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Camp storylines: No. 7 Tight ends

With Redskins training camp opening Thursday afternoon, this
week on Redskins Insider we'll count down the most pressing issues the
team faces as players prepare to report.

How will the Redskins involve both Chris Cooley and Fred Davis
in the offense?

Chris Cooley was as dependable as any Redskin player before he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 7 last season. In his place, though, second-year Fred Davis proved to be a strong target, catching six touchdown passes in the team's final 10 games. But the Redskins will have to figure out how to get two effective pass-catching tight ends involved in their revamped offense.

Two tight end sets aren't uncommon in the NFL, but typically, when teams employ them, one tight end is used primarily as a blocker and the other runs routes. The Redskins have two strong pass catchers in Cooley and Davis, and both players are hungry (and healthy enough) to resume his respective role as a playmaker.

Prediction: One of Mike Shanahan's best attributes as a head coach is that he's consistently adapted to his personnel, and it's a safe guess that he doesn't view two good pass-catching tight ends as a burden. In fact, look for him and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to use their tight ends in ways that no teams have even attempted before.

There's a couple of reasons to anticipate this. First, most teams don't carry a pair of tight ends with such similar skill sets. But perhaps more pertinent is the Redskins' lack of depth at the wide receiver position. With only Santana Moss as a consistent, proven
threat, the offense will likely rely more on tight ends coming off play-action or bootlegs than it has in years past. Plus, quarterback Donovan McNabb has had great success targeting tight ends in the past, and for whatever criticisms he takes for his accuracy, McNabb has never struggled to find an open tight end.

By Rick Maese  |  July 27, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Chris Cooley , Fred Davis , training camp  | Tags: Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, tight ends  
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Next: Jason Campbell: 'I just want to enjoy my career again'

Comments

FIRST to say I like our tight ends - and I'm STRAIGHT! (not that there's anything wrong w/ being otherwise...)

Posted by: hogmeister | July 27, 2010 6:45 AM | Report abuse

FIRST to say I like our tight ends...and I'm STRAIGHT! (not that there'd be anything wrong w/ being otherwise...)

Posted by: hogmeister | July 27, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

Both tight ends will take turns being on the receiving end of balls.

Posted by: iH8dallas | July 27, 2010 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Wow people...the only way Cooley AND Davis get over 60 catches is if we get ZERO production from our WRs. It looks good on paper, but it's an epic fail for the Redskins if they have to check down to TEs that regularly.

Seems to me like having your safety leading the team in tackles...on the one hand, you're glad to have such a steady tackler in your defensive backfield. On the other hand, you hate that so many ball carriers are consistently getting past the first and second levels.

Here's hoping we have Davis and Cooley closer to 50 catches and that we have a WR step up and catch another 50-60 balls.

Posted by: brownwood26 | July 27, 2010 7:14 AM | Report abuse

"In fact, look for him and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to use their tight ends in ways that no teams have even attempted before."

Somebody fire the editor:

unclear
"...look for him and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to use their tight ends..."


Perhaps this should read:

clear
"...look for the redskin offensive coaching staff to use the team's starting tight ends in creative and innovative ways..."

Now, that's much better.

Posted by: MistaMoe | July 27, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Saw the VT/Nebraska game on ESPNU, and the game winning catch was a bomb to the TE set out in the wide slot...If you buy a Dr. Memento at the Havana torist shop, do you pay with your AK-47?? No, 'cuz they're all bold as love, just ask Jimi's Kaliedescope Neon Camo Tourguide..

Posted by: frak | July 27, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

And I forgot: two tight ends take away a key for a defense designed around weak-side blitzing.

In the running game, the 'stretch' or zone read play can be run to either side--again taking away a defensive key.

A 'flexed' tight end with speed forces a safety or third corner to cover a bigger player in space.

An h-back type like C Cooley can be placed any and everywhere to take advantage of possible matchups.

Finally, a smart thing would be using the tight ends in 'bunch' or 'stacked' formations that shield S Moss, and allow him to break free of press coverage on passing plays.

Posted by: MistaMoe | July 27, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Moe, I'm pretty sure nobody bothers to edit the material posted on a blog. If they did, I doubt LaCanfora ever earns the nickname "Jasno".

I like your thinking on the two TE sets, but I think it bears pointing out that blocking isn't exactly the forte of either Davis or Cooley. If they can step up their games in that regard, I'd feel a lot better about the prospects of running stretchs and counters.

Posted by: brownwood26 | July 27, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Wow people...the only way Cooley AND Davis get over 60 catches is if we get ZERO production from our WRs. It looks good on paper, but it's an epic fail for the Redskins if they have to check down to TEs that regularly.

Seems to me like having your safety leading the team in tackles...on the one hand, you're glad to have such a steady tackler in your defensive backfield. On the other hand, you hate that so many ball carriers are consistently getting past the first and second levels.

