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Summer School: Rhett Ellison, Evan Engram, And The Two-Tight End Offense

July 14th, 2017 at 9:15 AM
Aggregated By Giants 101

William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

It shouldn’t be news to anyone who watches the New York Giants that their offense was stagnant and predictable in 2016. They need to improve, and improve a lot, in 2017 if they want to make a run in the playoffs.

In the NFL there are two ways to really get ahead.

The first (and more tried) way is to do something familiar with better players than the other team is able to counter. Taking a familiar scheme and having players that are just too good for their counterparts on the other side of the ball to beat. Essentially, that is what nearly every team tries to accomplish every off-season in free agency and the draft â?? build themselves a decisive advantage in talent.

The other way is to field a team that is built and plays in such a way that the rest of the league just isn’t able to cope with it. That way is much less common. It needs a coaching staff and front office able to get ahead of trends in the game, conceive of a new scheme, find the players to fit in it, and make it all work.

The teams that can do that are rare, and if they can pull it off, can find their way to dominance. Teams are always looking for new ways to win, but few are able to really pull it off.

The Miami Dolphins dethroned the New England Patriots in 2008 with the Wildcat offense, but that was quickly solved by defenses around the league and is now just a gimmick play. Later, teams like the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, and others tried to import the Read/Option offense from the college ranks. It has had some success, the speed and intelligence of NFL defenses, and the punishment they can heap on quarterbacks, makes it unsustainable.

The Seahawks did hit on a new take on defense, their 3-4/4-3 “Hybrid” defense, which helped make them one of the top teams in the NFC and very nearly back-to-back Super Bowl winners.

Their second trip to the Super Bowl ended in a loss to the New England Patriots, who in 2010 unleashed a retooled offense on the NFL â?? an offense that is still dissecting defenses.

After the receiver-based spread offense that powered them to an 18-1 record in 2007 fell apart in the 2009 season, the Patriots drafted a pair of tight ends (Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez) and built their passing attack around them. Always a flexible mind, Bill Belichick saw that tight ends were becoming more and more athletic, and that NFL defenses were either too small or too slow to deal with them.

The pay-off was immediate.

In 2009, Tom Brady threw 28 touchdowns to 13 interceptions (not dissimilar to Eli Manning‘s 26:16 ratio in 2016). A year later, his touchdown to interception ratio rocketed to 38:5 with their re-tooled offense.

Six years later â?? nearly an eternity in the NFL â?? the Patriots are still using the same basic concepts in their offense to great effect.

Last year the Giants used a “standard” three-receiver (or “11″ personnel) package on more than 90 percent of their offensive plays. It may not have been the plan in June, but an injury to Will Johnson robbed them of their anticipated “starting” tight end/H-back. Based on his two years as the Giants’ offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo is a big fan of the “11″ personnel package, but constraints on the available personnel pushed it to the extreme.

The Giants could certainly use an offensive renaissance like the Patriots’ had in 2010, and in signing Rhett Ellison and drafting Evan Engram, that is what they could be eyeing a move in that direction.

Advantages Of The Two-Tight End Package


The “12″ personnel package, or two-tight end set, is exactly what it says it is â?? an offensive formation that features two tight ends. However, the improving athleticism of players at the tight end position makes it much more flexible than it sounds.

While both tight ends can be at the line of scrimmage in a traditional alignment, they can also be moved around the offensive formation.

More than just particularly svelte offensive tackles, modern tight ends can be employed in a variety of ways. From the traditional “Y” position in-line, next to an offensive tackle, to the slot position, to the backfield as a “fullback,” and even flexed out wide as wide receiver.

Those are just a few variations that can be run from one formation (the shotgun) and personnel grouping. Having larger, receiving targets like tight ends allows offenses to create and exploit mismatches, such as matching a tight end on a cornerback or safety in coverage.

NFL offenses can run a variety of plays from any offensive set, but the two-tight end set is more balanced and flexible than most, thanks to the blend of size and athleticism of the modern “hybrid” tight end. This forces the defense to honor the potential for either while also being able to adapt to the defense on the fly.

From a single formation, the Patriots are able to run seven (7) different plays based on match-ups and what the defense shows.

(via Pats Pulpit: Read the whole post HERE)


While Eli Manning posted the second-best completion percentage of his career in 2016, inefficiency was a problem for the offense. Manning’s yards, yards per pass, and touchdown …

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Tags: Aaron Hernandez, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon LaFell, Brandon Marshall, David Carr, Delanie Walker, Eli Manning, Evan Engram, Giants 90-Man Roster: Speed Gets WR Kevin Snead A Chance, Giants’ Brandon Marshall Walks Off Boston Radio Interview, Green Bay Packers, Hakeem Nicks, HERE, Jake Ballard, Jerell Adams, Jordan Reed, Julian Edelman, Kevin Boss, Logan Mankins, Mario Manningham, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Giants, Odell Beckham Jr., Pro Bowl, Rhett Ellison, Rob Gronkowski, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Shane Vereen, Sterling Shepard, Super Bowl, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tom Brady, Top Offensive Playmakers In The NFC East, Vernon Davis, Victor Cruz, Wes Welker, Why the Giants WRs can live up to the hype, Will Johnson

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