2016 unit-by-unit analysis: The tight ends

New England Patriots' Patrick Chung (23) breaks up a pass intended for Atlanta Falcons' Austin Hooper during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

New England Patriots’ Patrick Chung (23) breaks up a pass intended for Atlanta Falcons’ Austin Hooper during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons reclaimed the NFC South title and became NFC champions for just the second time in franchise history.

The Falcons, calling themselves a Brotherhood, had a major breakthrough in Dan Quinn’s second season as head coach before collapsing in the Super Bowl LI in grand fashion against New England by blowing a 25-point lead.

The offense soared to new heights and the young and marauding defense made great strides over the course of the season.

We continue our unit-by-unit review of the 2016 team with the tight ends:

UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

TIGHT ENDS

Who: Starter — *Jacob Tamme (UFA). Backups – Austin Hooper, Levine Toilolo (UFA), Joshua Perkins and D.J. Tialavea (ERFA).

Contract/free agent situation: Tamme and Toilolo are set to become unrestricted free agents.

What they did in season: Tamme revived his career with the Falcons before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury that required surgery. It’s unclear if the team will re-sign him because Hooper is clearly the future at the position. Toilolo has developed in a strong blocker and had a decent season catching the ball. Perkins played late in the seasons and showed some promise. The front office believes he has some up-side as a pass-catcher. He need to improve his route-running and in-line blocking to stick in the NFL. Tialavea played late in the regular season and showed some promise blocking.   The group was important to the redzone offense as they caught 10 touchdowns passes: Tamme (three), Hooper (three), Toilolo (two), Perkins one) and Tialavea (one). Toilolo was also key in the run game in setting the edge for the outside zone runs.

What they did in postseason:  Hooper caught six passes for 65 yards and one touchdown. Toilolo caught three passes for 31 passes.


Comment: Tight end coach Wade Harman sang the praises of Hooper and the veterans who contributed to his development as a rookie. Hooper, who was a third round pick from Stanford, finished the regular season with 19 catches for 271 yards and three touchdowns.  “I think having great role models in Levine and Jacob Tamme, I think those two guys have really helped,” Harman said. “They could fill in the gaps in between meetings, they were grinding to kind of help him along. I really credit those veteran guys for helping him out.”  The Falcons believe Hooper has a bright future.  “I’m really impressed with his work ethic,” Harman said. “He’s done some really good things as a rookie this year. He was in a tough position because he had to play. We really saw some really good things. I’ve been really pleased with his progress.”tempap_17037087361579-nfl_mezz_1280_1024

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