NFL Nation: Bo Scaife

Bengals sign tight end Bo Scaife

August, 5, 2011
The Cincinnati Bengals signed tight end Bo Scaife, the team announced Friday. Scaife, a seven-year veteran, will serve as the backup to 2010 first-round pick Jermaine Gresham.

Scaife had a productive stint with the Tennessee Titans. From 2005-10, he averaged 41.9 receptions per season. Scaife caught 36 passes for 318 yards last year.

Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is installing a new West Coast offense, which is big on multiple receivers and multiple tight-end sets. Pairing Scaife with Gresham gives the Bengals more options and another security blanket for rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.
In general, we expect too much from late-round picks. (And from overall draft batting averages.)

In a recent conversation with former Denver general manager Ted Sundquist, he pointed to an article he once read in Ourlads by Joe Landers. Apologies, I couldn’t find the link.

“Using some common sense and a little investigative research, you'll find that it's rare, at least according to Landers’ study, to find a cornerback or running back or wide receiver that's really going to help you in the last three rounds,” Sundquist said. “And yet you'll find teams constantly take a reach on one of these positions.

“Evidence shows you're more likely to find a defensive tackle, offensive lineman, safety or tight end in the later rounds. Why? Most conventional wisdom says don't draft a safety or tight end high due to escalating rookie salaries and the going market at the position. As for defensive tackles or offensive linemen, it’s probably because of the greater numbers at the position. Both circumstances force down talented players at those positions.”

I went back and combed over the AFC South drafts since 2002, to see how many picks they spent on each side of the ledger Sundquist sets forth and how often the Colts, Jaguars, Texans and Titans did well with a fifth-, sixth- or seventh-round pick at those spots. This is, of course, highly unscientific. Metrics guys can probably shred it. But I thought it worth fiddling with.

Notables are players who played significantly, even if it’s been with another team, or recent picks who appear on track to contribute.

Houston Texans

WRs, RBs. CBs: 9

DTs, OL, S, TEs: 14

Most: Six safeties, four receivers, corners and defensive tackle

Notables: Colts

WRs, RBs. CBs: 7

DTs, OL, S, TEs: 13

Most: 13 offensive linemen

Notables: Jaguars

WRs, RBs. CBs: 12

DTs, OL, S, TEs: 9

Most: Five receivers, four offensive linemen

Notables: Titans

WRs, RBs. CBs: 14

DTs, OL, S, TEs: 16

Most: Seven offensive linemen, six wide receivers

Of the notables from the division drafted since 2002, 73 percent (19) have been from the positions Sundquist says teams should concentrate on late while 27 percent (seven) play positions he believes should generally be avoided.

I'd be fine with the Titans not wasting yet another late pick on a receiver and with the Texans using late-rounders on something other than corners and receivers for sure. But it's not like Houston's spending late picks on safeties or the Colts use of such selections on offensive linemen have paid huge dividends either.

I'd love to read your thoughts.
Our ongoing discussion on tight ends raised questions about which ones possess the best -- and worst -- hands.

"Any way you can add in 'thrown to' and 'drops' in this stat?" Furfanam asked in one comments section.

Consider it done.

Jason Vida of ESPN Stats & Information produced the information. I've broken it out in four charts. A few notes on the findings:
The first chart ranks NFL tight ends by most receptions. It also shows number of targets, drops and drop percentage. Witten, Jacob Tamme and Gates were the only tight ends with at least 50 receptions and no more than two dropped passes.

The second chart shows lowest drop percentages among tight ends targeted at least 20 times last season. Miller's standing atop the list backs up James Walker's contention that the Pittsburgh Steelers tight end was underrated in our power rankings.

The third chart ranks NFL tight ends with at least 20 targets by the highest percentage of dropped passes.

ESPN Stats & Information's totals on Bajema matched my charting. I had Bajema dropping passes against Tennessee, Denver and Arizona.

The final chart focuses only on NFC West tight ends, ranking them by lowest percentage of dropped passes.

Rapid Reaction: Colts 30, Titans 28

December, 9, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thoughts on the Colts' 30-28 win over the Titans at LP Field.

