Chase Winovich played some tight end at Michigan. Should the Patriots do something crazy?
It’s not often that we feel obligated to come down on Bill Belichick, but his reluctance to bolster the Patriots’ colorless tight end situation in the wake of Rob Gronkowski’s retirement last year has been nothing short of indefensible.
Going through the 2019 season without finding a replacement for Gronk was understandable as Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo formed a serviceable stopgap trio, logging a combined 36 receptions for 418 yards and two touchdowns.
Those are lackluster numbers by every stretch of the imagination and the Patriots — based on the first three games of 2020 — aren’t going to come close to replicating them, which shines a glaring light on their current issues at the position. In other words, Belichick and Co. are desperate for anybody to step up as a security blanket for Cam Newton.
Well, it just so happens that edge rusher Chase Winovich had experience playing the position during his days at Michigan and Belichick literally has nothing to lose by rolling him out there. The 2019 third-round pick admitted on Friday that he would love it if the coaching staff turned to him for help at tight end. Time to have some fun!
"“I wasn’t recruited as a tight end, but coach (Jim) Harbaugh came in, we had some injuries at tight end, he said, ‘I like your speed,'” Winovich told reporters on Friday. “He named some guys in the league that he had played. So I actually played tight end. I played some running back. This is actually when coach (Jedd) Fisch was there.”“To be honest, that would be awesome. Really, I’m more focused on just making sure I’m assignment sound. Until I can be absolutely perfect and in everything I do, there’s more work to be done and more focus there to be had than trying to branch out."
Belichick obviously isn’t the type of coach who likes to have fun by experimenting with players at different positions. However, desperate times call for desperate measures and right now the Patriots have literally zero semblance of a TE threat in their aerial attack.
As crazy (and demoralizing) as it sounds, Izzo has accounted for all of the team’s tight end production this year, registering three receptions for 44 yards while playing 86% of the offensive snaps.
It’s worth noting that Winovich has been wreaking havoc on the edge early on in his sophomore campaign, tallying 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks, five QB hits and one forced fumble. Per Pro Football Focus, he also has the second-highest pass rush win rate in the league at 27.5%, trailing only Steelers defensive end TJ Watt (29.3%).
With that in mind, it would be reasonable for fans to think keeping things as is would be the smart move. However, we aren’t asking for the former Wolverine to be converted to a full-time offensive player.
All we are implying is that it couldn’t hurt for Belichick to at least see what Winovich could provide at tight end. It’s not like he would be any worse than what the Patriots are currently rolling with on a weekly basis.