We've discussed at length what Rob Chudzinski's effect will be on the Carolina Panthers' offense, but nowhere is this more prevalent than at the TE position. If you've been following Cat Scratch Reader for some time you'll know that personally I've been calling for a greater use of TEs for some time now. The offense under John Fox seemed like an anachronism-- on the one hand there was a reliance on running the football, but on the other a complete disregard for utilizing TEs as receivers.
This was problematic for several reasons, but the most obvious is that it telegraphed the defense far too much. Out opponents knew when TEs were on the field there was a good chance we were running the football, and if we were three-wide we'd be passing. This was further exacerbated when King and Rosario were used in tandem; Jeff King would rarely be on the field in passing downs, and Rosario rarely on rushing downs. It was nice having two tight ends with different skill sets, but it made things far too obvious.
More after the jump
When rumors first surfaced that Shockey and the Panthers may have mutual interest the overwhelming sentiment from the majority on this blog was a dislike of the idea. This ranged from concerns about his maturity, worry about his injuries, to feelings that he would stunt the development of TEs currently on the roster. Ultimately, the Panthers felt that TE was the most needed overhaul to their roster and set about securing one of the few players they could prior to the lockout.
Even considering that Shockey's performance dropped off in New Orleans, and taking into account he was sharing time with Jimmy Graham he averaged 46 receptions in each of those three seasons. To compare, Jeff King and Dante Rosario combined for 47 receptions over the last three years. When you couple this with a higher YPC than King or Rosario combined and you immediately see that getting Jeremy Shockey is a major talent upgrade at the position. Finally, when we get to DVOA there's no comparison with neither King, nor Rosario rating in the top 40, while Shockey is still a top 20 TE. It's hard for me to not say he's the best TE Carolina has had since Wesley Walls, but it's true.
In 2007 TE Kellen Winslow was never better. He finished the season with 1,106 yards and 5 TD. These numbers have not been eclipsed since, nor were they topped before. This was Winslow's solo full season with Rob Chudzinski as offensive coordinator. Similarly, Antonio Gates in San Diego dropped off in the 2008 season, yet when Chuzinski arrived, his numbers jumped to 1,157 yards. This is too similar to Winslow's performance in Cleveland to think Chudz didn't play a role in their development.
What can we expect from here?
If we look at Winslow's 1st year improvement under Chudzinski, and then Gates' 1st year improvement under Chudzinski here's what we can adequately predict for Jeremy Shockey:
70 receptions, 750 yards, 4 TD
If this is the performance we get next season from Shockey, then we'll have a much better season than most predict.