Jim Mancari, ContributorIt’s actually true: The Giants have three tight ends on their roster, and even four if you include Bear Pascoe (though we’ll consider him mostly a fullback).
Sometimes we forget though that the Giants have these tight ends, because rarely do we see the position utilized in the offensive pass game.
We were spoiled the past few seasons with the production from former tight ends Jeremy Shockey, Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard and Martellus Bennett.
That trend was supposed to continue this year after the Giants signed Brandon Myers, who led the Oakland Raiders in receptions last season. But Myers has had much trouble learning the offense.
“It’s taken him some time to learn this offense since he (Myers) just showed up here,” said tight end coach Michael Pope. “I think we’re the fifth offense he’s had all the way back to college, because when Carson Palmer went out to Oakland, they kind of adapted what he had done in Cincinnati. It’s taken him a little bit of time to unlearn offenses he’s been in and we have a lot of option route running in our offense, and that’s something that just takes a number of reps.”
Unfortunately, the play that has defined Myers’ time with the Giants was the ball that tipped off his hands and right into the arms of Tim Jennings as Big Blue was driving downfield late against the Chicago Bears.
Granted, the pass may have been a bit high from Eli Manning, but I’ve said it before, an NFL tight end somehow comes down with that ball.
But let’s not totally harp on that one play. Pope brought up an intriguing point that although Myers has not been consistently catching passes, he’s been doing his job in protecting the quarterback.
“Our number one goal is always to protect the quarterback,” Pope said. “Because of the trend around the league, there’s so much more blitzing now than there ever has been. When that occurs, where do you get your blockers when you have three wide receivers in the game? You have a tight end, and you have a back. If you don’t involve those guys in the protection, then your quarterback is going to get hit.”
Myers has been an effective run blocker as well. Again, maybe we have been spoiled with Shockey, Boss, Ballard and Bennett, but Myers has not been as bad as it seems.
“When you look at it from a statistical standpoint, he (Myers) doesn’t have the big pass game production, but when the players that these guys are responsible for are not active in the tackling aspect of the run game or the pass rush, then you have to say they’re making some progress, and you can feel positive about that,” Pope said.
I actually lied in the introduction to this post. The Giants really only have two active tight ends on the roster, since Adrien Robinson – the so-called JPP of the offense – has been inactive for all eight games.
Robinson injured his left foot in the final preseason game, and he just hasn’t been able to work his way back. He apparently though will be back at practice next week and ready to play after the bye. But missing all this time has certainly stunted his development.
“When players of this kind miss practice, you don’t learn to pilot the space shuttle in a flight simulator,” Pope said. “That’s the thing he hasn’t had the chance to do, actually get in the activity, in the game situations. It seems just when he’s ready to make a move and we have plans to get him in the game, he’s unfortunately been hit with an injury. Hopefully he’ll contribute in the second half here, but being on the sideline has not replaced his game experience.”
And then there’s Larry Donnell. He’s a huge target, but so far his Giants’ career has been clouded by two mistakes: slipping on a third-down play in the red zone against the Vikings and stepping out of the endzone against the Eagles.
“I’m sure when he came here from Grambling, they had the back line of endzones, so I don’t think that’s the first time he ever saw one,” Pope said. “Just in the anxiety that comes from coming from a smaller program to this league, and being able to handle that and to produce, that only comes from playtime.”
Pope hopes that once he gets Robinson back healthy and Donnell continues to mature, he’ll be able to use these weapons in jump-ball situations in the endzone.
Let’s be honest: With the potential of the Giants’ receiving corps, the tight end position really should not have to factor too much into the passing game. But given the inconsistencies from players like Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle, that has led to more attention on the lack of receptions from tight ends.
I’ve been eagerly waiting to see what the JPP of the offense can do. But I also agree with Pope that Myers has actually played better than the statistics show.
Up next: Running Backs