Robert Saleh loves the New York Jets’ new tight end pairing
The New York Jets‘ tight ends struggled tremendously in 2021. It was clear the Jets needed to overhaul the position if they wanted any chance to succeed in 2022.
Both veteran tight ends put pen to paper within the first few days of the new league year. To some, the signing of Conklin (after already adding Uzomah) came as a bit of a surprise, as bringing in two players on $6M+/year deals at the same position signified just how important each player would be in the Jets offense.
Appearing on The Official Jets Podcast, head coach Robert Saleh gushed over each player’s skill-set and how well they fit together in the same offense, indirectly answering some questions that fans may have had.
“Those two [Uzomah & Conklin], they actually complement each other very well,” said Saleh.
“C.J., obviously a big, wide tight end. Really good in the flats, running high crosses. Getting him on the move, right? Get the ball in his hands in space and this big, massive human being running with the speed he can, he’s hard to bring down. He runs violently, he blocks violently,” said Saleh. “Really excited to have him.”
Seven years into his career, Uzomah has developed into a very reliable player. Outside of a 2020 season that was cut short due to an Achilles tear, he started 47 of Cincinnati’s 49 regular-season games between the 2018, 2019, and 2021 seasons.
In 2021, Uzomah had a career season, catching 49 passes for 493 yards and five touchdowns as one of Joe Burrow’s safety blankets en route to a Super Bowl appearance.
As for Conklin, Saleh wasn’t short on praise either.
“And then Conklin, who’s also a very good run blocker, may not be as big but has all the grit and nastiness that you’d want out of a tight end,” said Saleh. “At the same time, his ability to win those one-on-ones, to work in man coverage and shake and create separation. He’s able to do that.”
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Like Uzomah, Conklin had a breakout season in 2021. A projected backup at the beginning of the season, an injury to starter Irv Smith Jr. quickly propelled Conklin into the starting lineup, where he excelled. In what was his fourth season with the Vikings, Conklin caught 61 passes for 593 yards and three touchdowns.
“To be able to mix and match those two, off the play-action pass game, the dropback game, and being able to utilize them as much as we can, it’s a really cool advantage for our offense,” said Saleh. “We added two very different playmakers that can be used completely differently.”
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Neither player has been, is, or likely ever will be a star in the NFL. Rather, they are good, proven, and experienced players, which is exactly what the Jets needed heading into the offseason – especially because of the importance of Zach Wilson‘s development in year two.
Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur was likely foaming at the mouth when he found out he would have both Uzomah and Conklin at his disposal. And Jets fans were, too. After all, to most fans of the team, having two proven tight ends sounds like a fairy tale story from a fantasyland filled with rainbows and unicorns.
It’s been nearly a decade since the Jets have had even one player worth mentioning at the position… let alone two that happen to complement each other well.