What it means: The Colts are 7-6 and will win the division if they win their final three games. The Titans are 5-8, lost their sixth in a row and can finish .500 at best.

What I liked: While Peyton Manning still made some poor throws, none of them were killer and none of them were intercepted. Against a bad team, he got back to form with 319 yards and two touchdown passes. The Colts showed some determination to run despite missing their two best backs. Javarris James scored on a 1-yard run and converted a fourth-and-4 with an 11-yard run.

Streak-buster: After 14 quarters without an offensive touchdown, the Titans got a 1-yard scoring run from Chris Johnson at the end of the second quarter and a 7-yard catch-and-lunge for a score by Craig Stevens on the opening possession of the third quarter. They went crazy with a couple Bo Scaife TD catches in the fourth.

Injury concern: Colts left tackle Charlie Johnson suffered a shoulder injury and didn’t return to action, with undrafted rookie Jeff Linkenbach taking over.

Hot topic: The Titans showed a lot more life than they did last Sunday in a loss to Jacksonville, but that won’t quiet the chatter in Nashville about Jeff Fisher's future with the franchise.

What’s next: The Colts host the Jaguars in a crucial division rematch. Tennessee hosts Houston, which will be on short rest following a Monday night game against Baltimore.

Rapid Reaction: Jaguars 17, Titans 6

December, 5, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thoughts from the Jaguars’ 17-6 win against the Titans at LP Field:

What it means: Jacksonville’s atop the AFC South at 7-5 awaiting Indianapolis’ result against Dallas. The Jaguars hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Colts. The Jaguars have matched last season’s win total. The Titans are 5-7, in last in the division based on a head-to-head result with Houston.

What I liked, Jaguars: They came out hell bent on running it and got success right from the start with a nice combination of Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings. Jacksonville ran it 53 times for 258 yards, with Jones-Drew stiff-arming Michael Griffin out of relevance on a 37-yard scamper on his last touch. The Jaguars made the Titans appear tired and worn down from the start.

What I didn’t like, Titans: Big drops from Bo Scaife (twice) Randy Moss and Nate Washington. Scaife had one near the goal line that really could have changed the complexion of the game and given the Titans a chance. The defense tackled at an unacceptable level.

Opposite directions: The Titans won in Jacksonville on Oct. 18 by a 30-3 score. The scoreboard makes this one seem closer, but it had the same blowout feel very early.

Injury of note: The Jaguars lost safety Courtney Greene early to a shoulder injury that did not look good. He was out of pads in a hurry and in significant pain. Sean Considine replaced him.

What’s next: The Jaguars host the Oakland Raiders at EverBank Field. The Titans have a quick turnaround for a Thursday night matchup with Indianapolis.

Halftime thoughts on Titans-Texans

November, 28, 2010
HOUSTON -- Halftime thoughts from Reliant Stadium where the Texans are dominating the Titans and have a 14-0 lead:
  • The Texans are winning time of possession 20:03 to 9:57 and have 15 first downs to two for Tennessee.
  • The Titans needed good offensive line play from the start to give rookie Rusty Smith a chance. They undid him in the first series, allowing a sack by Mario Williams and enduring a false start by Michael Roos. Then they watched Justin Gage drop a good third-down pass. Later, Nate Washington had an alligator arms drop and Bo Scaife was unable to haul in a ball that was a touch long but that he got his hands on.
  • The Texans benched Brice McCain, who’s been in their nickel package most of the season, playing outside in three-corner sets. Jason Allen has covered Randy Moss with Kareem Jackson coming in as the third DB as Glover Quin moved inside like usual.
  • Houston’s gotten some yards with short stuff over the middle to Andre Johnson, who gains a crossing route edge on Cortland Finnegan and finds space near Stephen Tulloch.
  • The Titans’ run game is all out of whack, and hasn’t helped in time of possession where the Texans are winning big. While Arian Foster has 12 carries for 51 yards and backup Derrick Ward has four for 34, Chris Johnson has three carries for 2 yards, with backup Javon Ringer getting two carries for 10.
  • The Texans continue to use Joel Dreessen well. The Titans continue to fail to cover tight ends closely. He was wide open in the back middle of the end zone on his 1-yard touchdown reception.
  • Matt Schaub made a bad decision on the last play of the half, but Eric Winston bailed him out with a giant fumble recovery.

