If the Giants had a surprise impact player last season, it was rookie tight end Will Tye, who was waived after the third preseason game, signed to the practice squad and ultimately established as a starter, catching 42 passes for 464 yards and three touchdowns.
But the former Stony Brook star is finding out the hard way that he can’t get comfortable simply by proving himself as a receiver. New Giants coach Ben McAdoo singled out Tye in particular and the tight ends in general for a poor blocking performance in Saturday’s exhibition win over the Jets, who held the Giants’ running game to 39 yards on 20 carries.
Asked Monday if the Giants have a quality blocking tight end, McAdoo said, “We have guys who are improving. They’re not there yet. We need to continue working. We can get better as the season progresses. What we are now and what we’re going to be are two different things.”
Neither Tye nor veteran Larry Donnell is considered a good blocker, which is why the Giants drafted 6-5, 247-pound Jerell Adams in the sixth round out of South Carolina to compete for a job. “He will be a good piece of the puzzle to add to the mix,” McAdoo said of Adams.
Tye actually made a successful block on the Giants’ one big running play against the Jets, a 20-yard reverse by wide receiver Tavarres King. But they had only 19 yards rushing on the other 19 carries.
Asked about the critical response of the coaching staff directed at the tight ends, Tye said, “Constructive, good criticism. You need that to get better and definitely to move forward.
“Blocking is very important. It’s huge, especially on those ‘stretch’ runs, getting the edge or definitely into the backfield. It’s huge for the tight end position ... You have to get better, improve. Pay attention in the film room, watch more film.”
Describing his blocking responsibilities at Stony Brook, Tye said, “Very little. Very little, but I can get the job done.”
The 6-2, 262-pounder believes he has the skill set to be an effective blocker, not only at tight end, but also when he lines up at fullback.
“It’s definitely a mentality,” Tye said. “You just have to know that when that snap goes, you have to go no matter what.”
Criticism for the Giants’ poor offensive performances during the preseason has fallen heavily on the offensive line, but the tight ends are a big part of that mix. As guard Justin Pugh said, “They are a sixth offensive lineman. Half the plays they’re in there run-blocking. Obviously, you look at that Jets defensive front, and they’ve got some grown men on that D-line. To put a tight end on (Pro Bowl defensive lineman Muhammad) Wilkerson is definitely a tough task. But at the end of the day, you have to go out there and block him.”
Pugh was referring to an early play when rookie tight end Ryan Malleck was manhandled one-on-one by Wilkerson. During the regular season, the Giants would scheme to avoid such mismatches.
Tye knows he has a lot more work to do to improve his blocking, but he’s in a far better spot than he was a year ago at this time. “Last year, I definitely was nervous and I didn’t know what was going on,” Tye said. “I have a little more confidence definitely. I can feel it.”