The Tight End Conundrum

The Giants are almost comically thin at tight end. Let’s review the painful offseason for the position:

  • Kevin Boss signs a 4 year contract with Oakland
  • The Giants sign Ben Patrick. He then retires
  • The Giants sign Daniel Coats, who hasn’t caught a pass since 2009
  • The current starting tight end, Travis Beckum, is an H-Back
  • The backup, Bear Pascoe, played fullback last season
  • Jake Ballard has played eight career snaps
  • I don’t even know who Christian Hopkins is

Losing Kevin Boss is a big blow. He was never elite, but he was solid in all phases, and was a safety net for Eli. Yes, he was always banged up, but he was tough as nails and you could count on him. He was a great in the red zone.

Before we harp on the current state of the tight end position, let’s make one thing very clear: The Giants don’t really use tight ends that much. Boss never had more than 42 catches in a season and never more than 6 touchdowns. I’ve written plenty of times in our game coverage something to the effect of “throw Boss the ball”. The Giants just don’t throw down the seam that often. Boss, to be honest, was used more in the red zone than in the middle of the field. When he did go down the seam, and Eli hit him, it was always a big gain. Gilbride just isn’t a fan of that.

That said, the Giants do not have a traditional tight end on the roster. Beckum is an H-Back.  He’s too small (6-3) to be a tight end, too slow to be a wideout. So he’s an H-Back, a move tight end. What that means is that the offense tries to get him on a linebacker. He’s often in the slot, or in motion. He’s running from a lot of different places. He’s kind of a tight end/fullback hybrid. A few problems: H-Backs often are not great blockers. They’re tweeners. They’re too small to consistently stand up at the point of attack to defensive ends. And they will struggle sometimes with linebackers. Another problem: The Giants don’t really use H-Backs. Not many teams do (the best example of an H-Back is Chris Cooley).

So the Giants are stuck with a tight end who’s not really a tight end. If he’s used properly, Beckum can be very successful. But for him to be used properly, he’s going to have to be split out wide, not lining up at the line of scrimmage.

A way around this is to make Bear Pascoe the tight end. We know he’s a good blocker, and he’s capable in the receiving game. No, he won’t be a gamebreaker, but he’s going to get the job done. Using Pascoe primarily as a blocker will allow the Giants to make use of Beckum’s unique skill set. He certainly has plenty of talent. It’s more of a tight end platoon, than anything. But, it could work.

Another possibility is to trade for John Carlson. The Seahawks just signed Zach Miller for 5 years, so there’s no need for Carlson. He’s 6-5 and can get down the seam. While they don’t need him, the Seahawks might want to use him and Miller in some double tight end packages, or split one out wide. They can get really creative, having two starting tight ends on their roster.

Boss is a big loss. There’s a way around it. You’re not going to replace him skill set, but you could conceivably replace his production. How the Giants handle it will go a long way to determining that. It would be a mistake to place Beckum as a traditional tight end. That’s not who he is. Using Pascoe as a blocker (and putting rookie Henry Hynoski at fullback) is a nice solution.

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5 Responses to “The Tight End Conundrum”

  1. Joe says:

    I am all for them giving Bear the shot.

    Bear came up big a few times last season on the blocking end as a fullback. I think he gives them the best security as a blocker, something I think they need the most out of this abdicated TE position right now. Anything he would be able to do with his hands would be bonus.

    Honestly, the way you compensate for the loss of Boss offensively is solid blocking from a new TE, and a major step up from the receiving corps. This means that someone (Hixon, Manningham, Cruz, Barden, whoever…) needs to step up and become a top tier WR.

  2. Spence says:

    Call me an optimist but I have faith in this team. It’s a well run organization that would have won its division last year if not for a flukey collapse in that Eagles game. 10-6 again this year and it is enough to get into playoffs.

  3. Big Daddy says:

    I think for 1st & 2nd down Jake Ballard will do just fine. For other downs and situational packages Beckum will cause mismatch problems for the defense. No matter what, it all starts with the Oline and if they play the way I think they can we should not have to worry about the TE position. Especially with the WRs now. This is the first time we will have a lot of talent that can go deep and get YAC. Plus we added speed to the equation, something we haven’t had since Homer Jones.

  4. Jeffield1 says:

    Think out of the box and line up Brandon Jacobs at TE. He can block, he can catch… try defending him.

  5. Big Daddy says:

    I like that idea about Jacobs but Jacobs would not do it.

    I would like to see some 2 back sets with Jacobs and Bradshaw and 3 WRs. I think that would confuse a defense and keep them on their heels.

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