Cuffed. Cut. Court. Such is the “to-do” list for former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Facing charges of murder and firearm, Hernandez may never play in the NFL again. A teammate, friend, and father has let the world down.
Now, a long-term issue comes into focus. The Patriots, renowned for their revolutionary tight end play, face a whirlwind of uncertainty. Top tight end Rob Gronkowski has undergone multiple surgeries this offseason, and may not be ready for week one. New England currently holds five other tight ends, including Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells, and Michael Hoomanawanui. The Patriots have gone from tight end supremacy to a barren wasteland at the position.
With the Patriots floundering to piece together adequacy at the position, opportunity knocks. Philadelphia has a chance to lay claim to dominance at tight end. With veteran warrior Brent Celek healthy and refreshed after a brutal season physically, new possibilities wait. Newcomer James Casey epitomizes versatility, and would complement Celek nicely. Also poised for success, rookie Zach Ertz will become a vertical threat at the position, bringing athleticism to the group.
The Patriots of old presented looks of two tight ends as a majority of their offense. The Eagles could increase that threat to three, while leaving weapons such as DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy in the game. Opposing linebackers would be forced to cover the three athletic tight ends. Even is they miraculously do so, McCoy and Jackson would be left with favorable matchups. The result? A bevy of big plays for Chip Kelly’s offense.
The trio of Celek, Casey, and Ertz could become a staple of Eagles football. At the same tome, the three would revolutionize the tight end position with athleticism, speed, and size. None of the three will make the Pro Bowl, with number and playing time being near identical. However, the three will mo doubt pose a threat to e every defense in the NFL.
Cip Kelly famously collaborated with Bill Belichik during his time in Oregon to mold the Pats offense. Now, Kelly has a chance to make this offense his own. By remaking the position, Philadelphia could
find their fuel to ignite a march back into the NFL playoffs. At the same time, it gives the tight ends a stranglehold on the NFL spotlight.