The Vikings and Steelers are getting similiar production out of their QBs so far in the 2009 season. And, by extension, they are also getting similar production out of their starting TEs.
Both the Vikings and Steelers are led by QBs who rank in the top 10 in TDs and passer rating. Brett Favre is currently 3rd in TDs (12) and passer rating (109.5) while Ben Roethlisberger is 8th in TDs (10) and 4th in passer rating (104.5). This type of play from perhaps the most important position on the field as each team off to good starts, with the Vikings sitting at 6-0 and the Steelers at a sound 4-2.
Because both QBs tend to rely on the TE position in crucial passing situations, both the Vikings and Steelers are also getting top-of-the-line production from their starting TEs. Minnesota’s Visanthe Shiancoe is tied with Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald for the NFL lead in TD receptions with 5, and Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller is just one behind with 4 receiving scores.
Shiancoe’s surge in production doesn’t come as a surprise to folks who’ve been following the Vikings. After a disappointing 1st year with the team a couple seasons back, when he was still learning the offense and thinking before acting, Shiancoe came into his own last season and has clearly taken another step forward this season. But it’s also no surprise to see Shiancoe’s production rise because he’s playing with a QB who has historically relied upon his TE in the passing game.
“Well, if you look at my career, or maybe in this offense in general, it’s kind of the crutch to go to the tight end,” Favre said to reporters on Wednesday.”
Last year Shiancoe finished with 7 TDs, which paired with his 5 scores this years gives him the 2nd most receiving TDs among all NFL TEs, with only Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez higher on the list.
Favre, who has given the Vikings aerial attack a lift since joining the club during the preseason, isn’t surprised at all by Shiancoe’s success.
“He’s a big, physical target,” Favre said. “I think the sky is the limit for a guy like him.
“I even wonder sometimes if Shank has any idea of how good he can be. That catch he made the first drive (against Baltimore) was unbelievable. I don’t know how he caught it. It was a great catch. When I threw it I thought it was too far but then I go ‘ok you make me look good.’ That is the type of player he can be and then some.”
Tags: Visanthe Shiancoe
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