For in-game nuggets, follow me on Twitter here.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

November, 17, 2010
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


1. The Titans' second-half adjustment and the Texans out of the gate: In the Titans’ last two games, losses at San Diego and Miami, the Titans have been outscored 39-14 in the second half. They are getting outplayed and outcoached after intermission and need to do better adjusting. The Texans, meanwhile, have fared poorly from the start in two of their last three games. They trailed both Jacksonville and Indianapolis 17-3 at the half.

Jacoby Jones
AP Photo/Eric GayReceiver Jacoby Jones has yet to show he can be a solid option at No. 2 for the Texans.
2. Jacoby Jones, Texans receiver: He was supposed to challenge Kevin Walter for the No. 2 slot and be an explosive piece of the offense. But he had one catch for five yards in Jacksonville. His 25 catches have produced an average of 9.7 yards, same as running back Arian Foster. Last year that average was 16.2. And according to ESPN Stats & Info, he’s got four drops in 38 targets.

3. Bo Scaife, Titans tight end: His early fumble in the Titans’ end set up the Dolphins offense and got a bad day started. He also had a drop. Kerry Collins and Vince Young threw to him nine times and his six catches gained just 51 yards. It’s not his fault they are throwing short stuff to him, but he didn’t feel like a threat with the ball in his hands. Surely on some of these plays Jared Cook could offer a more dangerous change up, no?


1. Role playing tight ends: We’re heard a lot about the contributions they could make, but we’re finally seeing something out of Houston’s James Casey and Jacksonville’s Zach Miller. Casey’s caught five passes for 66 yards in the Texans’ last two games. And Miller had four catches for 79 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown in the win over the Texans.

2. The Colts’ health: I’m being a bit presumptuous here. But Joseph Addai said last week he was targeting the New England game. And in their weekly Tuesday announcement, the Colts ruled out only Bob Sanders. That means of a big group who didn’t play against the Bengals, there is a chance for guys like Austin Collie, Clint Session, Gary Brackett, Justin Tryon and Mike Hart to be back. The team hopes for many happy returns in New England.

3. Andre Johnson, Texans receiver: He’s topped 100 yards in three of his last four games. While his ankle may still qualify as an issue, he’s certainly found a way to play and play effectively with it. And the Texans and Matt Schaub need to keep feeding him. With Johnson and Arian Foster, the Texans have to find an offensive rhythm and score big knowing the defense won’t do a lot.

Anemic in first half, Collins now hurt

November, 14, 2010
MIAMI -- We’re not judging the Titans' acquisition of Randy Moss on a half of football.

But if we were, it gets a low grade.

The Titans have thrown to him three times and he doesn’t have a catch.

Tennessee is knotted at 10-10 with the Dolphins at the half and has done some good things. But it seems intent on throwing screens and finding stuff underneath. The Titans needed more than a deep incompletion from Kerry Collins for Nate Washington on their first play to create room for such things.

Bo Scaife has a lost fumble, a drop and a reception that ended with a crushing pop from Karlos Dansby. The passing game has been thoroughly ineffective.

Collins has a bad finger he’s been playing through, which seems to be affecting him. He is 9-of-20 for 51 yards. And on the final play of the half, when Moss was wide open to his right and he threw for Justin Gage on the left, the veteran quarterback was hurt. It looked like a left ankle injury.

He was the last off the field for the Titans at the half, limping very badly and walking with a trainer.

Will Vince Young, out with an ankle injury, be able to step in and tough it out if the Titans need him?

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

October, 27, 2010
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


1. The Jaguars’ run defense: Jacksonville got gashed by the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium and in yielding 236 yards, a 5.6-yard average and three rushing touchdowns, the Jaguars dropped six spots in the league ratings to 25th. On a day when only 13 passes were completed against the Jaguars, 28 of their 65 tackles were credited by game-day statisticians to defensive backs.

