The Arizona Cardinals need tight ends badly. The situation on the roster is rather dire at best.
Rob Housler is the only tight end under contract for 2014. Jake Ballard, Jim Dray, Jeff King and Kory Sperry are all free agents in one fashion or another when March hits. Housler has been inadequate in his three seasons in Arizona with 96 receptions for 1004 yards and one touchdown in that time frame.
Another thing that holds this position back is the mindset of head coach Bruce Arians.
Arians: “Tight ends for me block first, catch second.” #CardsCombine
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) February 21, 2014
Well, that definitely puts a wrinkle on things. It sounds like the next Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski won’t be in Arizona anytime soon. If Arians values blocking over pass-catching the Cardinals aren’t going to have a new dimension on offense in 2014. That’s sad especially when a player like Jimmy Graham is set to potentially hit free agency in a couple weeks. The same can be said about Dennis Pitta.
I don’t understand why the Cardinals have held on to this obsolete thought process about the tight end. We’ve seen players excel from that position by being listed as tight ends but splitting out towards a wide receiver look. It also doesn’t make sense why Arians thinks blocking comes first when he runs formations with two tight ends.
If you have two tight ends on the field and five offensive linemen that makes seven players who have the primary role of blocking. That leaves four players to make plays. One of which is Carson Palmer who is of little threat to take off and run. Even if you slide one of those tight ends back to an H-back position, it still doesn’t matter.
You still are left with a bad situation. Opposing defenses will have 11 defenders to try and stop three players (Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and the running back) and that’s not a good situation. If even one of those tight ends was a receiving threat it would alter how defenses line up against the Cardinals.
Think about how different the offense of the New England Patriots was when they had Gronk and Aaron Hernandez on the field at the same time. An offense like that with multiple options would keep defenses guessing and really open things up. Then remember how the offense ran when Gronk was hurt and Hernandez started rotting in prison. It’s a big difference.
With the way that Arians values tight ends, it’s difficult to figure out who they are targeting in free agency and the draft.
The one thing that’s certain is Arizona will continue to be a desert at the position unless someone has a breakout season.