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Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Film review on Patriots TE Tim Wright

By Mike Reiss

Here are a few thoughts after a mini-film study on tight end Tim Wright after reviewing games against the New England Patriots (Week 3), Miami Dolphins (Week 10) and San Francisco 49ers (Week 15) last season:

Wright
Physical profile. Wright is listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, which makes him more of a big receiver than a traditional tight end. He played receiver at Rutgers before moving to tight end in the NFL as a rookie last season.

System adaptation. Wright came on strong late last season in coordinator Mike Sullivan's Giants-type offense -- in the Week 15 game against San Francisco one Fox television analyst opined that he was "one of the best two or three rookie tight ends in football right now" -- but he had not emerged this preseason in Jeff Tedford's offense. This will be his third offensive system in two NFL seasons. He was part of Tampa's hurry-up package, which is a big part of what the Patriots do.

Alignment and blocking. Wright aligned detached from the line in the slot, in the offensive backfield, and on the line of scrimmage, while also being used in motion at times. Regardless of where he aligned, he most often released into pass routes. Because of his size, he is not the type of tight end who will consistently be effective as an in-line blocker, but it's not for lack of effort. He does show a willingness to mix it up at times, especially at the second level (nice block on Miami LB Philip Wheeler on a 26-yard run, 12:42 remaining in first quarter). Wright seldom stayed in to block in the passing game, and if he did, it was most often what we saw on the final play of the first quarter against the Patriots -- a chip of an edge-rusher before releasing into a pass route. When he was matched up on Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones and asked to run block (13:37 remaining, second quarter) on the back side, Jones easily tossed him aside. At one point in the second quarter against the 49ers (5:40 remaining), he whiffed on a run-blocking attempt against Ahmad Brooks. So banging at the line of scrimmage isn't necessarily his game, but he was still competitive outside of a few noticeable miscues. You're not going to put him in the game with the intention of running behind him.

Route-running a strength. Wright nearly had a touchdown catch against the Patriots as he ran a solid corner route against zone coverage and flashed open in the back left-hand corner of the end zone but the ball sailed through his hands. "In the NFL, you have to make that catch," Fox analyst John Lynch said on the broadcast that day. Overall, though, Wright looks to have reliable hands. He also looks like a smooth route-runner who seems to have a feel for finding openings underneath against zone coverage, but also runs well enough to attack down the field (e.g. 24-yard touchdown catch against 49ers). He is fluid coming out of his breaks, and sets up his routes nicely. One issue is when defenders are able to get their hands on him at the line, as Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower did (2:42 remaining, first quarter) when Wright aligned with his hand in the ground next to the right tackle and it disrupted his route.

Summary. Wright gives the Patriots a different look at tight end as he's more of a "move" option, similar to what the team had with Aaron Hernandez from 2010-2012. His skill set could nicely complement Rob Gronkowski and help create more matchup problems for defenses. He's still growing into the position.