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Tight Ends On The Rise this Season
In today's NFL, more teams are factoring the tight end into the offense. This season should be no different.
"I've never seen this many tight ends this good at one particular time," says Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe, one of eight tight ends enshrined in Canton. "We've never seen the position this dominant. This is the golden age of tight ends."
The past couple of seasons have seen NFL tight ends performing at a high level and 2014 was no different. Last season, tight ends caught 216 touchdowns, the second-most in a single season for the position (236 in 2013). Tight ends also combined for 2,322 receptions and 25,657 receiving yards, both of which rank fourth in a single season for the position.
NFL Single-Season Tight End Records
Last season, four tight ends -- Antonio Gates (12), Rob Gronkowski (12), Julius Thomas (12) and Jimmy Graham (10) -- caught at least 10 touchdown passes, the most tight ends with 10+ TD catches in a single season in NFL history.
Most Tight Ends With 10+ TDs in Single NFL Season
|Season||Tight Ends With 10+ TDs|
Gates and Gronkowski became the first tight ends in NFL history with 10 or more touchdown receptions in four different seasons, surpassing TONY GONZALEZ, who had three such seasons. Thomas, who also had 12 TD catches in 2013, became the first tight end in NFL history with back-to-back 12-touchdown seasons.
"The importance of the tight end position has increased with the new emphasis on the passing game," says NFL Network analyst and former NFL head coach STEVE MARIUCCI. "You can play them in line and run some regular offense, and also stand them up and split them out in the slot or wide out and play them in a spread-out type offense."
The versatility of today's tight ends causes matchup problems for the defense, which is crucial in the NFL's never-ending chess game between offensive and defensive coordinators.
"This game has always been about matchups," says NFL Network analyst and former NFL head coach BRIAN BILLICK. "You hear coaches say it every week: 'Where are my best matchups?' Well, your best matchup today is likely a tight end against a linebacker or safety. To have talent that can stretch the field like a legitimate receiver but also be a point-of-attack in-line blocker, that's why everyone covets one of those guys."
Last season, Jason Witten (10,502) and Gates (10,014) became the third and fourth tight ends in NFL history to reach 10,000 career receiving yards, joining Gonzalez (15,127) and Sharpe (10,060).
NFL tight ends with 10,000+ career receiving yards
|Tight End||Team(s)||Career Yards|
|* Active (Source: NFL)|
|Tony Gonzalez||Kansas City, Atlanta||15,127|
|Shannon Sharpe||Denver, Baltimore||10,060|
|Antonio Gates*||San Diego||10,014|
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