Tight Ends Need Loose Start for Buffalo Bills

Photo of TE Ernie Warlick from remembertheafl.com.

Good Buffalo Bills tight ends might not have enough answers to fill a Jeopardy! category.  It’s easy to list off everyone who’s impressed at the position since 1960.  You could get them all tattooed without it hurting much.  This team has been aching without noticeable production.

In Jay Riemersma’s name, please improve. Getting better than last season isn’t much of a challenge. When a position’s woeful compared to the rest of this offense, you know there’s trouble.  Tight ends in 2018 were even worse than the other Ben Affleck movies.

A club that finally spent a single-digit draft pick on a quarterback is just catching up.  The Bills are traditional, if you’d like to think of a nice way to describe missing futuristic developments.  Other franchises watch on tablets as the Bills put more foil on rabbit ears hoping to catch a relatively static-free episode of The Love Boat.  I hope Charo is on this week.

In an era when almost every club seems capable of looking sharp, the Bills hope to button their own shirts.  The numbers stagger, at least outside Erie County.  This past season featured top tight ends Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce each catching over 100 passes.  Is that even allowed?  Someone check the rulebook.

The Bills were in no danger of pushing boundaries.  By contrast, their own players in the category caught a total of 56 of them, which would’ve been tied for eighth if they were one player. They can claim they were too busy blocking, but I’d check the tape.

Photo of TE Jason Croom from 247sports.com.

Does the offensive coordinator know?  The Bills were led at the position by a player who had a super total for a month over the whole of 2018.  Jason Croom was the top Bills tight end with 22 catches.  The former Volunteer went undrafted, which makes his achievement a good story.  But a heartwarmingly inspirational situation doesn’t necessarily translate to high production.

Croom will be lonely in the Denny’s booth if there’s an offseason tight ends meeting.  He finished two spots ahead of now-former Bill Charles Clay, who had one fewer reception and a lot less production.  While it might not seem that long, he’s spent half his career so far with the Bills. As for the Cardinal’s second team, Clay went from from decent to disappearing as his knee betrayed him.  I won’t even mention the emblematically devastating Miami drop after this.

The Bills have been meaning to catch The Sopranos one of these years.  Our beloved old-fashioned franchise has never exploited the phenomenon of underneath routes, never mind stretching the field with a man large enough to be a gentleman’s club bouncer if his knees didn’t hold up.  A league obsessed with passing making use of athletic brutes aligned next to the tackle might be a trend worth watching.

Big receiver is a new position in this advanced league.  The NFL doesn’t have cyborgs playing yet, unless they’re so convincing that we can’t even distinguish them. For now, only defenses are doomed and not humanity.  It sure seems like some talent is mechanically enhanced, as the nightmare matchups makes defensive coordinators turn to cold gin. Now, it’s just a matter of adding a marvelous talent.  Oh – that’s the hard portion.

Photo of TE Tony Gonzalez from sportingnews.com and Getty Images.

Missing out is nothing new.  Tony Gonzalez was just elected to the Hall of Fame as the Bills spent his entire career trying to remember that the position in question is eligible to receive passes.  A tight end hasn’t been a sixth lineman since television screens went flat.  Nobody told us, as we just found out the Doobie Brothers broke up.  Breaking news shouldn’t take two decades to reach the front office, especially with information traveling through the ether.  It’s worth tying up the phone line to check for instant updates.

Luckily, the Bills are only maybe eight starters short of a solid roster.  They need conventional receivers in the same sense Venezuela needs full supermarkets.  Oh, and the offensive line requires more replacements than Matthew Barnaby’s teeth. On the plus side, need versus value won’t be much of a draft issue considering how much of the former there is.

Of course, nothing makes catchers look competent like accurate passes.  Josh Allen’s continued progress would be the best way to increase reception counts.  Also, The Simpsons should be as funny as it was when I was in college.  I wish the concept were as easy as the execution.

The good news is the Bills will be much improved if they put their cap space and draft capital to good use.  The problem is they have to do all the stuff.  Well, that’s easy!  The offense just needs suspension work and shocks.  Brakes, brake pads, lining, steering box, transmission, rear-end. Also new rings, mufflers, a little wiring. This had better be the busiest offseason in franchise history.  If nothing else, knowing what they’re missing is a good place to start.

Editor’s babble: While they are at it, can we get the Bills front office to send a few motivated players to the Sabres? Asking for a friend. As always, thanks to Anthony Bialy for keeping absurdity alive as we make our way through the dark days of February. You can find Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyBialy.

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy recently moved back to Buffalo from New York City and acts like he never left. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He likes getting Tim Hortons on the way to get Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.

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