Tight Ends Situation

Pkrjones

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Roberts is big and slow. Adequate blocker but nothing special. HUGE hands (11-1/2") but not fast, quick or a good route runner. Guessing Gute wanted to see him but expect him to be cut earlier in TC.

My guess is we'll see a good amount of 2-TE sets to allow run/pass flexibility. That would mean a solid blocker on one side & receiving TE on the other. Roster is decently stocked for camp with receiving TE's (Graham, Tonyan, Sternberger) but a little "light" with just Lewis. Gute will bring in another big guy if/when they see Roberts with pads on.
 

Mondio

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Roster limits are at 90. LaFleur's offense is said to love the TE and using them in multiple ways. Why not find the best we can get? I'm still surprised Lewis didn't retire. I'm not banking on him making the roster or even wanting to once the season arrives.
 

Heyjoe4

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It looks like they’ll keep four TEs - Graham, Lewis, Tonyan, and Sternberger. Or maybe they trade Tonyan. Lewis is really the only one who can block, so I expect a lot of two TE sets. Still, four TEs on the 53 is a lot.
 

gopkrs

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It looks like they’ll keep four TEs - Graham, Lewis, Tonyan, and Sternberger. Or maybe they trade Tonyan. Lewis is really the only one who can block, so I expect a lot of two TE sets. Still, four TEs on the 53 is a lot.
Yes, it probably is. But I hope Tonyan does get his chance. Is he really such a bad blocker? I have no idea. If he could block well it could be him and Sternberger next year.
 

captainWIMM

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It looks like they’ll keep four TEs - Graham, Lewis, Tonyan, and Sternberger. Or maybe they trade Tonyan. Lewis is really the only one who can block, so I expect a lot of two TE sets. Still, four TEs on the 53 is a lot.

Hopefully Tonyan shows enough potential to make the roster and have an impact this season. He doesn't offer a whole lot in trade value at this point though.

Yes, it probably is. But I hope Tonyan does get his chance. Is he really such a bad blocker? I have no idea. If he could block well it could be him and Sternberger next year.

Tonyan only blocked on 21 snaps during the regular season in 2018 but was actually decent doing it.
 

Heyjoe4

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Yes, it probably is. But I hope Tonyan does get his chance. Is he really such a bad blocker? I have no idea. If he could block well it could be him and Sternberger next year.
Thanks for the reply. Actually, I don’t know if Tonyan is a good blocker. He certainly showed me something last year as a receiver. Unless he completely tanks, they won’t give up on Sternberger. Keeping 3 or 4 TEs may depend on how well Graham performs in TC and PS games. I’m a little surprised he’s still around. Hopefully last year was a fluke. And my memory is faulty, but I don’t remember them keeping four TEs on the 53. We shall see!
 

captainWIMM

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Unless he completely tanks, they won’t give up on Sternberger.
And my memory is faulty, but I don’t remember them keeping four TEs on the 53.

Sternberger will definitely make the roster.

FYI the Packers kept four tight ends on the 53 last season in Graham, Kendricks, Lewis and Tonyan.
 
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Thanks for the reply. Actually, I don’t know if Tonyan is a good blocker. He certainly showed me something last year as a receiver. Unless he completely tanks, they won’t give up on Sternberger. Keeping 3 or 4 TEs may depend on how well Graham performs in TC and PS games. I’m a little surprised he’s still around. Hopefully last year was a fluke. And my memory is faulty, but I don’t remember them keeping four TEs on the 53. We shall see!
4 TEs is not excessive if a team does not carry a FB. Most teams nowadays use a TE as a blocking back when the situation calls for it, the so-called hybrid back or H-back. Some teams stick with single back in short yardage. Even so, the Packers carried not only the 4 TEs last season, but also Vitale for the last 5 games of the season when he was promoted from the PS along with Kumerow when Daniels and Davis went to IR.

Vitale was primarily a special teams player, taking 81 snaps on ST and 19 on offense.

By way of example, McCarthy used a variety of approaches. Here are 5 short yardage plays examples from the Carolina game in 2017 showing a variety of approaches:

https://www.packers.com/news/what-you-might-ve-missed-short-yardage-success-20014576

Two plays are single back, one has Ripkowski as the up back, and the other two have R. Rodgers and Kendricks as the up backs in a double stack with Cobb throwing some nifty cut blocks.

