What Does A Tight End Do In Football? Explained

By vIQtory

Football’s tight end position is one of the most important positions in the modern-day offense. They are required to have a unique skill set to do multiple tasks. What does a tight end do in football?

Tight Ends (TE) are versatile players who excel at both blocking and receiving. Their main jobs are to be a run blocker on run plays, and a pass catcher on pass plays. Tight ends are a hybrid between an offensive lineman and a wide receiver.

This article will show you all the different varieties of tight ends and how they’re used in common offensive schemes.

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Tight Ends In Football

There are several types of tight ends in football. Each tight end is unique to the scheme they play in. Coaches have a variety of tight ends that fit their style of both passing and running attacks.

To run dominant teams, they may have to block tight ends. Pass-heavy teams will have strictly pass-catching tight ends or H-backs in their system.

The tight end position mixes an offensive lineman and a wide receiver. This player is often smaller than an offensive lineman but can catch the football and is athletic like a wide receiver.

These players are scarce in football. They often cause mismatch nightmares for the defense as linebackers are too slow to cover them in man-to-man coverage.

Blocking Tight Ends

The first and most common type of tight end is the blocking tight end. This player is common in power schemes and short-yardage situations. Coaches will often use blocking tight ends to get another blocker on the field.

Blocking tight ends are often bigger, stalkier players who don’t necessarily move that well, but they block very well. These players are often included in running sets where they need extra support to block defensive ends or linebackers.

In the ’70s and ’80s, blocking tight ends was the most common type of tight end in the NFL. This player often has his hand in the ground and is ready to be physical at the point of attack.

Blocking tight ends will often catch 1, maybe two passes in a game. Again, it depends on how often the run-blocking tight end catches the football on the offensive coaches’ system.

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Pass-Catching Tight Ends

Pass-catching tight ends are more common in today’s game. Players like Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and George Kittle are among the best tight ends. These players are known as pass-catching tight ends.

Pass-catching tight ends lean more toward the athletic, pass-catching skill set than the run blocking skill set. That is not to say they can’t block. Those three players named above are extremely good at blocking.

First revolutionized by Kellen Winslow, the pass-catching tight end didn’t exist in the early forms of football – only run-blocking tight ends. It wasn’t until the Air Coryell that bigger, more athletic tight ends started to appear in the football game.

Why Use a Tight End In Football?

Tight end in football

Pass-catching tight ends can be a matchup nightmare for the defense. It all comes down to personnel matchups.

For example, a player like Travis Kelce is 6’5. Not only is he athletic, but he can also block. If you’re the defense, you have two decisions to scheme against Travis Kelce.

The first decision is to keep a linebacker on the field. Linebackers are better suited to play the run and advantage against being stronger verse a guy like Kelce.

The disadvantage, however, is that a linebacker is weak against the passing game. A player like Kelce will efficiently run by a linebacker in man-to-man coverage. This gives the advantage to Kelce in the passing game.

The second option is to bring a defensive back against a tight end. Defensive backs are often smaller players, so they wouldn’t shed a block from a tight end in the run game.

However, in the passing game, they are better suited to cover a tight end and a player like Travis Kelce.

The defense will always be in the wrong. They must decide whether to play aggressively toward the run with a linebacker or cover the pass with a defensive back.

This is why tight ends matchups are a nightmare, as coaches need big enough players to play run on defense but fast enough to pass.

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The New Tight End: H-Backs In Football

Another term for a tight end is an H-Back. The reason it’s called an H-back is because of the position they line up in. As we wrote about here, each position typically has a letter position that identifies its location.

The H-back is often lined up behind the tackle or a yard outside of the tackle. This player is unique because he can go across the formation and kick out a defensive end running the play “counter,” or he can hinge upon a defensive end like in the inside zone.

The H-back position is unique to each coach’s scheme. Still, it gives the offensive coordinator flexibility to use the tight end like a pulling guard rather than a stationary position on the line of scrimmage.

Learn More

Learn more about wide receivers by reading the articles below.

Learn To Stem & Stack At Wide Receiver

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How to Beat Press Coverage In Football

Why Do Wide Receivers Point At The Sideline?

Why Do Wide Receivers Wear Gloves?

The tight end position is becoming increasingly popular, creating mismatches for the defense.

Athletic tight ends are responsible for blocking as well as pass-catching. These players are unique because they can block like an offensive lineman but have the catching ability of wide receivers.

Tight ends stress defensive coordinators to put a linebacker in the game to stop the run or force a defensive back to stop the pass. The defense will often be wrong, as spread offenses can check different plays at the line of scrimmage based on personnel.

Tight ends will continue to revolutionize the game as they become more critical to coaches’ schemes.

How do you use tight ends in your scheme? Do you have a different way to counteract tight ends? We want to know! Tweet us on Twitter @vIQtorysports, and let’s discuss.

About the author

Chris Haddad is the founder of vIQtory Sports. Chris has coached football for 12+ years and continues to coach at the high school level. He continues to study and provide valuable content for those looking to learn more about this wonderful game of football.