Through 13 games, the Browns tight ends have not played a major role in the team's passing attack. They have combined for 34 receptions, 424 yards and six touchdowns, which breaks down to 2.6 catches, 32.6 yards and nearly half of a touchdown per game. On a percentage basis, tight ends have accounted for 13.3 percent of the team's 255 completions, 13.6 percent of the team's 3,109 passing yards and a solid 40 percent of the team's 15 passing scores.
That could all change this Sunday against an Arizona Cardinals defense that has struggled to stop opposing tight ends all year long. In fact, no team has allowed more passing touchdowns to tight ends than the Cardinals, who have given up 13 scores to the position. Tight ends have accumulated a ridiculous 80 receptions (third-most in the NFL) for 981 yards (most in the NFL) and the aforementioned league-high 13 touchdowns. On a per game basis, it breaks down to 6.2 receptions for 75.5 yards and one touchdown per game, which is staggering.
It should be noted that these are not cumulative stats inflated by a few monster games. Outside of last week, when the Steelers attempted only 19 passes, tight ends have consistently produced against Arizona week in and week out. A tight end has scored in 10 of the 13 games against the Cardinals, they have topped 60 yards in eight games and produced over 100 yards receiving in five games.
To say that the Arizona LB's have struggled in coverage would be a fair statement. Per Pro Football Focus, the Cardinals LB group of Jordan Hicks, Joe Walker and Haason Reddick have combined to allow 128 receptions (on 151 targets) for 1,382 yards and 10 touchdowns with a QB rating of nearly 120.
The Browns tight end room is finally back at full strength this week with David Njoku back and Demetrius Harris looking ready to return to action after missing last week. Those two along with "Stiff Arm" Stephen Carlson and the Browns leading receiver at tight end this year, Ricky Seals-Jones (a former Arizona Cardinal himself), will have many opportunities to make impactful plays on Sunday.
Look for the Browns to dial up some big plays to their tight ends, which will spark what I expect to be a prolific passing attack.
Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Cardinals Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey