Anthony Firkser the tight end
In all likelihood, Anthony Firkser is going to walk into the 2021 season as the top tight end in the Tennessee Titans offense. Even if the Titans drafted a tight end, that position is historically slow to develop and we have seen the Titans groom tight ends for years before letting them start (which is the whole point of this article).
In the Titans offense, having a balanced tight end is important, but don’t put too much emphasis on how big of a deal run blocking is for a tight end. It is very rare that a tight end is asked to drive 260+ lb. defenders off of the ball and even rarer in this offense because blocking is more about running to a spot and walling off defenders.
Keeping in mind how important short-area quickness is in this scheme, it is interesting to see how Firkser and Smith stacked up in their agility drills:
Anthony Firkser: 4.29 short shuttle, 7.06 3-cone
Jonnu Smith: 4.18 short shuttle, 7.43 3-cone
So putting those numbers into context, it means that Smith had a better chance of beating the defender to a spot laterally, but Firkser’s athleticism is more suited to climbing up to the second level and walling off linebackers.
Now, the most forgotten note in all of this tight end discussion is that the Titans will never be forced to ask Firkser to block the toughest EDGE or LB on the field. The beauty of a tight end like Firkser is that you can line him up as a wing/H-back and move him before the snap after you see the alignment of the defense.
Between Geoff Swaim and Khari Blasingame, the Titans can create their own matchups using a second tight end or a fullback.
All of these things combine to explain how Firkser can be the TE1 in this offense without putting him in a position to be outmatched as a blocker. Now let’s talk about why this new role isn’t going to hinder him as a part-time slot receiver.