Over the next two weeks, Acme Packing Company takes a look at each position group on the Green Bay Packers and provides grades and insight on how they performed in the 2015 season. Today, we examine the tight ends. Follow along with all of our positional breakdowns here.
You could make the argument that perhaps no other position has changed the dynamic of passing offenses more over the last five years than tight end. The Patriots regularly trot out a bunch of XFL rejects at wide receiver and because of Rob Gronkowski, the passing game hums right along, scoring 25+ ppg nearly every year. Tom Brady obviously has something to do with that, but even the Bengals, a team with a rich man's Matt Flynn at quarterback, saw their passing offense go from occasionally dangerous with just A.J. Green as their main weapon, to outright explosive with the emergence of Tyler Eifert this year. Of course, weapons like Gronk and Eifert don't exactly grow on trees, but the inability of Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson to acquire an athletic tight end - or at the very least, a crafty veteran who can still find space up the seams - proved to be one of this team's biggest downfalls in 2015.
Let's take a look at the players who manned the position in 2015.
Even before Andrew Quarless went all Miami Vice, Richard Rodgers was considered coming into the season to be, "The Guy." Of course, that title turned out be a de facto one based on Quarless' suspension and the fact that the rest of the team's tight ends were just outright bad at playing football. But nevertheless, Rodgers had shown enough flashes and enough chemistry with Aaron Rodgers in his rookie campaign to warrant being the team's starter coming in. And while his numbers in a vacuum I suppose aren't the worst (58 catches, 510 yards, 8 TD's), his big coming out party in week 13 against Detroit (8 catches for 146 and that whole Hail Mary thing) turned out to be merely an aberration. The rest of the time, Rodgers was what his now two full years of work suggests he'll be most of his career - a sure-handed guy who runs slower than Bill in accounting at your company's potato sack race.
Ugh, I guess Perillo was technically the backup, but you could easily list "A house plant" or, "A cardboard cutout of Jean Claude Van Damme" here and be just as relevant because Perillo basically saw no time this year. Coming off his rookie year, which he spent most of on the practice squad, Perillo made the active roster this year when Quarless was hurt. His production crested with a half-decent performance against Detroit that saw him catch 5 balls (some of which were tough ones to make) for 58 yards and a score. Of course, Perillo was inactive the next game for reasons that I'm sure are very good.
As we mentioned, Andrew Quarless spent the offseason in a bit of hot water after he was busted for toting a handgun in Miami and followed that up with an action which will never stop being funny: hiding from police in a nearby bush. Ignoring the mental state one has to be in to consider shrubbery a valid form of concealment when you're a 6'4" and 250+ lbs, Quarless' physical contributions this year weren't much better. Appearing in just five games, Quarless caught a mere four balls thrown his way and displayed little of the same athleticism that once made him a dynamic receiving threat.
Overall Grade: D-minus
The only thing preventing me from giving this unit an outright F is the fact that I don't think they actually underperformed in some massively egregious way. They just played to what they're capable of playing and unfortunately, what most of them are capable of is very little. (Bonus: they got their position coach, Jerry Fontenot, fired as well.) That said, a grade is a grade and if there's one unit that could stand to get a complete overhaul this off-season, it's tight end.