So, it was mentioned in the "Pats need a TE" thread about the Patriots possibly misusing/under-utilizing their Tight Ends, specifically Watson, and the question was asked about close that is actually being true. I've been crunching the numbers for the last couple of hours (with my tea/dinner/whatever you guys call it in the States included), and this is what I've come up with in regards to Big Ben (the most used of the NE TE's, not by much granted, 74 snaps). Stats are regular season only by the way: He took in 784 total snaps, with 383 snaps as a pass catcher. During these 383 snaps, he was targeted just 40 times. He hauled in 29 of those catches. So that's 49% of the time he was running routes, 51% of the time he was back in blocking. When he was running a route, he was targeted just 10% of the time. The next thing you'll see are the numbers for basically the top 10 pass-catching TE's from 2009 (minus the vastly under-rated Zach Miller, plus the vastly under-rated Todd Heap). The numbers in order are - total snaps, snaps running a route, targets, catches, percentage of snaps as a pass catcher, percentage of targets to route running. I'll repost Ben's at the bottom as a reminder..... Jason Witten - 1088 - 543 - 121 - 94 - 50% - 22% *Dallas Clark - 996 - 524 - 129 - 100 - 53% - 25% Antonio Gates - 848 - 489 - 110 - 79 - 58% - 22% Tony Gonzalez - 971 - 547 - 125 - 83 - 56% - 23% Brent Celek - 909 - 454 - 106 - 76 - 50% - 23% Vernon Davis - 1001 - 540 - 116 - 78 - 54% - 21% Kellen Winslow - 877 - 537 - 117 - 77 - 61% - 22% Todd Heap - 983 - 446 - 72 - 53 - 45% - 16% Heath Miller - 1064 - 513 - 92 - 76 - 48% - 18% Ben Watson - 784 - 383 - 40 - 29 - 49% - 10% * = Didn't complete 16 games, making his figures all the more remarkable. ____________________________________________________ So, what does that tell us? In comparison to the top pass-catching TE's in the league, he's not being used as much as a pass catcher, although the difference isn't huge (it is enough to warrant some thought however).....the real thought provoking figures however are the amount of times he's actually targeted in comparison to his number of 'routes'. Just 40 targets all year long. 1 route in 10 he is targeted. That's one third (33%) of the targets for Jason Witten, despite having 71% of his amount of 'routes'. The targets figure drops slightly to 31% in comparison to Dallas Clark (the best true pass catching TE in the league IMO), whilst the routes figure rises slightly to 73%. Here they are in full: Witten - Targets; 33% - Routes; 71% Clark - Targets; 31% - Routes; 73% Gates - Targets; 36% - Routes; 78% Gonzo - Targets; 32% - Routes; 70% Celek - Targets; 38% - Routes; 84% Davis - Targets; 34% - Routes; 71% KII - Targets; 34% - Routes; 71% Heap - Targets; 56% - Routes; 86% Miller - Targets; 43% - Routes; 75% Pretty damning really. He's not even being used as much as two guys seen as good all round TE's, but hardly seen as great pass catchers. You can't even say Ben's not being targeted because of dropped passes/coverage - he caught 73% of the balls that went his way last year. Par for the course in comparison to the rest. So, to sum up - Ben is running enough routes to warrant more targets and receptions, although not as many as the 'top' TE's, but either: He's running a shed load of dummy routes for whatever reason; He's not getting open enough; Brady is simply looking away from him for whatever reason. If the Pats insist on the position being used in this way for the foreseeable future, then the system simply doesn't warrant the use of a specialist pass-catching TE, and we're better off with TE's that can block well first and foremost, and catch balls, not quite as an after-thought, but it being a secondary attribute to their blocking abilities. It has to if the team either can't or won't include a 6'3", 255lb guy that runs a 4.5 40 in it's offensive game-plans.