The New England Patriots became famous in NFL Draft circles for drafting multiple tight ends in the draft in various years. Drafting one in the first round never worked out as well, such as with Daniel Graham or Benjamin Watson, but once the Patriots learned that you could draft two or three in the second through seventh rounds instead of just one in the first, things started to really take off for the offense.
I am obviously referring to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. When the Patriots learned how to utilize the two of them on the field at the same time, the offense became nearly unstoppable.
After having played – and lost to them – so many times over the past few seasons, the Baltimore Ravens figured if you can’t beat them, why not join them?
The Ravens have switched from a run first, run second, run third and throw if all else fails to an offense that is actually centered around the pass game now. Even star running back Ray Rice said that this is quarterback Joe Flacco’s team now, and the Ravens are trying to air it out far more than they have in recent years.
But more specifically, Baltimore has gone to the two tight end set as much as any other team in the league so far, including New England.
I will say that Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson are not Gronk and Hernandez. In two games this season, however, the stats are starting to look a bit more similar.
Gronkowski has 12 catches for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is clearly the No. 1 option with New England. But in Baltimore, Pitta has 13 catches for 138 yards and 1 touchdown. Like I said, they are very close.
Hernandez and Dickson are a bit further in comparison, as Hernandez has 6 catches for 59 yards and a touchdown, while Dickson has just 3 catches for 45 yards with no scores.
Still, this Ravens’ offense is beginning to really resemble that of the Patriots’. Especially since the Ravens are starting to use Pitta more like the Patriots use Hernandez. He is lining up more like a wide receiver than a tight end in many sets. This forces defenses to declare their coverage early.
On Sunday Night Football, the Patriots will be without Hernandez. But when they watch the Ravens on offense, it will be like looking in a mirror.
Granted, for New England’s defense, this should be something they are used to facing in practice.