After the retirement of Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons opted for an offense that did not really utilize the tight end position. The results were... not great. The next season the team prioritized the position. Then whiffed on two of the top options: St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams TE Lance Kendrick, and Washington Redskins TE Niles Paul.
An old Kyle Shanahan player? No way.
The team ended up with former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos TE Jacob Tamme. And he easily had the best season out of any of these players, and finished with a career year. Tamme finished 2015 with an impressive 59 catches and 657 yards.
And he expects even better. Tamme spoke to Andrew Hirsh, formerly of the Falcoholic but he is now slumming it as an official reporter for the Atlanta Falcons.
I see a lot of promise, so I’m excited about my role again. I feel like I could have had an even better year last year and I feel poised to have an even better year this year. So for me, that part of it is really exciting.
The offense got out of the gate very fast, but slowed by week six, and was one of the least productive units in the league during the last half of the season.
Asked what went wrong last season, Tamme's face went white, he began sweating profusely, and wrote "they are listening" on a small slip of paper he then burned. Or he said he is more worried about what he can do, and blamed redzone turnovers.
The team absolutely struggled when they had bad fumbles at center, interceptions by Matt Ryan, and letting the ball loose by both running backs, but the team seemed to max out around 17 or so points even without crippling turnovers. However, this complaint is for another day.
Considering the complexity and uniqueness of Shanahan's scheme, Tamme believes the extra year will really help the offensive consistency.
For me, it was the first time learning this style of offense, and it takes some time. It takes everyone some time. And not even from a learning perspective as far as (the playbook). Everyone studies, everyone prepares. We prepared well … There’s a lot of intricacies of our offense that takes reps on the field. You have to put yourself in situations where, "If this happens, you have to do this, this or that." Those are easiest and best learned on the field in real time—even in walkthroughs. All the repetitions we had last year helped, and I’m excited about this year because we’ll go into the start of this offseason with a background and an understanding. Whereas last year, everything was obviously brand new.
Tamme sounds ready to improve (even at 31), was happy with Matt Ryan's passing practice in Miami, and even had some impressive things to say about Mohamed Sanu's ability to catch footballs. If the Falcons can just maintain their early season offensive success, they should have one of the NFL's most impressive offenses.