The player who could end up benefitting the most from Gary Kubiak’s arrival in Baltimore is currently not even under contract for 2014.
That would be tight end
The fifth-year tight end is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but he could be in store for a big year if he re-signs with the Ravens. Kubiak has a history of developing and targeting tight ends, and Pitta stands to gain from his role in the new system.
“I remember studying Dennis, and I’m very impressed with him as a player,” Kubiak said during Monday’s press conference. “I know he went through a tough year this year with getting injured, but that position has always been a big part of our offense. I’m sure it won’t be any different.”
Kubiak’s offense is traditionally built around establishing the run and then capitalizing with play-action passes on the bootleg. Tight ends are critical for that kind of system – as blockers and pass catchers – and Pitta would continue to be a prime target for quarterback
“If Pitta is smart, he should re-sign with the Ravens because Kubiak loves to throw to tight ends,” said Houston Chronicle reporter John McClain, who covered the Texans for Kubiak’s eight years as the head coach.
“The tight ends are going to catch a lot of passes and get the ball in the red zone a lot. In 2012, Kubiak ran more two-tight end formations than any team in the league.”
The numbers show that Kubiak consistently featured the tight end during his time as a play caller in Houston and Denver. Under Kubiak, Texans tight end Owen Daniels was a two-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe had the best seasons of his career in Denver.
Owen Daniels, Houston Texans
2013: 34 catches, 352 yards, 5 TDs
2012: 63 catches, 768 yards, 3 TDs
2011: 70 catches, 862 yards, 2 TDs
2010: 38 catches, 471 yards, 2 TDs
2009: 62 catches, 716 yards, 6 TDs
Shannon Sharpe, Denver Broncos
1995: 63 catches, 756 yards, 4 TDs
1996: 80 catches, 1,062 yards, 10 TDs
1997: 72 catches, 1,107 yards, 3 TDs
1998: 64 catches, 768 yards, 10 TDs
By comparison, Pitta’s best season came in 2012 when he caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns.
In addition to Kubiak’s involvement with tight ends, the Ravens also have a new tight ends coach for the first time under Head Coach John Harbaugh. Brian Pariani took over for Wade Harman, who had been with the Ravens since 1999.
Pariani has worked under Kubiak throughout their NFL careers, coaching the tight ends in both Houston and Denver.
“Brian has earned a reputation as one of the NFL’s top tight ends coaches, and we’re excited that he was available and willing to join us,” Harbaugh said. “We are making changes on offense, and Brian will be able to help teach and implement them.”