Ok I've been thinking about this for quite some time and finally just figured that I'd just write my first (real) fanpost about it. I believe that the Chiefs are moving in the direction of an offense based largely around a double tight end set. I have a number of reasons for thinking this, and I just wanted to start a discussion about it because I think there's some interesting possibilities for our offense in particular.
First, I want to start with a little primer / reminder. I know this information has been included in a variety of fanposts, but I wanted to run over a few key pieces of information...
Our offense utilizes the Erhardt Perkins system of offense, very similar to the one that New England has used with abundant success for years with Sire Brady at the helm. This form of offense is designed to be very simple to operate, while maximizing confusion on opposing defenses.
The system uses a basic set of plays, or concepts for the QB to use at his disposal, that are run out of different personel formations. This does two things: Simplifies playcalling and general understanding of the system by the most important player on the field (QB), and creates hesitation on the part of the defense due to the offense's ability to run any play out of (more or less) any formation. This causes defenses to think. We all know what happens when defenses think.
This style of offense is particularly effective if you have players that are... dare i say it... versatile. I know it's pretty much a cliche these days due to the overuse and sometimes negative connotations with the word in Chiefs' history, but our offense very much relies on players that are versatile. This is the reason that we always hear Todd Haley talk about wanting "complete receivers." He wants receivers that can be effectively used in the EP system. It's also the reason we saw Copper lined up in the no. two WR position for some of the games. He is actually a pretty decent blocker. I remember his name being called out in particular for a nice little move he put on Patrick Willis during the SF game.
I've also remembered seeing DBowe lay a good couple licks on some unexpecting DBs / LBs last season. At one point, Haley even targeted him as a guy that's been consistant for the team, and that was an example of why he said that.
Now, this is also the reason why the Tight End position is a special position in our offense. Tight Ends in the Erhardt Perkins offense are the Bread n' Butter position. If you get the right player, you have someone that has the ability to block like a tackle, and catch or run routes like a wide receiver. Sometimes you get a player, thankfully I can say like our very own Tony Moeaki, who seems to have the ability to do both very well.
As we all saw last year, Mr. Moeaki was very effective in this offense. He was moved around, motioned, and lined up in a variety of positions on the field, in accordance with Erhardt Perkins philosophies. It worked. He created hesitation and doubt in a lot of players he played against. That is EXACTLY what our offense is designed to do.
I believe that Todd Haley wants more of this.
When the season ended, we began to hear things about how Dexter McCluster would be used next year. Haley seemed to imply that he would line up more frequently at the running back position, and that we would use him (i'm guessing) more like a Sproles kind of player rather than a Welker sort of player.
I fully believe that Todd Haley is committed to the run. I think he and Pioli have identified Jamaal Charles as a special player in this league (as he should be), and want to figure out the best way to exploit his abilities, while maximizing his career, and ultimately their money. The best way to cultivate this sort of running game is not to line up in 3+ wide receiver sets all the time. Especially when the receiver closest to the O-line is McCluster.
I think they realize this, and it's why we will see more of Dex in the backfield next year. On the defensive side of the ball, if I see McCluster lined up in the slot, I'm probably not going into "confusion mode." It's probably going to be a pass or a draw. If it is a run, I would personally take McCluster as near dead last as WR most likely to block any form of linebacker in the NFL. If he can, great. But we can't rely on it.
Now, in his place, I would much rather put a larger body. Someone, say, like Moeaki. A guy who can still get you those receiving yards like McCluster can, but can also lay a guy out on his ass if he needed to. These type of Tight End formations add an interesting dimension to the offense. They also help us get closer to having a potent running/blocking formation and a potent passing formation on the field at the same time.
Now, I also have another reason for buying heavily into this dual-TE concept. Let's think for a second about what's going on on the other side of the ball in the NFL. As we're seeing the NFL shift towards a quarterback driven league, we're also seeing defenses putting a premium on defensive backs, but also a premium on the pass rush. But not a pass rush from just anywhere, a pass rush from the secondary. Dick Lebeau has made this kind of zone defense famous and more and more coaches are starting to move that direction. The packers also utilize a lot of secondary blitzes and zone drop type schemes and we all know how they're doing right now.
I'm not saying that the ONLY way to beat a good QB in the league today is to blitz from the secondary. But it does allow you to use your personel more creatively on defense. It also helps create confusion on the part of the most important player on the field. This sort of confusion is HIGHLY counter-productive to an EP (and let's be honest, any) system. It also makes at least myself a little more clear about why Arenas was a pick last year.
To counter this zone dropping, confusion creating system in which highly athletic players are flying towards our QB, we do not rely on our offensive line. Afterall, making Barry Richardson or Branden Albert cover a player like Arenas could potentially end in disaster in the event that the Tackle isn't fast enough for the shifty DB. Instead, we place versatile players like Tight Ends on the field. These players can be moved all around the field and place wide(r) bodies in DB pass rush lanes, giving our offense a semi-advantage over defenses on teams like New York (J), Pittsburgh, and Green Bay (who we coincidentally play within a 4 week span this coming year).
For a clear example of how this type of offense would run, we look no farther than the Patriots from this past year, sans Moss. Deion Branch, and two rookie Tight Ends made that offense run clean and smooth all year after SmallBall had it's renaissance in New England.
Now, I'm not going to make a prediction about who that player is that steps onto the field with Moeaki regularly this offseason (although Kyle Rudolph looks like he would wear Red n' Gold quite nicely), that's for smarter minds to figure out :)
But I for one will not be surprised if we do pick a guy like Rudolph instead of some other perceived need. TE is making a lot of sense right now...