Many are expecting new starting tight end, Blake Jarwin, to have a breakout season in Dallas’ 2020 offense. But given Mike McCarthy’s history with the TE position in Green Bay, could the Cowboys’ new head coach end up holding Jarwin back?
McCarthy’s Packers typically had great offenses with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. Everyone knew who Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, and other Green Bay receivers were. If one of them ever got hurt, fantasy players were scrambling to grab their backup off the waiver wire.
But generally speaking, even when Rodgers was putting up big numbers in the passing game, the tight end position wasn’t a big part of that production.
What’s especially concerning is that Green Bay usually didn’t lack for talent at the position. Guys who’ve been to Pro Bowls with other teams like Martellus Bennett, Jared Cook, and Jimmy Graham didn’t have the same impact as Packers.
From 2014-2018, McCarthy’s last five years in Green Bay, here were the top performers from the TE position:
- 2018: Jimmy Graham (55 rec, 636 yds, 2 TDs)
- 2017: Martellus Bennett (24 rec, 233 yds, 0 TDs in 7 games)
- 2016: Jared Cook (30 rec, 377 yds, 1 TD in 10 games)
- 2015: Richard Rodgers (58 rec, 510 yds, 8 TDs)
- 2014: Andrew Quarless (29 rec, 323 yds, 3 TDs)
Of course, a lot of this has to do with Aaron Rodgers’ personality and playing style at quarterback. He seems more focused on getting to the ball to his wide receivers and treating the tight ends and fallback options.
Rodgers also likes to spread it around a bit. For example, in 2014 the stats between Quarless and Richard Rodgers were almost identical. So the TE position was fairly productive overall but not giving anyone much individual glory.
That’s not what we’re hoping for from Blake Jarwin in 2020. With those Witten-sized shoes to fill, Jarwin is up against big expectations after a few years of being hyped up. Without Jason or even Geoff Swaim now in his way, Blake could even make the Pro Bowl if he puts up the projected stats in Dallas’ offense.
Dak Prescott isn’t Aaron Rodgers, so he may look to his tight ends more often as receiving targets. But he also has Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Ceedee Lamb, Ezekiel Elliott, and Tony Pollard to service, and he now has Rodgers’ old coach as a new influence.
The combination of Prescott, McCarthy, and Kellen Moore could mean very different things for the TE position than what McCarthy and Rodgers were doing in Green Bay. We know how much control Aaron exerted over the offense and that he was doing his relationship with McCarthy deteriorated in those later years.
But still, the stats are a little concerning. There were seasons that the TE in McCarthy’s offense was only the 5th-highest producer among all possible receiving targets. That would be a disappointing outcome for some Blake Jarwin supporters.
One of the interesting things to track with the 2020 Cowboys will be how much Mike McCarthy’s trend from Green Bay actually carry over. How much was really influenced by him as opposed to Aaron Rodgers?
How Blake Jarwin produces this year as Dallas’ starting TE will be one of those telling factors. If McCarthy’s arrival does lead to more focus on the wide receivers, that breakout season we’re all hoping for may not be realistic.