There were dreams. Not just from Chase Coffman, but the same Bengals fans, who vicariously live through all professional athletes, formulating brilliant routes on a napkin that could free athletic tight ends down the middle of the field. A perfect weapon to help franchise quarterback Carson Palmer, returning from an elbow injury that wiped out all but four games in 2008. No more blocking-oriented tight ends to anchor the edges. Now was the time for the light-footed, soft hands tight end to create the same match-up problems so many tight ends present in today's game.
Three-plus years later and he was gone.
After Justin Smith departed for the San Francisco 49ers in 2008, the Cincinnati Bengals were awarded a third-round compensatory pick for the 2009 NFL draft. With that pick, the 34th in the third round, the Bengals selected Missouri tight end Chase Coffman 98th overall, eventually signing him to a four-year contract on July 28, 2009. Little did we know that the extent of Coffman's Bengals career was highlighted during HBO's Hard Knocks, pumping out push ups each time he made a mistake.
Still he made the opening day roster, but failed to break out of the weekly inactive list through the first 12 games of the season before he was placed on the Injured Reserve List after bone spurs in his left ankle started generating too much aggravation. Though he played all five preseason games in 2010, Coffman failed to make the 53-man roster. He was placed on the team's practice squad before signing onto the 53-man roster on November 9, playing six games and even generating three receptions for 30 yards receiving against the Baltimore Ravens during the regular season finale. That would be the only game Coffman recorded a catch in his Bengals career. Coffman was once again placed on the team's practice squad the following year.
Now when teams enter the offseason, they're allowed to increase their roster once again from the standard 53. Typically the means practice squad players, whose contracts have expired, sign offseason contracts to remain on the team's roster. Chase Coffman was one of three players that the team didn't bother signing. Earlier this week Coffman finally found a home in Tampa Bay, who thrives on acquiring talent through Cincinnati's practice squad.
There are many reasons why Coffman simply failed in Cincinnati. Perhaps he just didn't fit with the team's offenses. Maybe he wasn't that good. One reader offered that it was the result of bad coaching from tight ends coach Jay Hayes. Thought the point is valid, we counter that suggestion with this: Chase Coffman struggled to make the active roster and once bone spurs claimed his 2009 season, he was forced to deal with Jermaine Gresham, who was the prized draft pick by the Bengals that season. Now his attention was reduced and Gresham was the man. Then again we have to keep in mind that Coffman failed to surpass Daniel Coats on the depth chart.
Jay Hayes Deserve Criticism For Chase Coffman?
|"Hayes deserves criticism for Coffman's failures. Not only did he and the organization mis-evaluate him before the draft, but they didn't recognize Coffman's strengths and work with his weaknesses after he was on the team. Coffman didn't develop in the slightest bit during his time with the Bengals. Hopefully Hayes' relationship with Paul Coffman (Chase's dad) didn't blind him during evaluations and hopefully it didn't allow Chase to skate instead of working to get better."|
|" I don't know about that, Joe. Perhaps you're right and they didn't evaluate him correctly and/or play to his strengths, but it also may be that Coffman just isn't that good a player. Remember, this is a guy the Bengals took with a comp pick -- the 34th selection in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft -- so we are talking about a guy that no team in the league thought worth of a premium (i.e. top-three rounds) pick. He was basically the first pick in the 4th round. And he's spent time either not on the team or on the taxi squad, so any team that thought he was worth anything has had ample opportunity to sign him. Now, maybe he blooms in Tampa Bay, and I wish him the best of luck, but until I see some other coach turn him into an NFL player, I can't fault Hayes.
As for poor draft evaluation, hey, go back and look at the 2009 draft. Seriously. Andre "Moobs" Smith? Would you take him sixth overall again? Second round: Rey "Shooters" Maualuga. He was on our podcast rhymes-with-Whit-list all year. Next is MJ, who might be the best of the three. After that you've got Coffman, Luigs, Huber, Trent, Scott, Vakapuna, McDonald and Freddie Brown. When about the best guy you can point to is the punter, you didn't have a good draft.