Vernon Davis came to the Denver Broncos just a day after a breakout game from Owen Daniels and Virgil Green against the Green Bay Packers. He joined a team that, before the Packers victory, had struggled to get the tight ends involved – a curious problem to have in a Gary Kubiak-led offense. Now, just three games later, the Broncos are giving Brock Osweiler the first start of his young career and the tight ends will likely be his security blanket in Chicago.
“I think our tight end position has been the most productive the last couple of weeks, since Vernon [Davis] got here. O.D. [Daniels] had a big game in Indianapolis and last week they all caught some balls. I think that we’re progressing the way that we’d like to progress with that group of guys,” head coach Gary Kubiak said Thursday. “I just think that we keep going, but honestly he [Davis] has been a nice addition to our team. The more comfortable that we get him with what we’re doing, the more effective he should be.”
Daniels has been a duel threat in the pass and run game for some time now while Davis is undoubtably a pass-catching specialist. Lastly, Green has been a consistent blocker but has yearned and worked at becoming a part of the passing attack. Defenses have to respect each individual’s strength, which can provide mismatches in how Kubiak calls the plays.
“We got three guys who can do a lot of different stuff and create mismatches. I think, no matter what personnel they decide to put on the field against us, we can run it or we can throw it, Daniels said of the tight end group Friday. He continued to elaborate on how they can out-man defenses:
“If Vernon [Davis] and I are in, they may put the quicker guy on him. If me and Virgil are in they may put the quicker guy on me and the bigger guy on him but that is a mismatch all day. They would be wrong no matter how they do it, the way I see it. If you put a little guy on me we can run it my way. If you put a big guy on Virg [Green], he’s going to beat them on routes, so that is beneficial to our offense but we have confidence with whoever they put out there on us.”
The tight end is often the check-down receiver and Osweiler will have to find any of the three capable tight ends Sunday when he is pressured. The Broncos offensive line has struggled in protection the last two weeks and with Osweiler getting his first full game as the team’s quarterback, he will likely look to the short, safe pass often. Daniels understands the attention and pressure Osweiler is under but noted, that as a group they simply have to prepare as they do every week.
“We aren’t going to do anything extra or out of the ordinary,” he said. “If we just do our and job and be in the right spot, then we will be that check down, that security blanket for him. That is kind of the way it is built in.That goes for everybody. As long as we are doing our job, taking care of our business then that is as much as we can do to help Brock.”
Luckily for Osweiler, the Broncos tight ends have had some nice combined performances recently outside of the horrible team showing last week versus the Kansas City Chiefs. Against the Packers in Week 8, Daniels and Green combined for six catches and 105 receiving yards. The next week, as all three played (Davis in a limited role), they combined for seven catches, 115 receiving yards and a Daniels touchdown. On the season the tight ends have combined for four of the team’s 10 receiving scores.
Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison believes that having all three versatile players healthy and ready to impact the offense will really help diversify what they can do.
“Its great to have those, certainly because just rotation, one, and then your different personnel packages. Sometimes you get limited. If you only have two, there’s not much you can do with those. To have three and active and playing and doing different things and to be as versatile as those guys are will help us.”
Davis is in his third week with the team and is ready to make a bigger impact in the game Sunday, saying, “Things are coming together real nice this week.” He called the tight end group “well rounded.” Last week, he caught two passes for 19 yards but saw very few snaps. As he gets more comfortable in the offense he can command more attention from opposing defenses with his speed. He has long been noticed for his quickness but surprised many of his teammates when he got on the practice field recently.
“I think that the addition of Vernon [Davis], he is still very, very fast and explosive. It’s crazy,” Green said Wednesday. “The first route I saw him run I was like, ‘Yikes!’ I thought I was pretty fast.”
As Dennison and Daniels stated, the two tight end sets will be big for the Broncos as they try to get the run game going to set up the pass for their young quarterback. Green believes that that particular formation can pay dividends Sunday.
“I think having those two tight end sets really benefits the team I think. We move the ball great out of those sets and then throwing when we are running the ball well is a lot easier. We can get a lot bigger chunks of it.”
The three tight end targets are getting comfortable at just the right time and Osweiler will undoubtably rely heavily on their entire skill sets. They should have ample opportunities to effect the game and the newest one of them already likes what he has seen from his new quarterback.
“There’s tons of confidence from the defensive side, offensive side and special teams. We all feel that Brock can come in and get the job done. I stay out after practice and worked with the guy. Even last week, we stayed out and probably threw about 20 balls. I feel like he can get it done. I believe in him,” Davis said Monday.
Certainly Osweiler has confidence in the dynamic tight end group he has and will need to use them in order to get himself and the team back on track.