Happy National Tight Ends day everybody. Week 7 of the NFL season is the time that is set aside to pay homage to the league’s most valuable tweeners. These are people not fast enough to play wide receiver, but also not big enough for the offensive line. However, football has found a place for these large men without the basketball acumen to play power forward in the NBA, to thrive on the gridiron.
A great tight end is capable of being a game-breaking player. An extra blocker who is also regularly trusted as a pass catcher that can put opposing defenses in a trick bag. Rob Gronkowski may not have been the ideal wide receiver or offensive tackle, but he still found a way to become a legend — and USAA spokesperson — by performing the duties of both positions at a high level.
The tight ends did not disappoint on their big day during Week 7. Many of them showed the NFL viewing public that they are some of the best athletes in the world.
Tight ends of all ages made contributions on Sunday. Longtime veteran Marcedes Lewis caught his second pass of the season and that first-half catch put the Chicago Bears in a goal-to-go situation. Mike Gesicki hauled in two receptions for five yards on the day, but that second one was a game-winner for the New England Patriots against the Buffalo Bills. Also, Dalton Kincaid was the Bills’ top pass catcher on the day.
For all of the tight ends who made this year’s Week 7 NFL holiday special, it was Travis Kelce, Kyle Pitts, Dallas Goedert, Mark Andrews and Darren Waller who best displayed the excellence of the position.
Kyle Pitts is a gifted athlete, thanks for the reminder Atlanta Falcons
Pitts scored his first touchdown of the season in Week 6. Only twice this season has he caught more than four passes because the Falcons are struggling to make this athletic specimen a regular part of the offense, three years into his NFL career.
He caught only three passes in Week 7, but that final reception was crucial in the Falcons assuming first place in the NFC South. On the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Falcons and Bucs were tied at 13. Pitts’ third catch went for 39 yards and put the Falcons at the Bucs’ 36 yard line with 40 seconds remaining in the game.
Younghoe Koo will be remembered as the hero of the game with a 51-yard field goal as time expired, as he should. But as clutch as Koo was with that game-winning kick, remember, on National Tight Ends Day, he would have never had the opportunity without a huge play from Pitts, a former No. 4 overall draft pick who entered the day with 22 total receptions on the season.
Darren Waller was a true game-breaker for the New York Giants in Week 7
For two seasons with the Raiders, Waller was one of the most promising young tight ends in the NFL. In both 2019 and 2020, Waller hauled in at least 90 passes for 1,100 yards. The Raiders made him the highest paid tight end, per annual salary, in 2022. However, injuries limited his production both that season and in 2021.
The Raiders traded him to the Giants in March. Through six weeks of the 2023 season, Waller did not catch a touchdown pass as the Giants’ offense coughed and sputtered their way to a 1-5 record.
Against the Washington Commanders on National Tight Ends Day, however, Waller tallied the best receiving performance of the season for the Giants — four days after his wife, Kelsey Plum, won her second consecutive WNBA Championship. Waller caught seven passes for 98 yards, and scored the first touchdown of the game. The Giants never trailed in a 14-7 win.
Mark Andrews found the end zone twice during a Baltimore Ravens rout
The Detroit Lions left their game at home in Week 7. They showed up to the M&T Bank Stadium and got blown out by the Ravens, 38-6. At halftime, the score was 28-0. The Ravens’ performance left their opponent helpless. An opponent that entered the game with a better record and a road victory against the defending Super Bowl Champions.
Offensive success piled up in a hurry for the Ravens on Sunday. Lamar Jackson’s brilliance was the main factor, but his most reliable pass-catching threat also made his mark on the day. Jackson threw for 357 yards and four touchdowns, 63 yards and two touchdowns of which were shared with Andrews.
For the first time this season, the Ravens’ offense played to its preseason potential — and did so against one of the top defenses in the NFL. New additions such as Zay Flowers and Odell Beckahm Jr. helped, but it was Jackson’s longtime reliable target Andrews who spent the day in the end zone.
Dallas Goedert’s tight end responsibilities help push the Philadelphia Eagles to success
As great as Goedert is, he won’t ever be considered one of the top game-breaking NFL tight ends. Through five seasons, he has not totaled 1,000 yards receiving in any one of them. He may never reach that mark while sharing a field with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.
His value to the Eagles cannot be measured by only counting statistics for pass catchers, even though the 55 receptions he totaled for 702 yards and three touchdowns in 2022 would have been useful for many teams last season. Against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Goedert was the Eagles’ second-best receiver with five receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown. While great at catching passes, he was also crucial in his role on several Tush Push plays.
When Goedert lines up behind Jalen Hurts to shove him to a first down, it is done with the same effort and care as a route headed for a touchdown. His push is the final heave that extends many drives for the Eagles. The Dolphins witnessed the effectiveness of that shove up close throughout their 31-17 loss.
Travis Kelce is still a cut above the rest
What better way is there to celebrate National Tight Ends Day than for a player at that position to be the top pass catcher in the NFL for the week. Kelce’s name rings out on social media for several reasons these days, but he would have no celebrity if not for him being one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history.
Without his four-time, first-team All-Pro production, there is no Kelce Amazon documentary or enough notoriety to date someone far more famous than he. Kelce dominating the Los Angeles Chargers to the tune of 12 catches for 179 yards and touchdown was a reminder that, at 34, he is still one of the most dominant players in the NFL.
There have been many great NFL tight ends, but only a few have been able to parlay their dominance into wide-receiver level celebrity and more. Kelce is on that short list, and on the holiday for his position, he was arguably the best player in the NFL for Week 7.
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