I don't know LaFleur's short yardage preference--single back, FB or H-back--given available talent, but for what it's worth neither the Titans in 2018 nor the Rams in 2017 or 2018 had a FB snap. This would suggest Vitale is an odd man out.

If LaFleur is inclined to use 2-back sets in short yardage, there may be a problem that secures Vitale a slot--none of the 4 TEs have demonstrated ability at that up back position. It seems like Lewis should be that guy, but if memory serves McCarthy tried him there early last season and then went away from him. Kendricks was probably the best of the bunch in that role.

If anybody has any data on LaFleur's frequency of 2-back sets last season in Tennessee, one of our PFF subscribers perhaps, that might give an indication of where this might lead.

It might or might not be revelatory that after Delanie Walker went to IR after week 1, Tennessee carried 3 TEs, Stocker, Smith and Pruitt, who played 16, 13, and 15 games respectively.

In any event, LaFluer's preferences aside, TEs in general do a lot of things--in-line block and route run, H-back in the two back sets, slot receiver, wideout receiver, special teams. You could have 3 on the field at one time in a seven man front with an H-back in short yardage. You might not have all 4 on the game day roster, but 4 on the 53 man is not necessarily too many.
 
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Heyjoe4

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4 TEs is not excessive if a team does not carry a FB. Most teams nowadays use a TE as a blocking back when the situation calls for it, the so-called hybrid back or H-back. Some teams stick with single back in short yardage. Even so, the Packers carried not only the 4 TEs last season, but also Vitale for the last 5 games of the season when he was promoted from the PS along with Kumerow when Daniels and Davis went to IR.

Vitale was primarily a special teams player, taking 81 snaps on ST and 19 on offense.

By way of example, McCarthy used a variety of approaches. Here are 5 short yardage plays examples from the Carolina game in 2017 showing a variety of approaches:

https://www.packers.com/news/what-you-might-ve-missed-short-yardage-success-20014576

Two plays are single back, one has Ripkowski as the up back, and the other two have R. Rodgers and Kendricks as the up backs in a double stack with Cobb throwing some nifty cut blocks.

I don't know LaFleur's short yardage preference--single back, FB or H-back--given available talent, but for what it's worth neither the Titans in 2018 nor the Rams in 2017 or 2018 had a FB snap. This would suggest Vitale is an odd man out.

If LaFleur is inclined to use 2-back sets in short yardage, there may be a problem that secures Vitale a slot--none of the 4 TEs have demonstrated ability at that up back position. It seems like Lewis should be that guy, but if memory serves McCarthy tried him there early last season and then went away from him. Kendricks was probably the best of the bunch in that role.

If anybody has any data on LaFleur's frequency of 2-back sets last season in Tennessee, one of our PFF subscribers perhaps, that might give an indication of where this might lead.

It might or might not be revelatory that after Delanie Walker went to IR after week 1, Tennessee carried 3 TEs, Stocker, Smith and Pruitt, who played 16, 13, and 15 games respectively.

In any event, LaFluer's preferences aside, TEs in general do a lot of things--in-line block and route run, H-back in the two back sets, slot receiver, wideout receiver, special teams. You could have 3 on the field at one time in a seven man front with an H-back in short yardage. You might not have all 4 on the game day roster, but 4 on the 53 man is not necessarily too many.
Thanks for the thorough reply! Assuming LF runs more, and Tonyan continues to improve, they probably will keep 4 TEs and probably a FB on the roster. And hopefully someone in that TE group steps up and gives the Pack 800 to 900 yards and 8 to 10 TDs. That person should be Graham, so we’ll see if Gluten was correct in keeping him on the roster. I don’t expect the other 3 are capable, or will get enough chances, to put up those kind of numbers.
 

captainWIMM

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captainWIMM

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Thanks for the thorough reply! Assuming LF runs more, and Tonyan continues to improve, they probably will keep 4 TEs and probably a FB on the roster. And hopefully someone in that TE group steps up and gives the Pack 800 to 900 yards and 8 to 10 TDs. That person should be Graham, so we’ll see if Gluten was correct in keeping him on the roster. I don’t expect the other 3 are capable, or will get enough chances, to put up those kind of numbers.

