Broncos Tight end Noah Vant Has The Catch, But Not The Big Production Through Four Games – The Denver Post
The visual connection between the Broncos’ tight end Noah Fant and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater means they both know what’s going to be available.
Fant was lined up in the left hole in the second offensive play of the inaugural season against the New York Giants and Melvin Gordon’s dip was out. The Giants’ defense looked confused.
“Failed coverage and I found an open space,” Fant said. “Teddy and I were on the same page.”
An easy field-and-catch game on the middle gained 15 yards and Fant’s third year was off to a fruitful start. But by the opening four games, this kind of collective gain was unavailable to him. Entering Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh, Vant’s 18 tied as the Broncos tied with receiver Cortland Sutton, who finished sixth among the NFL’s tight ends and tied for 39th overall.
But Fant is limited to 224 yards per catch (8.7).
“I’m not going to get a lot of results after four matches,” coach Vic Fangio said.
Maybe it is, but a passing game without Jerry Jeudy (ankle) for a few more weeks and minus KJ Hamler (ACL) for the rest of the year needs more of Fant’s involvement in general and more on-field involvement in particular.
“For me, it feels kind of useless,” said Fant. “Some plays are going really well and some plays aren’t the best. Just trying to figure out where I’m at. I feel like that’s what our whole insult is doing, just trying to figure out how we can fit together smoothly and move in the right direction.”
Two days after this self-assessment, Fant visited with The Denver Post.
The first question: Where is it located?
“My fitness is to do whatever they want me to do,” said Vant diplomatically. “They asked me to do a lot of different things in the block and pass match, so that was the biggest thing for me with the coaches, making sure I do what they ask and go from there. Just trying to be versatile.”
Run shorter paths
Fant has been the Broncos’ intended receiver on 27 pass attempts, second in the team behind Sutton’s 28.
The throw diagram shows how the imagination is not prioritized below the seams, as it can use its speed as a moving target. Nineteen of his targets, including 14, traveled no more than five “air” yards down the field according to The Post’s analysis. Fant only has two passes that cut at least 10 “air” yards (15 and 25 yard gains against the Giants).
Down the field, it was a three-lane target for at least 16 “air” yards (all incomplete).
“Sometimes it’s like that,” Fant said. “But we all know it will come my way eventually. It’s not like the coaches can control how the defense plays. We’re just trying to move the ball and get points. Especially if things don’t go well, it gets frustrating, but you have to keep going.” .
Per game, Fant has eight goals/six catches (giants), six/fours (Jaguars), three/twos (Jets) and 10/sixes (Ravens).
The average “air” distance of his targets is only 5.9 yards.
Last year, Fant had 13 blasters (gains of at least 16 yards), but he has only one this year, a 25-yard gain against the Giants.
It’s just the way the coverages and readings came in,” said coach Wade Harman. I’m sure (the defenses) get it. We had a shot (19 yards) down the field (against Baltimore) and it hit the defender in the back. Will come. I don’t think you can force them. When they are there, you take them. He had a chance to catch the run and break some tackles.”
The defenses had to respect Jody all over the field and Humler on his vertical ways. The multiplier effect is more attention paid down to the Fant.
“Sure,” Harman said. “When you have speed on the edges, it definitely removes the top and gives you more room in there.”
Patience is required
Listed at 249 pounds, Fant’s best course is to pick up Bridgewater’s passes as he moves forward so his speed allows him to be run by midfielders and through tackles with side kicks and safety.
Hunting opportunities didn’t materialize after the yards—only 72 out of 156 yards. Vant’s best job this year was on the move.
Looking at the reporter’s iPad before rehearsal on Wednesday, Fant reviewed three of his best plays.
The first play was the aforementioned grab against the Giants when Fant was run from the hole.
“It’s definitely different,” he said of standing up. “You can see things a little better. It gets muddy sometimes when you’re in a three-point situation, but I’m able to do both and I enjoy doing both and trying to figure things out from there.”
The second play was his 14-yard landing in Jacksonville when Vant was inside the Trekking formation to the right of Bridgewater. They were easy choices for Fant, who wasn’t crammed into the line and then broke the tackle attempt.
“I was a ‘Y’ on this play,” said Fant. “It’s way to ‘get out’ from five yards and break the interference and do the rest. I’m trying to focus on getting him to do what I want him to do, so I pushed inside to catch his feet and keep him outside and then pulled out to get some space.”
“Noah had a chance to sit in or out of the house and he blew up really fast and the first guy, a lot of the time, has a hard time getting him down. Once he got to the edge, he was determined and didn’t let anyone catch him,” Harman said.
The third play was a three-yard touchdown against Baltimore when he lined up to the left of Bridgewater in a three-point position.
“Just a little ‘up’ up the road,” said Fant. “Nothing too crazy. Not too bad.”
Statistically, Fant’s total catch and two touchdowns aren’t too bad over the four season games. But the first three games were a luxury – the Broncos were in control the whole time and they didn’t need intermittent plays. Their lack of blasting was evident against the crows.
Harman invites Vant to be patient and to care about the opportunities he gets, not the ones he doesn’t. But there has to be a system-wide effort to put it in the right places.
“I think[Fant’s]production is good,” said offensive coordinator Pat Shurmore. “He does what he needs to. At some point, some of those (short gains) will turn into long ones.”