Blake Jarwin finished last season with his stock at its all-time high, especially thanks to a three-touchdown explosion in the Week 17 finale. He seemed like the answer at tight end for the Cowboys, but then Jason Witten came back and created a whole new question. How can Jarwin, still very unproven, overcome Witten’s incredible legacy in this 2019 training camp?
Witten is more than just a longtime star. He’s a lock for the Ring of Honor and should be a shoe-in for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Here’s a quick refresher on Jason’s resume:
- Cowboys all-time leader in receptions
- Cowboys all-time leader in receiving yards
- 2nd all-time in receptions for NFL tight ends
- 2nd all-time in receiving yards for NFL tight ends
- 4th all-time in receptions for all NFL players
- 21st all-time in receiving yards for all NFL players
So yeah, Jason Witten is a big, freaking deal. It’d be very easy to get distracted by his surprising comeback from the broadcast booth and assume he’s walking back into his same old job.
But the harsh reality is that none of Witten’s 1,152 career catches, 12,448 yards, or 68 touchdowns are going to help the Dallas Cowboys win in 2019.
Being honest about the present in no way diminishes the past. Witten’s comeback tour is a neat story, but is he really the Cowboys’ best option at tight end for this season?
One media personality’s observation from training camp yesterday, however simple, is worth noting.
With all due respect. And again I’m saying with all due respect….there’s a big difference in the way #89 and #82 move around out here. Jarwin is moving really well.
Even if Jason Witten is recharged after a year away he’s not going to win back everything from Father Time. He will never be the same player as in his prime, and the Jason we saw in 2017 was struggling to make an impact with his decreased athleticism.
Blake Jarwin is 25 years old and in just his third season. He spent most of 2017 on the practice squad and most of 2018 stuck behind Geoff Swaim as a reserve. 2019 is his first real shot at being the primary option at tight end.
There is a lot that Witten’s experience and technique can do to help him be effective. But in the end, football has a lot do with the primal advantages of being bigger, stronger, and faster than the opposition.
Jarwin may never be what Witten was, but neither can Jason at this point. The question for 2019 is who can get closest.
One of the beautiful things about Jason’s return is his expressed willingness to be a mentor to Jarwin and the other young players. He’s declared that he’s not worried about his role and just wants to help the Cowboys win.
If Witten is a man of his word, then living up to it may involve stepping back and letting Blake Jarwin take center stage at tight end. Even if Jason knows what to do out there better than the youngster, he may simply be unable to execute the plays the way the Cowboys need.
Hopefully, Jarwin’s stock will continue to rise thanks to increased opportunity and the tutelage of a grand master. The combined efforts of Jarwin’s body and Witten’s mind will ideally elevate the TE position from where it’s been the last few years.