I don't believe the Packers will keep four tight ends and a fullback on the roster this season. In addition it's unrealistic to expect either Graham or another TE to put up the numbers you suggested.
 
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HardRightEdge

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PFF doesn't offer any stats about formations for subscribers not affiliated with a team or working for the media.

Here's a link to a site I found, no idea about their credibility though.

https://www.sharpfootballstats.com/personnel-grouping-frequency.html
I flipped the games to "all" and the position to "FB" just for yucks. If I'm understanding this correctly, the resulting numbers in parentheses would be the number of plays where a FB was used for all teams by formation for all weeks.

If that's the case, these guys counted a grand total of 85 FB snaps across the entire league last season including playoffs, with Dallas accounting for more than half of them. 85 is way too low. Strike 1.

We know Vitale took 19 offensive snaps. I'm pretty sure most if not all were as an up back. Yet these guys show no FB snaps all season for the Packers. Strike 2.

Then there are definitional problems. What does it mean to them when they identify a play as "12 personnel" with 2 TEs? We've had this kind of discussion before. If they're checking jersey numbers in the huddle and position designations on the roster sheet, we have no idea what those TEs are doing--in-line, split, H-back. Strike 3.
 
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HardRightEdge

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I don't believe the Packers will keep four tight ends and a fullback on the roster this season. In addition it's unrealistic to expect either Graham or another TE to put up the numbers you suggested.
On second thought, if you are so inclined, you could check PFF's positional designations for the Tennessee TEs last year. As we've seen in the past, PFF gets very specific by role and positioning in identifying a player's position on any particular play.

It would be interesting to see snap counts for their TEs designated as FB or H-back or anything else that indicates a play set with them in the backfield. Tennessee did have a FB. This might give an indication of LaFleur's usage of two back sets and how much priority he would put on having a good blocking H-back or FB.

I have no idea how much work that involves or your level of interest.
 
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https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/26995813/packers-claim-te-roberts-waivers-lions

One more TE for a position where we have 2 veterans, 1 prospect in waiting and spent 1 draft pick for a talented rookie.

Why? What is happening here?

And Roberts didn't pass physical in NE.

I think they'll go into the season with 4 Tight Ends on the roster.

Should be Graham, Sternberger, Lewis and Tonayn. I'd be pretty surprised if any of them were to be cut. That group has a nice balance of receiving and blocking ability that Lafleur will use nicely.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that if Sternberger gets the chance he'll be the breakout pass catcher of this offense. He is super athletic and is unstoppable after the catch, I really hope Lafleur gets him involved early.
 

captainWIMM

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On second thought, if you are so inclined, you could check PFF's positional designations for the Tennessee TEs last year. As we've seen in the past, PFF gets very specific by role and positioning in identifying a player's position on any particular play.

It would be interesting to see snap counts for their TEs designated as FB or H-back or anything else that indicates a play set with them in the backfield. Tennessee did have a FB. This might give an indication of LaFleur's usage of two back sets and how much priority he would put on having a good blocking H-back or FB.

Here's a list of Tennessee tight ends and their snaps lined up in the backfield last season:

Luke Stocker 158
Jonnu Smith 23
MyCole Pruitt 12
Delanie Walker 2
Anthony Frisker 2

Should be Graham, Sternberger, Lewis and Tonayn. I'd be pretty surprised if any of them were to be cut. That group has a nice balance of receiving and blocking ability that Lafleur will use nicely.

Lewis is the only one of the group who has excelled in blocking in the past but I'm not sure he's still capable of performing at a high level in that area.
 
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Here's a list of Tennessee tight ends and their snaps lined up in the backfield last season:

Luke Stocker 158
Jonnu Smith 23
MyCole Pruitt 12
Delanie Walker 2
Anthony Frisker 2
That's interesting; 197 out of 986 offensive snaps = 20.0% of snaps. That's a lot in today's game.

This may explain why Vitale is on the roster while the Titans did not carry a FB. Or maybe not, as I work my way to the conclusion of this post. As a starting point we can say none of the top 4 TEs on the current Packer roster are a good fit for the lead back role, or at least have not demonstrated that yet. But how much is LaFleur married to those 2-back sets? Consider the following:

It is said that LaFleur likes to use a lot of 2 TE sets. The Tennessee snap counts bear that out. The above 5 guys totaled 1,501 offensive snaps, a 152% snap count, which suggests 2 TEs half the time, less any 3 TE short yardage sets, with something like 40% of the 2 TE sets including an H-back in the backfield. That's a lot of TEs in today's game.

