Tag:Jermichael Finley
Posted on: August 13, 2010 10:17 am
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Hot Routes 8.13.10: Of Preseason & Port-a-Potties

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  • Dan Connolly, who filled in -- and will fill in if necessary -- for the still-holding-out Logan Mankins last night, "held his own" according to Ian Rappaport of the Boston Herald . We haven't watched the game yet, because we're too busy swooning over Jimmy Clausen, but this is right in line with what we told Lauren Shehadi about the possibility of the Pats' doing a little "plug-n-play" on the offensive line.
  • Speaking of Clausen, Pat Yasinskas (former Panthers beat writer; now with the NFC South blog at ESPN) thinks that the rook QB "landed some jabs, but nothing close to a knockout punch" in his attempt to go after Matt Moore's job. I've got to agree -- the kid looked really sharp at times, but anyone freaking out over the first preseason game needs to settle down. It's going to take a nightmarish, Jake Delhomme-like start from Moore to force Clausen into a starting role.
  • Optimism reigns supreme at the Baltimore Sun 's Ravens Insider, where everyone seems thrilled at the offense's potent potability (or something). Ken Murray seems the most realistic of the group, though, making sure to point out that against the Panthers, the Ravens ridiculously depleted secondary didn't exactly have a big challenge. Not saying the 2010 AFC North Champions (they lose to the Jets in the AFC Championship, duh) are overrated, but just saying.
  • Jermichael Finley, who Andy is quite high on (more on that with an NFC North podcast coming this afternoon), uses boxing to become a better football player because it helps improve his hand and eye coordination. Until coach Mike McCarthy pointed out that hurting his hands and wrists isn't the best way to get paid as a tight end in the NFL. Smart call.
  • Lovie Smith says the Bears' starters could end up playing a full half against the Chargers. For those of you who (like me) are Dan LeFevour fans, won't you join me: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" /shakes fist angrily to sky
  • Jerry McDonald of Inside Bay Area writes that the D-line "stole the show" for the Raiders last night. And here I was thinking Kyle Boller would get all the attention this morning. McDonald actually makes a good point about Boller too -- the 'Boys dropped an easy red zone interception, and we're not singing his praises this morning if they make the pick happen.

Posted on: July 15, 2010 12:26 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2010 3:29 pm
 

Position rankings: tight ends

A. Gates makes a TD catch against Cincinnati last year (Getty). Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit resume their debate, with today’s focus on tight ends.

Josh Katzowitz's top five

5. Vernon Davis, 49ers

4. Dallas Clark, Colts

3. Jason Witten, Cowboys

2. Antonio Gates, Chargers

1. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons

To pick a top-five list of tight ends, you can go the easy route or you can get it right. It’d be easy to sit back, click on last year’s receiving stats and pick the tight ends who had the most catches and/or touchdowns. But it’s not just about pass-catching ability. You also have to block the defensive end, linebacker or blitzing safety. Duality is important. You can make a lot of money catching passes as a TE, but that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily top-five in my eyes.

Gonzalez isn’t only top-five currently; he’s top-five all time. Heck, he might be No. 1 all-time, and even though he’s 34, he’s found new life with the Falcons. He’s been catching and blocking well since 1997.

Gates has grown into his TE role. He’s 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds – who can defend him? Not a linebacker – he’s too fast for him. Not a safety – he’s too big for him. Who then? Defenders have to hope that maybe the plantar fasciitis from which Gates is suffering will slow him.

I really like Witten. He blocks well in the run game, he catches a higher percentage of the passes that are thrown to him than just about any other tight end and he’s made the Pro Bowl six years running.  Dallas Clark had 100 receptions last year. That’s just impressive. Vernon Davis has great blocking skills to go with his ’09 78-catch, 13-touchdown season. The No. 5 spot was between him and Kellen Winslow, but ultimately, I like Davis’ consistency just a little more.

Andy Benoit's top five

5. Dallas Clark, Colts

4. Owen Daniels, Texans

3. Vernon Davis, 49ers

2. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons

1. Antonio Gates, Chargers


Tight end is one of the most difficult positions to rank. We’re basically in agreement on Gates and Gonzalez. Gates might be the greatest mismatch exploiter in the NFL. And you’re right about Gonzalez’s blocking. Vernon Davis is a monster athlete. He’s not the most natural all-around receiver – changing direction as a route runner and tracking off-target passes can challenge him at times – but he is far and away the best seams weapon in the sport. Mike Singletary has called Davis the best blocking tight end he’s seen. That’s a little hyperbolized, but only a little.

Most people will think I’m a joke for leaving Witten off. To be honest, I feel like a joke. But Clark is a lynchpin in arguably the best offense in football, and I can’t have a top five list without Daniels. He has become the best pass-catching tight end in football. Privately, I’ve heard a few well-known, universally-respected NFL analysts say he is THE best tight end – period. He is coming off major knee surgery, though.

I’m going to give you a prediction: by this time next year, every intelligent football observer will have Packers tight end Jermichael Finley No. 1 on their list. Finley is Gates with more size and athleticism.

Josh’s rebuttal

So, you’ll see my Bobbie Williams, my Jon Stinchcomb and my Manny Lawson, and you’ll raise me a Jason Witten. A bold move, my friend. Obviously, I don’t agree with you excluding Witten – at the very, very least, I’d pick him over Clark – but I don’t think you’re a joke. Maybe a pun that isn’t very funny, but not a joke. Honestly, I think Daniels is a sturdy pass-catcher, but his blocking is too much of a factor (or a non-factor) for me to consider him a top-five guy.

Andy’s final word

I’m fine with criticism of Daniels’s blocking, but in Houston’s system, it really doesn’t matter. Since we’re on the topic, I’ll take this opportunity to give props to Broncos veteran Daniel Graham, who is far and away the best blocking tight end in the NFL. And Kellen Winslow, who Josh mentioned earlier, is the league’s best route-running tight end.

To anyone out there who feels the urge to say “Hey! What about Brent Celek?!” or “Hey! Aren’t you forgetting Visanthe Shiancoe!?”, save it. Both players are classic examples of guys who benefit from having stars around them. Celek gets to operate against linebackers on just about every snap, and Shiancoe is primarily Brett Favre’s dumpoff option.

I’ve also noticed that Steeler fans are particularly sensitive about Heath Miller. Yes, Miller has soft hands and he’s incredibly sound fundamentally, but he’s also the fourth option in Pittsburgh’s offense. Just to finish things off, don’t try to sell Chris Cooley, either. Josh and I both put a better version of Cooley on our list, called Dallas Clark.

--Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com