunt you in the fourth quarter.

With an offense packed with as many weapons as the Broncos have, you would think there would be little problems in putting up seven points. The problem is utilizing those weapons to create the best chances for a touchdown. If itís easier to protect the pass and defend the run in the red zone, what do you do? Stretch the defense.

Enter the tight end. So far the tight end hasnít been a big target for the Broncos. In four games so far, Daniel Graham has caught only eight receptions, totaling 68 yards. Nate Jackson has received only two, and is the only TE with a touchdown to his name. Scheffler, Cutlers top target of 2006, has played only a few snaps due to injury and produced the big nada. They are an element of this team that has long been missed since Shannon Sharp found retirement, and a group of players that provide some of the best mismatches in the NFL. When utilized regularly they force defenses to stretch themselves thin, allowing more red zone opportunities where the field favors the D, and the Broncos have the talent to do just that.

Graham for his part has been prized more for his blocking then his receiving abilities, something he wanted to shed in Denver. The Broncos shifted him to a fullback several times in Indianapolis this last Sunday, and if Henry is out, he may see extended action at this position against San Diego, since Sapp will likely become the #2 HB. In earlier games he was lauded by Shanahan for never missing a block and was used more in this capacity then any other. But Graham is a weapon, especially in the end zone. In New England he currently retains the record for the longest stretch of games to receive at least one touch down. In five consecutive games Graham received a TD in the 2003 season (a record that may be tied this coming week if Randy Moss can get another TD). Teams will fear Graham for his blocking, which should make it easier for him to release off the line and find space down the field and in the end zone. Something the Broncos have yet to take advantage of with much consistency.

Then there is Tony Scheffler. The Chef has been recovering from a foot injury and has just recently been put back into the lineup. While he may still have to shed some rust, he is without a doubt the Broncos top receiving tight end. He has great hands and speed, and last year the Scheffler Cutler connection was a highway to the end zone. His natural abilities make him the biggest mismatch against most opposing defenses. If his blocking has improved, and he is showing few mental mistakes, the Broncos would be foolish not to give him a bigger role and show more two tight end sets, especially if Henry is injured.

This coming week is a perfect time for the Broncos to utilize the talent they have at tight end. San Diegoís big linebackers, built with more power then speed, offer the best mismatches the Broncos tight ends have seen this year. If the Broncos can get them involved, and do so early, they will not only be taking advantage of more targets, but will also force the defense to react and offer Denverís potent wide receiver core more space and opportunities. With that in mind, in week five, I wouldnít be surprised to see the end zone turn into the tight end zone.

10-04-2007, 01:36 AM
Well written, well though out. Great play on words. I enjoyed it.

It makes me wonder just how amenable Graham would be toward just being
the FB. I would love to have that kind of blocking from that positon, and he
would make a great power runner and receiver out of the backfield.

Once Scheffler is healthy and back in football shape, the Broncos will have a
pretty good group with him, Alexander, and Jackson in there. The thought of
having a couple of them and Graham on the field at the same time leaves me
licking my chops, figuratively.

Frrom what (little) I know of Graham, however, he might not care too much
for that prospect.


11-17-2007, 01:33 AM
Wook told me to post something here talking baout my absence so I'll do that now. I've been rather deadly sick these past few weeks despite having to keep up with a busy schedule at times and it sapped me of any opportunity to contribute to the baords. I'll be sure to post soemthing soon.

11-17-2007, 10:42 AM
Wook told me to post something here talking baout my absence so I'll do that now. I've been rather deadly sick these past few weeks despite having to keep up with a busy schedule at times and it sapped me of any opportunity to contribute to the baords. I'll be sure to post soemthing soon. I noticed you had'nt been around in awhile. Hope all is well with ya now BBL ... good to see you.