Redskins tight end Jordan Reed lived in the short area of the field in his rookie 2013 season.
He was targeted 60 times (all stats via Pro Football Focus unless noted) last year and only two of those passes traveled 20 or more yards in the air. That was a pass deep down the right side in the Redskins’ opening drive against the Bears in Week 7.
It’s a good bet that we’ll see Reed running 20 yards past the line of scrimmage more often in 2013. He certainly has the speed and athletic ability to be effective rolling down the seam. It also looks like going deep to the tight end is something that coach Jay Gruden likes to do.
Last year Gruden was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati and he had a talented rookie tight end of his own in first-round draft pick Tyler Eifert (who was targeted 57 times). He also had Jermaine Gresham (70 targets), who was coming off of a Pro Bowl appearance in 2012.
Eifert and Gresham were targeted on passes of 20 yards or more a combined 13 times (Eifert 7, Gresham 6). Five of them were complete for 174 yards and a touchdown. Clearly, that’s some pretty good production out of 13 pass attempts. It would be surprising if Gruden did not utilize Reed on more deep patterns in 2014.
It should be noted that there are some discrepancies in playing time here. Due to injuries, Reed played in nine games (384 snaps). Gresham played in 14 games (909 snaps) and Eifert played in 15 (681). Still, even on a per-game, per-snap or per-target basis, both Gresham and Eifert went deep more often than did Reed.
You don’t have to be an expert at reading tea leaves to figure out that we’ll see Reed stretching the defense on a regular basis this fall.