2. Colts kickoff coverage: Pat McAfee has been good for nearly two kickoff touchbacks a game and consistently puts the ball deep. The team’s substitute punter, Jeremy Kapinos, punted in 20 games for Green Bay in 2008-09 and one for the Jets in 2007, but doesn’t look to be a kickoff guy. Odds are Adam Vinatieri kicks off to Steve Slaton or Jacoby Jones. Vinatieri’s short kickoffs were a reason McAfee was so attractive to the Colts in the 2009 draft. The Colts are currently 19th in the league defending kick returns.

3. Titans’ tight ends: Bo Scaife was played against Philadelphia with a groin injury. But in the team’s last seven-plus quarters, when Kerry Collins has been the quarterback, Tennessee has seen six connections on 13 passes aimed for the tight end for 32 yards, with a long of 12 and a 2-yard Collins-to-Scaife connection in Jacksonville. More balls to receivers is generally a good thing for the Titans, but Jared Cook still not earning chances isn't


[+] EnlargeKevin Bentley
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertKevin Bentley will start at Brian Cushing's strong side linebacker spot.
1. Damian Williams, Titans receiver: He’s jumped Lavelle Hawkins, who the Titans spent the offseason hyping, and been a reliable target for Collins the last two weeks. I believe he should remain in the top three even if Justin Gage is recovered from a hamstring injury. Williams lost out to Marc Mariani in the return jobs competition. But when the Titans drafted him in the third round they said they thought he could develop into an eventual No. 1 and they’d be wise to let him get some chances.

2. Kevin Bentley, Texans linebacker: Bentley is coming off knee surgery while Xavier Adibi’s had a hamstring injury. Perhaps Bentley is just healed up better, but he’s gotten the nod over Adibi, at least initially, to take over Brian Cushing's strong side linebacker spot. Cushing is moving to middle linebacker for the remainder of the season to replace the injured DeMeco Ryans.

3. Jacob Tamme, Colts tight end: A big opportunity has arrived for Tamme, who’s been used infrequently on offense in his three seasons. He’s now listed as the starter for the Colts in the spot typically occupied by Dallas Clark, who’s finished for the season with a wrist injury. Tamme is fast and has good hands, but we don’t know how polished he is running routes or finding seams. Odds are we find out Monday night.

Thoughts on Panthers 15, Titans 7

August, 29, 2010
Some bullet-point thoughts on the Titans’ 15-7 preseason loss at Carolina on Saturday night.

  • Chris Johnson found virtually no room with 10 yards on eight carries. The Titans have zero doubt that he will be himself once the games have meaning and they are game planning. But a better performance would still be a bit reassuring.
  • Vince Young fumbled early when he got hit after a pump fake. Guard Jake Scott saved him with a recovery. This comes after he dribbled the ball off his chest -- which he recovered -- after a pump fake in the Titans win over the Arizona Cardinals last week.
  • Carolina rushed the passer very well and the Titans were ineffective at getting in the way. Young was sacked four times and took a couple other note-worthy hits.
  • Damian Williams did not do much on three return chances and fumbled as he took a big hit at the end of the final one. The Titans have played three games, he’s played two and I am sure they’d like to have a better feeling about him in game action to this point.
  • One third-down conversion for the first team offense in the first half.
  • Left tackle Michael Roos left ahead of schedule with what the team said was a mild right knee strain. With Mike Otto recovering from a knee scope, Troy Kropog replaced Roos.
NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

With a lot of veterans gone, who will emerge as the Titans' leaders?

It’s been out with the old and in with the new for the Titans, which creates a lot of leadership questions for me.

[+] EnlargeAhmard Hall
Tom Hauck/Getty ImagesAhmard Hall is a likely candidate to help fill the leadership void in Nashville.
Jeff Fisher has said he’s not concerned. He's confident that leadership will emerge from a locker room he likes.

But look at the group that’s gone: Kyle Vanden Bosch, Keith Bulluck, Kevin Mawae and Alge Crumpler.

