The arrival of a former a former San Francisco quarterback may mean better production from Kansas City’s tight ends.
Alex Smith heavily relies on tight ends in the passing game, especially in the red zone. Of Smith’s 30 touchdown passes the last two years, nearly half were caught by tight ends. A third of the 30 were caught by tight end Vernon Davis. In the last two seasons Davis has accumulated 108 catches for 1,340 yards while averaging 12.4 yards per reception, and was used heavily in the redzone where he caught six of his 10 touchdowns. Another four touchdowns were caught by Delanie Walker.
Smith uses tight ends a lot as a safety blanket in the middle of the field and as a weapon in the redzone. In 2011, Smith’s last full season, Davis was targeted 95 times, down from the 129 times he was targeted in 2009 (Smith started 10 games that season). Last season Davis had 41 targets through nine weeks before Smith went down with a concussion. When Colin Kaepernick took the reigns, Davis saw his targets drop and totaled just 61 for the season. In fact, Davis caught just one touchdown from Kaepernick and had just 11 targets in the final six games of the season.
Moeaki has in many ways not lived up to the expectations lauded on him by fans after he was drafted in 2010. In his rookie year he hauled in 47 passes on 72 targets for 556 yards and three touchdowns. While he wasn’t quite the weapon many hoped for there was at least some promise. Then he tore his ACL in the final preseason game against Green Bay in 2011 and missed the entire season. His production slipped in his return in 2012, catching just 33 passes on 56 targets for 453 yards and just one touchdown.
Injury concerns with Moeaki and the need for depth at the position led to Kansas City signing Anthony Fasano shortly after free agency opened up.
Fasano isn’t known for making a lot of catches in the passing game, but he has been very useful in the redzone. Fasano has 24 career touchdowns on just 205 receptions in seven seasons. Of his 24 touchdown receptions, 20 have come in the redzone. He has also showed an ability to be effective in a passing attack that lacks weapons, last year being the best example when he led the Miami Dolphins with five touchdowns.
The other factor is the offense Andy Reid is bringing in to Kansas City. Brent Celek, the tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles the last six seasons, has caught 237 passes for 2,977 yards and 18 touchdowns in the last four years. This even though Philadelphia has had weapons like LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson on the field at the same time. Reid isn’t going to run his offense through the tight end position but he is going abandon it. With addition of a quarterback who loves to throw to the tight end, Reid may go that direction even more than normal to open up space for Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, and others to run around.