New England Patriots Tight Ends - the position grouping to watch?

via cachemediasrv.patriots.com

Y'all know by now Wes Welker is my favorite Patriot.  I know, it's a little obsessive and bordering on a restraining order.  I haven't snuck into the locker room and stolen an #83 jerseys, but it could happen.  At least I'm not alone; SlotMachinePlayer has confessed an undying devotion to the "Little One" as well.  Moving on...

As much as I appreciate Wes and his towering counterpart, Randy Moss, there's nothing like a guy with the body of an MMA heavyweight pulling down passes from Wonderboy, Tom Brady.  Yes, I'm talking about Tight Ends.  As you've heard from Marima's training camp updates, tight ends are in focus and in a big way.  Part of this could be the lack of a fullback to take over blocking duties; Patsfan4life has brought this up on a number of occasions and I think it's a good point.

I also believe there's a "reception" component to this.  That is, 2007 and 2008 were the "shutdown the Patriots receivers" years.  You will notice this by looking at 2007 receiver production in the first half of the year compared to the second half.  It's become so prevalent to shutdown Moss and Welker that we have to do something.  Yes, part of the answer is providing more threats at wide receiver; Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis will certainly make people think.  But what about those times when you need an overgrown Welker?  A dude who can move a building five feet to the right?  Tight ends.

For the last few years, we've been thin at receiving tight ends.  Sure, blocking TE's like David Thomas and Ben Watson are a VERY necessary part of the game.  They combine strength and agility, perfect as lead blockers for the running game.  But what about YAC when Wes isn't the answer?  What about those times when you need Ahnald with hands?  That's when guys like Chris Baker step up to the plate.  Baker had a sold 2007, but his production dropped in 2008 simply because they weren't throwing to him.  I want all that to change.  I want Baker pulling down passes and bowling over those tiny, ant-like DB's.  Let's use these guys for what TE's are meant for.  C'mon Bill!!

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