That’s a ton of veteran leadership. Young players regularly watched and followed those guys, who were proven over time.

There are fewer remaining candidates who are qualified to say “follow me” now.

Vince Young has said he intends to do more, and the quarterback certainly has to be among the top leaders. Chris Johnson's production makes him a leader too, except he’s not around because he’s upset about his contract.

Ahmard Hall, the Marine who’s the fullback, has an excellent work ethic and can be a spokesperson for the offense. Bo Scaife has said he wants to assume Bulluck’s mantle. The offensive line, for the first time I can remember, lacks a thoughtful veteran who can speak on all subjects and be a resource to everyone.

Defensively, Chris Hope can take on more of a leadership role, but only if his play gets back to standards. Cortland Finnegan is a guy people will follow, but he still has some maturing to do. He can get overly fired up in response to criticism. I look for the talkative and spunky linebacker Gerald McRath to be a guy who will develop a following.

None of them can force it -- they have to let it come. It’s kind of a complicated thing to develop and it has to happen naturally. So leadership will be a big story we monitor with this team this season.

Cook progress vital for Titans

March, 18, 2010
Jared CookAP Photo/David RichardBecoming more consistent is important for Jared Cook if the tight end plans on being more involved in the Tennessee Titans' offense.
If there is a bigger X factor on offense in the AFC South for 2010 than Titans tight end Jared Cook, I’m not sure who he’d be.

As a rookie, Cook dazzled us with his post-draft, training camp and preseason work. His height, speed and athleticism made him look to be an impossible matchup as a route runner. He looked like he would plug in and be the team’s second most dynamic offensive weapon, behind only Chris Johnson.

Then he suffered an ankle sprain and disappeared. Tennessee got nine catches for 74 yards out of him in 14 games, and the word out of team headquarters was his confidence plummeted and he did nothing to force the Titans to get him on the field.

“He needs to become much more consistent week to week if he’s going to play for us,” offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger said this week. “He has to be more consistent in everything before he can play.”

And how much do you need to know what a consistent Jared Cook can bring?

“Oh, a tremendous amount,” Heimerdinger said. “Hell, I don’t even know who our team is besides C.J.”

It’s unsurprising that a gruff coach like Heimerdinger would be unenthusiastic about his group in March as he prepares to prod them into improving and sets about refining the schemes in which people are deployed.

But Cook has the potential to make Heimerdinger a happier man. He also has the potential to make the Titans look bad. They traded their second-round pick this season, No. 48 overall, to New England in order to snare Cook with an extra third-rounder, No. 89, last year.

And Tennessee has a lot of needs, so a lot of people, Cook included, will be acutely conscious of how the trade will ultimately measure out. Some want to jump the gun and judge Cook a failure after one season, but it’s far too early for such conclusions.

“I’m aware,” Cook said. “I know I just have to do what I do best. Definitely it’s a chip on my shoulder, so as long as I put in hard work, everything is going to be all right.”

(Read full post)

Scaife signs his monster tender

March, 16, 2010
I first learned through ESPN's Adam Schefter that Bo Scaife had signed his $4,908,200 restricted free-agent tender.

That’s a 10 percent raise for Scaife on what he made in 2009, when the Titans franchised him to prevent him from hitting the market as an unrestricted free agent -- and an excellent salary for him. The last year of the CBA changed the parameters for free agency and Scaife moved backward, to restricted status.

I am sure he’d rather have a long-term deal, with the Titans or someone else, but I’m not sure he’d get the sort of contract that would line up with the salaries of 2009 and 2010. After this year he will have made over $9.3 million in two seasons, more than I imagine he could have made in the first two years of a free-agent deal last year.

To me, Scaife’s not as dynamic as he was earlier in his career. But he’s still a valuable cog, especially with Vince Young at quarterback. Jared Cook is unproven, Craig Stevens is a blocking tight end and Alge Crumpler remains unrestricted.

I’m planning to write more about the Titans at tight end later this week, so please stay tuned.

