Buffalo Bills: Scott Chandler Getting No NFL Respect
Traditionally a hybrid of offensive line and wide receiver, the tight end was usually used as a release valve in the passing game, a third or fourth option when protection breaks down or receivers are covered downfield, and as support in run and pass blocking.
Sure, there were some physical specimens making big plays along the way (Shannon Sharpe -10,060 yds, 62 TDs; Tony Gonzalez -12,053 yds, 83 TDs).
But it wasn’t until last year that tight ends got the universal love they deserved as potent offensive weapons.
There was, of course, Rob Gronkowski, who became the darling superstar of the NFL last season by shattering tight end records in TD receptions (17, he led the league in all of 2011), total TDs (18), and yards in a season (1327).
Listening to some, Rob’s already a shoe-in for Canton (I’ll wait until his body of work gets a little larger).
His performance was so fantastic, he eclipsed fellow standouts at the position in 2011, including teammate Aaron Hernandez, the 49ers' Vernon Davis (who was their sole receiving weapon in the playoffs, following “The Grab” to beat the Saints by almost single-handedly taking out the Giants with a 112-yard performance on three receptions with two touchdowns, only to lose in OT), and the ever popular Antonio Gates (who missed the first five games and still registered 778 yards and 7 TDs).
However, looking down the list of the top tight ends in the NFL coming into 2012, it seems no one has been eclipsed quite so much as Buffalo’s Scott Chandler.
Talk about selling a player short, Chandler is currently ranked 24thamong tight ends on ESPN.com’s fantasy football board. Go to NFL.com and you won’t find his name in the top 25 of any of the five fantasy analyst’s tight end rankings (including Matt “Money” Smith’s… who, in addition to really liking alliteration, also looks startlingly like William H. Macy).
It’s too bad too, as this could really be a breakout year for the Iowa alum who spent the first five of his six NFL seasons getting waived and cut off mostly practice squads in San Diego, New York, and Dallas (he was twice let go by Dallas, actually).
The last time the Cowboys dropped him in 2010, Buffalo snatched him up and the 2011 season began with Chandler scoring 2 TDs on a 63-yard day (five receptions) in what was really his first NFL game against Kansas City (his only other time on the field was at the end of 2010).
Over the course of 2011, a guy who had no NFL stats in five years previous amassed 389 yards (ranked 4th in Buffalo) and 6 TDs (2nd), including another two touchdown game against Washington and a second five catch game at Miami (averaging 14.2 per reception and a career high 71 yards).
Though he missed two games due to an ankle injury towards the end of the year, Chandler still finished as one of the most vital members of Buffalo’s pass attack and a part of that new species of NFL tight end, combining a big body (6’7”, 260 pounds) with the speed (4.78 40-yard dash) and sure hands of a receiver.
Chandler’s already making his presence known in 2012, standing out as perhaps the second best receiver on the team behind Steve Johnson. In his first preseason outing, Scott grabbed two monster balls against Washington, the first of which was the offensive high of the day for Buffalo, a 26-yard leaping grab over the helmets of two defenders across the middle.