Reggie Kelly has been known for many things throughout his duration in Cincinnati. A good teammate and a great person. A solid foundation of strength, either through faith or as a mentor. And just as important, a very good pass blocker. Kelly has spent as much of his Bengals career in the backfield as an H-back as he has on the line of scrimmage as a tight end.
However, according to Pro Football Focus' Pass Blocking Efficiency, Kelly's production as a blocker has recently fallen. Taking 85 snaps as a pass blocker in 2008, Kelly allowed only one pressure and two quarterback sacks for a Pass Blocking Efficiency score of 3.24. That's respectable enough to rank inside the top ten amongst pass blocking tight ends if it were the 2010 season. However, it really is 2010 that we're focused on and according to Pro Football Focus' charts, Kelly allowed three quarterback sacks and two quarterback pressures during his 78 snaps as a pass blocker, translating into a Pass Blocking Efficiency score of 5.77. Kelly's score ranked inside the bottom 15 amongst pass blockers at the tight end position.
Yet, as we pointed out earlier, Kelly's 2008 score was very good. And if we combine that score with last year's score, Kelly's 4.45 PBE still ranks inside the top-15 at tight end over the course of the last three seasons (Kelly missed the entire 2009 season with an injury).
Maybe Kelly's age is the reason for his decreasing pedigree as a blocker. We're not unaware that football players tend to depreciate quickly, especially following a major injury. On the other hand, the Bengals just weren't good as a unit in 2010 and that can't be rested on the shoulders of any single player. Everyone simply had a bad season on offense.
Be joyful my brothers (and sisters) from other mothers. Where Kelly's struggles begin, his young protege takes over. According to the same formula and numbers, tight end Jermaine Gresham actually ranked amongst the better pass blocking tight ends in the league. Blocking during 70 passing snaps during the 2010 season, Kelly allowed only four pressures for a PBE of 4.29. Of course this might seem somewhat pointless, based on the fact Gresham is likely to run patterns rather than block on passing downs. While he blocked during 70 passing snaps in 2010, Gresham also ran patterns on 332 patterns.
Since the sample used for Kelly only uses a season in which the Bengals stunk as an entire team, while coming off a major injury, we're not sure how much stock we should put into the numbers reflecting Kelly's 2010 season. That being said, Kelly is a free agent when the new league year begins and could return to Cincinnati next season; especially considering this team will see a big youth movement. Though we don't expect him to return.