Scott Chandler was often part of the problem versus the New England Patriots. The 6-foot-7, 260-pound tight end is now hoping to be part of the solution with them.
Chandler signed a two-year, $5.3 million deal with New England last week, after playing his previous five seasons across the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills. He went up against the Patriots nine times over that span, catching 28 passes for 384 yards and four touchdowns.
Yet the reason for that success versus New England is less layered than it once appeared. His job was to catch passes. His job was also to block for runs. And sometimes, both created issues for the Patriots’ defense, despite the 2-7 record over Chandler’s five seasons there.
“I think you go into a game just wanting to do what it takes for your team to win, and sometimes that means catching the ball and sometimes that means blocking well,” Chandler said during a media conference call on Friday. “I’ve probably had games that I didn’t have very good stats, but they were some of my better games throughout my career. It just so happened that in those games I needed to catch the ball a little bit and I was able to do that.”
Chandler caught 182 passes for 2,120 yards and 17 touchdowns during his Bills career. One of his three multi-touchdown games came against the Patriots’ defense, which was also subject to his lone 100-yard game last October.
Even so, the “Y” target has had an effect without the ball as well. He logged 1,181 run-blocking snaps with Buffalo, according to Pro Football Focus, working both inline and in the seam not unlike his new teammate, Rob Gronkowski.
But unlike the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Gronkowski – who was named to his third All-Pro team in 2014 – Chandler’s NFL journey has been without much flash. The 2007 fourth-round pick out of Iowa bounced between San Diego Chargers, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys without catching a pass. He resided on two different practice squads. And he was waived three times before signing with Buffalo in December of 2010.
His approach has remained the same since then, however. He’s learned how to use his height to his advantage down the field, and he’s learned how to stay on the field as a blocker despite it.
“You learn to sink or swim pretty quick in this league,” Chandler said. “You want to do whatever you can to get low and stay low. It’s hard, but you learn how to deal with it because if you can’t get the job done, they’re going to find someone else.”
Chandler should help New England in both facets, whether he’s on the field with Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui or Tim Wright. And he should add an option to the two-tight end set, whether it be passing in the red zone or running between the 20s.
But one thing is for certain: Chandler won’t be a thorn in the Patriots’ side now that he’s on the same one.
“I’m looking forward to going into this year and doing whatever I can to be a part of that,” he added.