Friday, March 19, 2010

Patriots Improved at Tight End

According to (link), the Patriots signed former Atlanta and Tennessee tight end, Alge Crumpler.  And while the ESPN story makes it sound like a lateral move from last year (he had similar stats to Benjamin Watson), there are three reasons to think that Crumpler is a significant improvement for 2010.

First off, Crumpler has much better skills than Watson ever will.  There's no comparison between their ball skills; Crumpler always make the catch, Watson is a crap-shoot on every throw.  And you can tell just by watching him that Alge knows how to get open in the middle of the field and, more importantly, in the end zone.  The last Patriots tight end to use his size effectively to create separation in the passing game was Ben Coates, and that was 10 years ago.  Crumpler's no Coates, but Alge plays off defensive contact and leverages his size to make space in tight quarters between linebackers and in the end zone.

Secondly, it's important to consider that Crumpler had similar numbers to Watson the last few years, but with the likes of Vince Young, Michael Vick, and Joey Harrington (blech!) throwing to him.  Think what he might do if he gets in sync with Hall of Famer to be Tom Brady, and with Randy Moss to stretch the field, too.  If you recall, there was a guy named Wes Welker who practically doubled his production just by coming to the Patriots.  Not saying that Crumpler is about to lead the NFL in receiving like Welker.  But if he connects well with Brady, his talent could make him vastly more productive than any Patriots tight end since the aforementioned Ben Coates.

And finally, Crumpler stays on the field; Watson unfortunately did not.  Watson made it through only one full season in his career, and he started a mere 24 games the last three years.  Crumpler has six 16-game slates on his resume, and the number of starts by season over his career is vastly better than Watson.  To make the point directly, here is a comparison of Crumpler and Watson in percentage of career games played and started:

Games played:
Crumpler 97% (139 of 144)
Watson 73% (71 of 96)

Games started:
Crumpler 87% (122 of 144)
Watson 49% (47 of 96)

So Crumpler has better ball skills and get-open-ability, will probably increase his production with Tom Brady throwing to him, and can be counted on to play most every game every season.  And when you consider that the loss of Wes Welker puts more pressure on Patriots tight ends for production, the signing of Alge Crumpler is seems like a win-win-win.

All in all, a great move by the Patriots.  Here's hoping Crumpler works well without a position coach :)

Keep the faith,

- Scott

PS.  0-0!

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