I was pleasantly surprised to hear that George Henshaw was back in the mix as tight ends coach for the Titans.
I know first-hand all of the little things he taught me about the position and his approach to the game as my position coach here with the Titans. He made me as successful as I could be and was really the mastermind behind the concepts we had in place with the two tight end set.
I think Coach Munchak witnessed the success we had with that system back in the day and sees the production other teams around the league are having with it. You can even look at the two Super Bowl participants with Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker in San Francisco and Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta with the Ravens. The Patriots, obviously, have had success with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. So there are a lot of different tandems out there that are having success and helping their teams win games with a two tight end set.
It's an alignment that is difficult to defend. The tight ends can be very interchangeable and I think that's the direction you'll see this offense go with the addition of Coach Henshaw. It will likely be some of what we did back in the day, combined with some fresh ideas that offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains will bring to the table. I think they'll get
I know it's initially surprising to hear of change whenever you've been with the same position coach for such a long time. But I think this entire group will be really excited to hear Coach Henshaw's ideas on how effective they can be in this offense. He will help them master the position to the point where they can take over games. There are certainly going to be a lot of good opportunities for the tight ends going forward. If they embrace this change with an open mind and are good students, Coach Henshaw can help take their games to the next level.
Coach Henshaw brings a wealth of experience to the Titans. Most importantly, his repetition and attention to detail really helped me out. George is a guy that you can trust and he's always looking after your best interests. He's done some really good things with the run and pass game as it pertains to the tight ends, and he can help out the entire group.
I feel like Jared Cook is at a point in his career where he can take his game to the next level. He's graduated. He can do certain things, but once he learns the little nuances of the game as far as spacing, where you line up and the hints you can give in your routes to set defenders up or to beat certain guys, he'll be an even more dynamic player. We can all get better. Just watch Tony Gonzalez, Jason Whitten and those guys. They just don't run to 10 and turn around. There's a lot that goes into it and I think Jared has shown some of that, but ultimately there's a master's degree that would help him take the next step in his career.
I think Craig Stevens is underrated as a receiver. He's obviously a great blocker and the Titans' offense needs him in certain spots. He can help them do things where Cook can't and vice-versa. I think there's definitely a role for what Craig and Jared can do on the field at the same time. They can add a lot of shifts, motions and different personnel groupings to throw defenses off. There's a lot of good route combinations that Coach Henshaw and Dowell will add to the equation to get the tight ends involved early and ultimately take over a game.
Taylor Thompson is a freakish athlete. He obviously has the prototypical tight end body -- the build, the size and speed -- that a lot of the good ones have. He showed last year by making the switch from defensive end in college to becoming an NFL tight end that he can learn on the fly. The playing time he got as a rookie will only help him as he settles more into the tight end position in his second season. If he continues to work on his hands and practice with the JUGS machine during the offseason, I think he could potentially see a big jump in his production in 2013.
All three players are great athletes in their own right. It's exciting to see some of the freakish athletic ability from this group. I think Jake Locker can look at that and see the concepts and potential that this unit has. And Coach Henshaw, I believe, can bring it all together. He has really good ways of getting certain points across. He will get on you if you're not doing the right thing. But ultimately George has the tight end position and the team in his best interest. Winning is very important to him.
Coach Henshaw will stay on those guys every day until they perfect his system and I think it's a great opportunity for the offense to benefit from this system by moving the chains and staying on the field.
An experienced color analyst on Titans Radio, three-time Pro Bowler Frank Wycheck finished his 11-year NFL career with 505 receptions, fourth most in NFL history by a tight end, and one of only five tight ends to surpass 500 career receptions (Shannon Sharpe, Ozzie Newsome, Kellen Winslow and Tony Gonzalez). A member of the team's Ring of Honor and inductee into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, Wycheck co-hosts a daily morning show on Nashville's 104.5 The Zone, the flagship station of Titans Radio.