Here's hoping we have Davis and Cooley closer to 50 catches and that we have a WR step up and catch another 50-60 balls.

Posted by: brownwood26

Agreed. Also add in the fact that McNabb is a better deep ball thrower than he is with the short stuff. If he is hitting the underneath guys that much it means the offense is sputtering. He is not the type of QB that is going to nickel and dime it down the field.

Posted by: srobert1117 | July 27, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

brownwood

"If they can step up their games in that regard (blocking), I'd feel a lot better about the prospects of running stretchs and counters."


Shannon Sharpe, Tony Scheffler, and Owen Daniels are all tight ends in the mold of Cooley and Davis.

And in Denver--more so than Texas, of course--running the ball wasn't and isn't much of a problem.

The 'stretch' really requires backside cut blocking and a back who makes a quick read and goes--so holding on to a block for a long time is not as a big deal as it is on other types of running plays.

I'd say the skins feature a lot of 'lead' and 'sprint draw,' and not so much counter action in the running game this year.

In any event, Cooley and Davis are what we have.

And we'll make the best use of them.

Posted by: MistaMoe | July 27, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Bring back Todd Yoder.

That is all.

Posted by: Original_etrod | July 27, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

"He is not the type of QB that is going to nickel and dime it down the field"

How many catch's did Westbrook average while #5 was his qb?? DMac is gonna take what the defense gives...

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | July 27, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse


MistaMoe = Editor

Posted by: hessone | July 27, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Moe, I get what you're saying about Sharpe and Daniels and Scheffler...but typically the backups to those guys were blocking TEs. I don't have an issue with having a "catch-first TE" (for lack of a better term), I just have issue with having two guys with the same skill set on the field at the same time. If one (or both) can be balanced, it works but if both are glorified WRs, then it can be problematic.

Not trying to be a downer, just showing the other side of the coin....

Posted by: brownwood26 | July 27, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

O_e, not sure if you meant that as a joke, but I'd sure love to see him back. He'd make a fine 3rd TE...plays special teams, good blocker and makes the occasional goal line catch. We could do a lot worse than Yoder...

Posted by: brownwood26 | July 27, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse


We could do a lot worse than Yoder...

Agree here - Yoder on special teams and he's an excellent blockeing TE. He's an ace in the hole at the goal line. You have to have a good blocking TE, and Yoder gives us that element. Besides, who else would fit that bill that's available?

Posted by: hessone | July 27, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

beantowngreg

"He is not the type of QB that is going to nickel and dime it down the field"


I think we'll see a lot of passes made in the center of the defensive backfield in an attempt to force safety play to come upfield to help tackle pass catching tight ends and running backs.

Thing is, do we have the kind of wide receivers who can exploit one-on-one coverage deep should that strategy work?

That's the real question.

Posted by: MistaMoe | July 27, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

hess, I think the coaches are going to give Dennis Morris the chance to be the blocking TE/backup FB. If he can be the jack-of-all-trades that Yoder and Sellers have been, he's a much younger and cheaper option.

This staff hasn't had experience with Yoder, but I'd still have him on speed dial if Morris is slow to develop...

Posted by: brownwood26 | July 27, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse


@brownwood26

What's the skinny on Morris? Younger and cheaper at this point in a rebuild is music to the ears.

Posted by: hessone | July 27, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

"He is not the type of QB that is going to nickel and dime it down the field"

How many catch's did Westbrook average while #5 was his qb?? DMac is gonna take what the defense gives...

Posted by: BeantownGreg1

With a career 59% completion percentage he is not going to be nickel and dime it down the field.

When McNabb had a good season the Eagles were almost always in the top 5 avg yards per play.


Posted by: srobert1117 | July 27, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I voted for CC47 @ +60 catches. Now I think that our TE's will probably combine fro between 100-110 catches this year, but I see Chris getting a lot of them. That said I could easily see FD86 grabbing 40+

Posted by: alex35332 | July 27, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

No need for Yoder. The Skins can easily move Sellers to TE if they had to. Plus they have Paulsen whose blocking skills are so good that some project that he could move to tackle if he bulks up. The TE position is set for this team.

Posted by: TWISI | July 27, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

hess, the book on Morris is he's a FB/TE hybrid that is a good blocker and solid receiver. In four years at Louisiana Tech, he caught 70 passes for 1,144 yards and 16 touchdowns. Good size at 6'2", 265 pounds...think Mike Sellers lite.

Posted by: brownwood26 | July 27, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse


"He is not the type of QB that is going to nickel and dime it down the field"

Would you call screen passes nickle and diming it down the field?

Posted by: hessone | July 27, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I can't tell you how much I hate that the Giants got Keith Bulluck. That might be one of the most underrated moves of the offseason...

Posted by: brownwood26 | July 27, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

"Alabama coach Nick Saban compares sports agents to pimps."

