32 receptions. 316 yards. 3 touchdowns.
These are last year’s statistics for the tight end position (excluding J.J. Watt‘s three touchdown receptions).
How bad is this? To put it into perspective, Texans running back Arian Foster, who only played in 13 games, had a receiving stat line of 38/327/5. Let me repeat: the running back that was injured for three games had better receiving numbers than the entire tight end group.
This absolute flop in production came only a few months after releasing long time starter Owen Daniels and drafting C.J. Fiedorowicz in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft. And instead of addressing the position in this year’s draft or in free agency, the Houston Texans opted to stick with the same set of TE’s (although they did at 2 undrafted free agents at the position).
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So why would Texans fans expect any change in production?
Well for one, the young TE set that the Texans have will have matured a bit. Last year, head coach Bill O’Brien came in with a new offensive scheme. Learning a new scheme can take time for any veteran, so the group will have had the bonus of having a year in O’Brien’s system and have a better understanding of what he wants.
Another reason the tight end group should improve in production will coincide with Andre Johnson‘s departure from the team. AJ had led the Houston Texans in receptions (85) and targets (147) last season. Now most of those targets will go to other receivers, but some of it should go to the TE’s, giving them not only more yards, but more chances to create touchdowns in the red zone.
Last but not least, the Texans’ tight end group should see a noticeable increase in production due to simple statistics. In an article I wrote back in March, I broke down why the Houston tight ends had such a poor statistical season, headlined by the fact that the Texans had the second lowest percentage of targets to TE’s in the NFL, at 10.5%. This shows that the tight ends may not have a lack of talent, but a lack of targets to feed the receiving group.
The fact still remains that even if the percentage of targets thrown to tight ends was doubled to around 20%, the three starters would still have combined for only 60 or so catches. For any one tight end to put up big numbers, at least one is going to have to take more snaps and develop as a consistent starter.
So what do you guys think? Will the Houston Texans’ tight end set improve this year? Vote in the poll and tell us why in the comments!