It's going to be difficult for Tight End Jermaine Gresham to improve much off of his rookie campaign of 2010. He set the Bengals' rookie receiving record for Tight Ends and has made himself a new kind of offensive weapon that the team hasn't had since the days of Tony McGee or Rodney Holman before that.
Gresham is becoming one of the most complete Tight Ends in the game today. He's looking to improve off of his solid rookie year by utilizing a lot of valuable advice he gained last season from his mentor, Reggie Kelly. But he's also relishing his role in Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden's new system and embracing the change of personnel around him.
Throw in the recent signing of the solid veteran, Bo Scaife, along with the athleticism of Chase Coffman, and this position group is one of the strongest on the team. And Gruden is loving his group:
"The more we get to know them, the more we put in, the more active they'll be," Gruden said. "Jermaine and (the other tight ends) haven’t made a major splash yet, but I think they will by the time we get rolling Week 1. (Scaife) is a talented receiver and he's run a lot of routes in his day and caught a lot of balls. He has a great feel for the game. Jermaine is still learning but has all the talent in the world. Those two together are pretty good and Chase (Coffman) does a nice a job getting down the field. Those are three pretty good ones."
The signing of Scaife was bittersweet, to say the least. Many Bengals fans voiced displeasure with this signing because they felt that that position group wasn't one that needed to be addressed. Some were calling for the team to bring back the popular Reggie Kelly. But, with Scaife, the Bengals get a better and younger receiving threat, while not losing much in the blocking game.
Tight ends play a huge role in the West Coast offense. And, most of the time, good West Coast Offense tight ends are required to both block well and make plays in the passing game. Gresham and Scaife are complete tight ends that excel in both of those areas. Coffman has struggled with his blocking since his rookie year, but is improving there and is a great receiver. Gruden has said that tight ends "have to be versatile", and this group exemplifies that.
The Bengals will be utilizing more multiple tight end sets to get more than one of these three guys on the field at the same time. This is key because this position group would no doubt become rookie quarterback Andy Dalton's security blanket. Look for this group to be targeted often in short yardage and goalline situations. Hopefully, we'll start seeing this happen this Friday against Detroit.