The tight end spot of the Green Bay Packers may be viewed as a weakness to outsiders, but to others such as quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers aren’t in such a bad spot.
And one reason why Rodgers is feeling that way has been the noticeable “jump” he said fifth-year tight end Andrew Quarless has taken this offseason.
“Andrew Quarless has had a great offseason,” the quarterback said. “I think he’s really, something clicked in for him at the end of last year and he’s been taking the jump.”
Quarless, who started and split time with rookie Richard Rodgers a season ago, caught 29 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns, including the game winning touchdown against Miami.
Those numbers may not be jaw dropping, but it was his second straight season with at least at least 29 receptions and the third time in his career with at least 21. Quarless may not be a superstar but he has proven to be a solid contributor and if he can take his game to another level, then the Packers may be set at tight end for now.
Quarless came into the league as more of a pass catching tight end and can excel in that role, but the former Penn St alum also has the ability to split wide as a receiver as he did against Miami on the winning touchdown. Yet, his blocking has also greatly improved and with the Packers focusing more on running the ball with Eddie Lacy, they value a tight end that can run block effectively, which has helped Quarless earn his keep the past two seasons.
Rodgers, who played well down the stretch last season, catching key touchdowns in the victories over Detroit in Week 17 and the NFC divisional playoff game against Dallas, finished the regular season with 20 for 225 yards and two touchdowns.
So combined, Quarless and Rodgers caught 49 passes for 548 yards and five touchdowns. Those numbers aren’t great, not even for one tight end. But with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams the throw too, along with Lacy running the ball, the opportunity to get the ball to the tight end decreases.
The Packers still had the NFL’s best offense a season ago and with the development of Adams and Richard Rodgers, plus some increased production from Quarless and it could be even better.
And while Quarless may not beat out Rodgers, his offseason shows he is still hungry to get better and as he enters his sixth season and a contract year, he needs to be.
One thing for sure is that the Packers can win with Rodgers and Quarless and regardless of what happens, Quarless will be a big key for Green Bay at tight end in the 2015 season — just ask Aaron Rodgers.