The Not-Tight-End Tight End
It's easy to name every guy lining up at tight end for the Packers, discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and wonder how they could fit into this year's team. It's much harder, though, to think about the man responsible for their development: tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot.
If you followed Fontenot during his playing career, it'd be difficult to peg him as a pass catcher, much less a coach for guys responsible for catching the ball. Fontenot played in 239 career NFL games, but never once caught a pass. In fact, it would have been remarkable if he did make a catch, because he was a center, a versatile, successful one who had lined up at every offensive line position during his college career.
Splitting time between the Bears, Saints, and Bengals, Fontenot achieved something few can boast in the NFL: longevity. In his 16 year NFL career, he started more than 100 games for two different teams, and even connected with the man who would be his future boss in New Orleans when Mike McCarthy was the offensive coordinator there.
Fontenot joined the Packers' coaching staff in 2006 as an intern, then moved to assistant offensive line coach, then to running backs coach, then finally to the tight end group he coaches now.
Because of that wide ranging experience, Fontenot has had a hand in developing some of the Packers' biggest names on the offensive side of the ball. While he worked with the offensive line, Fontenot coached up T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton, who arrived while Fontenot was working int hat capacity. He also oversaw John Kuhn's Pro Bowl campaign in 2011 and Jermichael Finley's career year in 2012.
What does all that mean for this year's crop of tight ends? Maybe nothing, but if nothing else we know that Fontenot has a deep background as a talent developer and, just like in his playing career, he can adapt and survive long enough to make a difference.