NBC football analyst Cris Collinsworth hammered home a point relentlessly in the second half of New Orleans’ win over Green Bay Sunday night.
He was underlining the impact that tight end Jimmy Graham’s return to the lineup had for the Saints’ offense.
Collinsworth called New Orleans a Super Bowl contender with the 6-7, 265-pound receiving stud back on the field. That is quite the hyperbole for a team that entered the game with a 2-4 record.
Iowa State tight end E.J. Bibbs, a pre-season All-America candidate, impacts the Cyclones similarly.
Bibbs suffered an injury late in fall camp. Fighting through it, Bibbs had 11 catches for 88 yards in the opening four games while ISU averaged 312.0 yards of offense.
In the most-recent three outings – after Bibbs got healthier – Iowa State has gained 433 yards per game and Bibbs has 21 receptions, 175 yards and five touchdowns.
“You’ve got to change things you do defensively (when Bibbs is operating at full strength),” Coach Paul Rhoads said Monday. “If you’re going to bracket him or manage him – if you have additional playmakers – it opens things up.”
No kidding. Bibbs had a career-best 10 catches vs. Texas. Not surprisingly, Aaron Wimberly had the team’s first 100-yard rushing day of the season.
“Opening up E.J. Bibbs as a big athlete is not something folks want to do,” Rhoads said. “Right now, we have enough guys making plays, and with the ball distribution in our offense, we are able to take advantage of that. E.J. gives us that (ability).”
With Graham unable to play at peak level recently because of injury, the Saints beat Tampa Bay in OT and lost to Detroit. With his return Sunday, New Orleans handily defeated the division-leading Packers.
The impact of a great tight end can’t be underestimated.