Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez may be listed as a Tight End, but he undoubtedly sure does more than just play one position.
With record-shattered TE Rob Gronkowski healing but injured (see PFG’s previous article), Hernandez should be the Pats’ primary wideout this game. They do have star slot WR Wes Welker on their roster, and he is nothing short of fantastic. Hernandez, however, brings more versatility.
Hernandez can block exceptionally, can make mind-blowing catches, and can even line up at running back at pound the ball. Against the Denver Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs, Hernandez ran all over Denver’s D.
As Bill Parcells explained perfectly today on ESPN, he can also change the look of an offense with a pre-snap motion across the formation. Defenses have to line up in the nickel to cover either Gronk or Hernandez with a DB. He can flank out at receiver and run a deep route against a corner, or can line up as the slotback and be a powerful run blocker and eliminate a linebacker from the play.
Hernandez can also block while lined up at receiver, or run out of the backfield or when lined up in a running formation. His multidimensional style of play forces defenses to scramble for answers.
If I were the Giants Defensive Coordinator, Perry Fewell, I would consistently switch between 4-2, 3-3, and 2-4 defenses. Instead of having three CB’s, however, I would use a either a strong safety or free safety. Both types of safety would be able to match up with his speed, and would still be able to take Hernandez to the turf.
The Giants already had their hands full with Tom Brady. With Hernandez’s emergence, Fewell has to put a lot of hours of game tape in to prepare himself and his team for this scary offense.