The Scaife question

March, 4, 2010
Because he was a franchise player last year when the Titans kept him from reaching unrestricted free agency, Bo Scaife's tender offer as a restricted free agent now has to be 110 percent of his old salary.

That means his tender is for a one-year deal worth nearly $4.9 million.

The question, first raised by Brian Carrico on my Facebook page is: Why would the Titans only put a first-round tender on Scaife with that money when they could have put a first- and third-round designation on him at the same price.

With the tender he got, if he signs an offer sheet with another team, the Titans would have the right to match it, or get a first-rounder in exchange for allowing him to go. For the same price, they could have made it a first- and third-round pick.

So why didn’t they?

I come up with three answers:

  • A first-round pick on a guy who will be looking for more that $5 million probably seemed like a sufficient deterrent.
  • If you put a first and a third on him, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, could use that valuation in any negotiations on a long-term deal.
  • While I doubt Scaife will be pursued by another team, putting only a first-rounder on him might send a signal that if you’re willing to part with a second-rounder for him in a trade, the Titans would answer the phone to discuss it.

AFC South: Free-agency primer

March, 4, 2010
Houston Texans

Potential unrestricted free agents: CB Dunta Robinson, WR Kevin Walter, RB Chris Brown, DT Jeff Zgonina, G Chester Pitts, S Brian Russell, S Nick Ferguson, LS Bryan Pittman, LB Chaun Thompson, QB Rex Grossman, LB Khary Campbell, G Tutan Reyes, T Ephraim Salaam, P Matt Turk.

Potential restricted free agents: DL Tim Bulman, S John Busing, OT Rashad Butler, TE Owen Daniels, RB Ryan Moats, S Bernard Pollard, LB DeMeco Ryans, G Chris White.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: I don’t think the Texans will jump out and make any monumental moves. But by deciding not to tag Robinson they created another hole and saved themselves big dollars. With needs at corner, running back, free safety, interior offensive line and defensive tackle they may have more than they can address in one draft. That means they could jump out for one significant free agent – like they did last year with defensive lineman Antonio Smith -- and maybe another less expensive one or two.

Indianapolis Colts

Potential unrestricted free agents: MLB Gary Brackett, K Matt Stover.

Potential restricted free agents: WR Hank Baskett, S Antoine Bethea, S Melvin Bullitt, OL Dan Federkeil, CB Aaron Francisco, LB Tyjuan Hagler, CB Marlin Jackson, CB Tim Jennings, DT Antonio Johnson, OT Charlie Johnson, LB Freddy Keiaho, DT Dan Muir, CBPR T.J. Rushing.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: Brackett is priority one and the team has indicated a plan to pay him as an upper-echelon guy. The restricted list includes a lot of key guys who will remain big factors next year. Indy is not a team that looks to bring in many outsiders for big roles and it won’t start now. Bill Polian’s said the Colts will sit back and see how things unfold in the new capless landscape.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Potential unrestricted free agents: DE Reggie Hayward, G Kynan Forney.

Potential restricted free agents: DT Atiyyah Ellison, LB Clint Ingram, DL Greg Peterson.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Jaguars are draft-reliant, but will also shop for bargains in free agency, hoping to plug a couple holes with high-character guys with upside who fit what they are doing. As for a big splash, it’s unlikely based on their recent busts with big-name free agents like Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence and the direction they’ve moved since.

Tennessee Titans

Potential unrestricted free agents: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, C Kevin Mawae, LB Keith Bulluck, TE Alge Crumpler, CB Nick Harper, CB Rod Hood, DE Jevon Kearse, S Kevin Kaesviharn.

Potential restricted free agents: DE Dave Ball, DT Tony Brown, TE Bo Scaife, LB Stephen Tulloch, DT Kevin Vickerson, RB LenDale White.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Titans will undergo a youth movement, especially on defense where Vanden Bosch and Bulluck, who’s recovering from ACL repair, are going to be allowed to walk. Mawae been told his only chance to return is as a backup at a backup price. Brown, Scaife and Tulloch are important guys they’ll want to retain. Beyond that, expect mostly bargain shopping.