So what does that make Lane Kiffin, Bobby Petrino, Pete Carroll, and Rich Rodriguez?

Ooooppppppsss....wrong blog!

Posted by: MistaMoe | July 27, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

brown, he's older, and coming off an ACL isn't he?? get him matched up in coverage on one of our TE's, and lets see how that ACL is coming along....

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | July 27, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

"With a career 59% completion percentage he is not going to be nickel and dime it down the field. When McNabb had a good season the Eagles were almost always in the top 5 avg yards per play."

Before the emergence of DeSean Jackson, that's exactly what they did, with screens and dumpoffs to Westbrook in place of running plays and heavy usage of their TEs. Their WRs weren't the focus of their passing game because they were never that good, and couldn't onsistently and effectively stretch the field. They were in the top 5 in yards per play because they threw the ball more than most teams, not because McNabb was chucking it downfield on a regular basis.

Posted by: rufus_t_firefly | July 27, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Greg, hope you're right...if Bullock is anywhere near the player he was in Tennessee, that Giants D might be back. If we still ran a 4-3, I would have liked to see the Skins make a run at him.

Posted by: brownwood26 | July 27, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

"He is not the type of QB that is going to nickel and dime it down the field"

Would you call screen passes nickle and diming it down the field?

Posted by: hessone

Needs big plays. Well executed screen plays will pick up big yards. He is not the type of QB that is going to slowly and methodically pick apart the defense.

He throws a great deep ball. Teams always had to respect that which is why westbrook and the screens were so effective.

McNabb makes explosive plays. He will keep the play alive with his feet and hit someone down field. He will not sit in the pocket picking a defense apart for 5-10 yard completions. The team is going to need to have deep threats on the outside that will require safety help. If they don't and the offense revolves around running the ball and the two TEs it will be a long year.

Posted by: srobert1117 | July 27, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

McNabb pre-TO basically hit Todd Pinkston 1 or 2 times a game for a 20 + yard pass and then that was it for deep plays. Last year their TE gained 1000 + yards. It will be fun to see what he does with 2 top TE's

Posted by: alex35332 | July 27, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

beeps

Posted by: frediefritz | July 27, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Since Davis has more pure speed he could be used at fullback in passing situations forcing him to be covered by a linebacker who would almost certainly be slower than he is. Giving Cooley the extra 5 yards starting from the line allows him more time to get downfield and into his route. Both guys clearly are capable of making plays. Davis has the potential to be better than Cooley but potential gets coaches fired. He is far too talented to not be on the field. Cooley is a proven commodity--you know what you're going to get. Both guys are tough to tackle so I'm looking forward to seeing how the Shans use them.

Posted by: largetony86 | July 27, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Big plays are a key part of what was missing from the offense last season. If I remember correctly, somewhere in the neighborhood of two percent of the plays account for about 20% of an NFL team's total yards over the course of a season. For whatever reason, the Skins had trouble connecting on deep throws or getting long gains from throws underneath the coverage. I imagine that's a major priority for Shanahan going into this season.

Posted by: Samson151 | July 27, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Agreed. Also add in the fact that McNabb is a better deep ball thrower than he is with the short stuff. If he is hitting the underneath guys that much it means the offense is sputtering. He is not the type of QB that is going to nickel and dime it down the field.

Posted by: srobert1117


ummm. What?! McNabb is AWESOME at hitting open Tight Ends and running backs. The Eagles were one of the best screen teams in the last decade....what are you even talking about.

Posted by: BigRich1 | July 27, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Trade one of the guys it's not fair to them.
Especially when we don't know how the line going to be.

Posted by: SOLVBACK | July 27, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Trade one of the guys it's not fair to them.
Especially when we don't know how the line going to be.

Posted by: SOLVBACK | July 27, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

This is non-question....at least until Fred Davis's contract needs renewed. ;)

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | July 27, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Chris Cooley and Fred Davis each catch more than 60 TOUCHDOWN passes.

Skins average at least 52 points per game on their production alone.

Posted by: freakzilla | July 27, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully the tight ends have great hands because you don't want balls hitting them in the face!

Posted by: sirmixx01 | July 27, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Both tight ends will take turns being on the receiving end of balls.

Posted by: iH8dallas | July 27, 2010 7:11 AM


That was mad funny son...

Posted by: kahlua87 | July 27, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Play both, spilt one wide or in the slot, and one on the line. Both are better than Kelly or Thomas...

Posted by: jnbergquist | July 27, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Play both, split one wide or in the slot, and one on the line. Both are better than Kelly or Thomas...

Posted by: jnbergquist | July 27, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

"First, most teams don't carry a pair of tight ends with such similar skill sets. "

Most teams didn't have Vinny Cerrato "always taking the highest rated guys."

Posted by: Pepper5 | July 28, 2010 12:18 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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