Tight Ends Coach Lunda Wells
July 30, 2018
Q: Tight ends seemed to be used in a lot more variety of ways this season. How is that being influenced?
A: I think it goes back to how coach [Pat] Shurmur puts in his offense. At times it pops off as if theyíre strategically being used at different spots, but itís kind of his philosophy offensively in terms of no matter what personnel grouping weíre in, anybody can line up at any spot and execute any scheme we have in the offense. So at times itís like, oh the tight end is split out as the number one spot and runs a route and catches the ball and oh theyíre playing from deep out there. Pat [Shurmur] couldíve easily just called a play and they ended up outside and it just happens. The versatility in terms of understanding every position has been the philosophy by Pat [Shurmur] and thatís why it seems like weíre lined up in multiple spots.
Q: Pat talked about Evan Engram improving as a blocker and kind of blossoming into that kind of three-down tight end type of a player. What have you seen from him throughout the offseason and now kind of building on that skillset as a receiver and being a complete tight end?
A: Obviously we know what he is as a receiver. Heís done a nice job in terms of trying to understand A, the scheme, but then B, understanding the fine details within the scheme. Heís done a nice job with continuing to understand the details of the techniques within the scheme so I think thatís been in line with him to become a better blocker for us so far.
Q: Is [Garrett] Dickerson still limited? Has he been held out?
A: Heís been working through some things. I think thatís one question for Pat [Shurmur], but yeah heís been working through some things.
Q: What have you seen from him as a guy trying to stick on the fringe of the roster?
A: One of the biggest things that I always talk about, you know, tight ends having a redeeming quality. You caught on tape Ė a guy heís a blocker, a guy heís a receiver or hey this guy is a headsy player, heís a smart player. [Garrett] Dickersonís redeeming quality so far has been heís been very sharp, heís very sharp, which allows him to play a tick faster than what his 40 [yard dash] time might be and be effective. His sharpness is really good, heís a Northwestern guy so that contributes to it [laughs].
Q: You mentioned before that you know what Evan [Engram] is as a receiver, that heís a pass catcher. But he did have some drops last year. Was there maybe one thing he needed to work on there? What do you see about the drops?
A: Like anything, there is always room for improvement and in terms of drops, always circle the wagon and talk about, hey how did you drop the ball and why did you drop it. One of the biggest things we focused on this year is catching the ball with proper technique. I call it catch fundamentals, so youíll see at times a guy catches the ball and everybody goes crazy like wow he caught the ball, but he might have not utilized the proper technique in terms of catching it. Sometimes things work without using the right technique, but at times at the most critical moment, they donít work if you continue to not use the right technique in terms of catching the ball. So we emphasized that in terms of proper catch technique and again the only way to emphasize proper catch technique is to catch more balls so pre practice, during practice, post practice is real critical even in the meeting room catch the balls, even do ball drills in the meeting rooms for all the guys. Again, you could never catch enough footballs as you already know.
Q: And that was the consistent thing that you saw last year from him?
A: Sometimes, sometimes, just fine details. In terms of this getting your pinkies together or getting your thumbs together so just little fine details are some things that might show up.
Q: Is some of that harder to do because of someone like Odell [Beckham Jr.], going back to the one-handed catches and that spectacular is what sells. So is that something you have to combat with young players?
A: No because again in my own opinion, when the ball is thrown to you, you got to fall in love with the football. So when itís thrown to you, you got to catch the ball. Whether thatís high, low, behind me, doesnít matter: catch the football. The one handed catch, when you can make a technique catch, you overcome that by saying hey you donít need to do that. I think itís one of those things where you try to draw a fine line where you donít want to discourage a guy to making a play on the ball that might be not so perfect. That doesnít play a big part in terms of Odell [Beckham Jr.] made a one handed catch because again, if Odell [Beckham Jr.] had tried to make that one handed catch technique wise, he probably wouldnít have made it. I think the key emphasis is fall in love with the ball and catch it properly when you can and then when you canít, hey, catch the ball.
Q: When we talk tight ends we all talk Evan [Engram]. I mean, Rhett [Ellison], I mean is he your short yardage guy? Is he your extra lineman type guy?
A: I canít define his role as being the short yardage guy. Canít define Evan [Engram]ís role as just pass catching guy. I think both of those guys have redeeming qualities in the run and pass game. Their role will be defined as we continue to go along with training camp, preseason and get into the game plans. Their roles have not been defined, those roles are still to be determined.
Q: You talked a little bit about how in this game you could move Evan [Engram] outside or put him into the slot. For your position group, how much does that help when you can get two guys on the field and really have that unpredictability factor against the defense?
A: Two tight ends on the field equals big speed, right? I think whenever youíre able to Ė itís always good when you can not be predictable. When you can keep the defense off balance on run and pass, itís always great. So being able to play both tight ends at a time and be effective with it in the run game, obviously, but also to be explosive in the pass game, that really helps as an offense in general and as a team. You can do both and you can be explosive in both. You want to have the ability to be potentially explosive on every play that you run whether or not itís a run play, pass play, 11 personnel, 12 personnel, doesnít matter. The more explosive plays you have in the game, the better chance you have as a team to win.