For the first time all season, the Houston Texans got their tight ends involved in their offense against the Tennessee Titans last Sunday. And it needs to happen for the rest of the season too.
Brock Osweiler and the Houston passing game as a whole had failed to involve their tight ends in the offensive schemes to start the season. Through the first two games, both Ryan Griffin and C.J. Fiedorowicz had combined to catch five passes for 29 yards. Griffin had eight catches for 52 yards against the Patriots, but Houston’s offense failed to score in that game and was out of sorts the entire night.
Against the Titans, however, the Texans got both tight ends involved in the pass game. And it paid off.
Griffin and Fiedorowicz combined to catch seven passes for 102 yards. Fiedorowicz reeled in a touchdown, and Griffin hauled in a 45-yard reception. Aside from Will Fuller, no other Texans receiver had a better day than the tight ends.
When Bill O’Brien was brought in as Houston’s head coach, he was expected to utilize Houston’s tight ends more. O’Brien’s offensive philosophy usually involves tight ends as legitimate pass catching threats, but since he’s been with the Texans, they’ve had very little production from that unit.
Since O’Brien took over as head coach in 2014, the Texans have never had a tight end catch more than 20 passes. Griffin caught 20 passes for 251 yards and two scores in 2015, but that’s the high for Houston tight ends over the last two-plus years. In fact, Griffin’s 54 yards were the most receiving yards any Texans tight end had hauled in since Griffin had four catches for 72 yards and a score against New Orleans in late November of last year.
The Texans’ pass attack hasn’t floundered without a true threat at the tight end position thanks to DeAndre Hopkins and a handful of veteran receivers behind him over the past couple years. But Houston’s offense is usually more effective when its tight ends are involved.
Houston scored the most points it has all season and totaled its most offensive yards in a game this year against the Titans. And that’s not because the Titans’ defense was bad like it was in 2015. Tennessee came in having not allowed more than 17 points to an opposing offense in its first three games.
The Texans still aren’t producing many big plays through the air, only pulling off seven pass plays of over 25 yards through four games. So if they’re content to throw mid-range passes and dink and dunk their way through the air, involving the tight end only makes sense.
Right now, Griffin is only averaging 32 yards per game. Twenty-five other tight ends in the NFL have a better per game average than Griffin. Three teams (Atlanta, Philadelphia, Indianapolis) have two tight ends on their roster with better averages than Griffin.
Coming into the game against the Titans, both Griffin and Fiedorowicz had a combined 81 receiving yards. The two more than doubled their season totals with their 102 yards against the Titans, and their involvement should only increase moving forward. They’re both reliable, hauling in 71.4 percent of their targets. Aside from Lamar Miller, those two have the best catch rate on the team of anyone with nine or more targets.
Houston’s offense works best when their tight ends are involved. And the game against Tennessee showed that. It’s time for the Texans to start getting them in the game plan more.