However, what is also interesting is that LaFleur did not transport this heavy TE/2-back approach from the Rams as some kind of McVay clone.

Rams 2017: 1224 TE offensive snaps out of 1039 total offensive snaps = 118% TE offensive snaps
Rams 2018: 1208 TE offensive snaps out of 1100 total offensive snaps = 110% TE offensive snaps
Packers 2018: 1368 TE offensive snaps out of 1075 total offensive snaps = 127% TE offensive snaps

So, by way of comparison, McCarthy's offense last season used 2 TEs more than has been McVay's habit. That may not be too suprising given Graham played primarily slot receiver. On the other hand, LaFleur went with a heavy dose of ground and pound with multiple TEs with a decent dose of throw-deep. We would not put that tag on the Rams offense.

Further, out of all those Tennessee 1501 TE snaps, those 5 guys together saw only 81 targets, so they were not out there as receiving threats. So what gives? Why did LaFleur depart from his recent Rams provenance?

I would suggest that LaFleur simply adapted to the personnel on hand in Tennessee last season. Mariota is not to be confused with an above average starting NFL passer, at least no yet. Dismal Blaine Gabbert had 3 starts. It's kind of weird Gabbert got the start over Mariotta in one game. The top 3 WRs on that team were Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and Tajae Sharp, a bunch of second year guys would would not have struck fear in anybody's heart.

Aaron Rodgers is not Marcus Mariota. DaVante Adams is not Cory Davis. Jimmy Graham, even in decline, is not Luke Stocker as a receiver. How do the rest of the Packers WRs stack up against Taylor and Sharp? Pretty good I'd say.

So why 5 TEs and a FB on the roster, while claiming a 6th. off waivers even if he was intended to be a replacement for McKever?

LaFleur's Tennessee record shows he is not a dogmatic adherent to the McVay approach. Or maybe McVay would not be dogmatic either if the Rams had the offensive talent in Tennessee last season.

In short, given LaFleur's lack of dogmatism, I would make no assumptions about what the Packers offensive personnel mixes will look like this season. I would not assume a lot of 2 TE sets or a lot of 2-back sets with a FB or an H-back. It could look more like the Rams personnel mix. The evidence suggests that in the process of making the lemonade, LaFleur will attempt to minimize the lemons and maximize the sugar wherever he finds it.

Why lots of TEs and a FB currently? I would say it is to leave options open as he sorts out the lemons from the sugar in camp and preseason. The evidence of lack of dogmatism is a point of optimism in my book.
 
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Here's a list of Tennessee tight ends and their snaps lined up in the backfield last season:

Luke Stocker 158
Jonnu Smith 23
MyCole Pruitt 12
Delanie Walker 2
Anthony Frisker 2



Lewis is the only one of the group who has excelled in blocking in the past but I'm not sure he's still capable of performing at a high level in that area.
That's true but Tonyan has made some progress in that area and Lewis should be able to block at a pretty high level for another year or 2. He was way underutilized last year with McCarthy I don't expect that to happen again in 2019.
 

captainWIMM

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So why 5 TEs and a FB on the roster, while claiming a 6th. off waivers even if he was intended to be a replacement for McKever?

The Packers have even listed six tight ends on the roster at this point with Evan Baylis being another one.

That's true but Tonyan has made some progress in that area and Lewis should be able to block at a pretty high level for another year or 2.

The assumption Tonyan has improved as a blocker is based on a very small sample size. While Lewis didn't play a whole lot he didn't excel in that area last season at all.
 
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The Packers have even listed six tight ends on the roster at this point with Evan Baylis being another one.



The assumption Tonyan has improved as a blocker is based on a very small sample size. While Lewis didn't play a whole lot he didn't excel in that area last season at all.
Lewis didn't have a chance to do much of anything last year but he has always been a great blocking tight end. I believe he was graded #1 for blocking tight ends in 2017.

Tonyan isn't a finished product but he has at least shown potential, something to build off of.
 

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