*(Editor's Note: Over the next two weeks, football analyst Bryan Broaddus will take a closer look at each position, highlighting the standouts and players who need more production. Today, we will focus on the Tight Ends position.) *
Tight Ends Breakdown
Top Performer: Jason Witten
It's no surprise that Jason Witten continues to play at the level at that he has. Despite all the battles that this veteran has seen, there still is that skill when it comes to route running and securing the ball when it is thrown in his direction. What all these seasons in the league has done for Witten, it has allowed him to become crafty of a player. If you ask me who I look forward to visiting with when it comes to the ins and outs of offensive football, Jason Witten would be that guy for me. He has such an outstanding working knowledge of what teams are trying to do to him and how he needs to combat them.
Jason Garrett has told us many times, there is nothing new of Witten having to fight through these defensive schemes that are trying to take him out of the game. Where Witten has been at his best, is when he does get those opportunities to work against single coverage and find that space. What I have liked from these offensive coaches, is the way they are working the ball to Witten in the red zone. I have never thought it was a bad situation to put your best player when it comes to catching the ball in tight spaces in that role because Jason Witten has proven, he can consistently deliver which he has all season.
Need More From: James Hanna
I am being to sound like a broken record when I keep asking for these offensive coaches to get James Hanna more involved in the offense but I just don't believe that will be the case. Like Lance Dunbar, I believe there are things that Hanna can do to help this offense in the passing game but I am talking about more routes up the field, instead of those chances that he just gets in the flat. If Hanna is not going to be used in the passing game, then I need more from him at the point of attack in the running game.
On DeMarco Murray's 35-yard run against the Saints, Hanna had an outstanding kick-out block on Kenny Vacarro that allowed Murray to sneak inside of him as Jason Witten sealed the edge that got Murray to the 2nd level and off to the races. Where Hanna has had his struggles is when he hasn't been as powerful as he needed to be and he gets compressed into the backfield causing the ball to be stopped for no gain or even for a loss. Where this offense needs to take advantage of Hanna is allowing him to block on the move like he did in that Saints game. He is a much better player when he can attack a defense this way because of his athletic ability to stay on his feet and run with his man. Regardless, this offense needs more from James Hanna on the edge.
Six-Game Forecast: [embedded_ad]
These games down the stretch are going to be tough and tight which requires your players to be at their absolute best when it comes to executing plays. The safest route when trying to control or finish games is how you use your tight ends in certain situations.
Despite the fact that we have really only seen Jason Witten as that go to guy, I believe that James Hanna and even Gavin Escobar are going to have to make some tough plays down the stretch. All three of these tight ends have the ability to get down the field and secure the ball when it is thrown in their direction. You use your tight ends, when you want to make simple, easy throws. I do understand that their "11" and "01" personnel groups might be their best packages when it comes to moving the ball but mark my words, there will be a game or two where this "12" personnel group will be the difference in the outcome in the game. There is just too much talent with these tight ends not to fully take advantage of their ability and these final six games will prove that to be the case.