In 2014, the Houston Texans showed a lot of progress, going from a 2-14 record in 2013 to posting a solid 9-7 season under first-year head coach Bill O’Brien. The defense really stepped up, and the offense showed much more potency than the year before.
Unfortunately, one thing that did not improve was the production from the Texans’ tight ends. In fact, the statistics were significantly worse.
Before the inaugural season of the Bill O’Brien era, the Texans announced the release of fan-favorite tight end Owen Daniels. Daniels had been the starter for the past seven years, but was released to create salary cap space. Daniels would go on to follow former head coach Gary Kubiak to the Baltimore Ravens.
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With the departure of Daniels, Houston was left with fifth year player Garrett Graham and second year player Ryan Griffin. The Texans would also add C.J. Fiedorowicz with the first pick in the 3rd round, and was predicted to play a major role in the passing game.
There was only one problem: Not one of these three tight ends had a significant effect in passing situations for the Texans. The Texans trio would combine for 32 receptions, 316 yards, and 3 touchdowns.
Many fans see this as an indication that the Houston Texans must either add another tight end in free agency or select one during the 2015 NFL Draft. At first glance, this would make sense. The statistics, if shaped into one tight end, would have been tied for 23rd in receptions and 27th in receiving yards.
The one statistic most people ignore, though, is the targets these tight ends received. In 2014, Texans quarterbacks targeted a tight end 51 total times on 485 pass attempts. This means that Houston tight ends were targeted on only 10.5% of pass attempts.
To put this into perspective, only one team targeted their tight ends less than the Texans in terms of percentage: the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta tight ends were targeted on only 8.86% of pass attempts. In comparison, the New England Patriots, who had much better production out of Rob Gronkowski, targeted a tight end on 27.6% of attempted passes.
So should the Houston Texans be panicking about the tight end situation? In my opinion, no. The current stable of tight ends should be given at least another year. In the first year of O’Brien’s system, tight ends weren’t used nearly as much as they could have been, and I expect the stats posted by the tight ends to increase significantly this season.
What do you think? Vote in the poll and share your opinions in the comments below!