Sorry, Foster. Sorry, if I just cost you 10 bucks. But I think you’ll be ok. In fact, I think I wouldn’t have a big problem shelling out ten bucks each time I was compared to a future Hall of Famer. Something his head coach did recently and a comp he got even before he was drafted.
“My ears do perk up when he says Gronk only because I normally get a $10 fine which is kind of funny. It originated back in 2019,” Moreau said of the tight end room, treating Gronk comps like a donation to a swear jar.
For a guy who had just 629 receiving yards over four seasons in college football, the comparison was more of a physique one than a performance one. After all, Gronk had more receiving yards (672) and touchdowns (10) in just his junior year alone at Arizona than Moreau had his whole college career at LSU.
As a rookie, Foster started turning some heads, however. The fourth-rounder showed surprisingly good hands for a player who was labeled a blocking tight end. And the result was 21 catches and five touchdowns that season.
Just when you thought he was on his way to being a legit complementary receiving tight end alongside Darren Waller, the Raiders signed veteran Jason Witten, leading to Moreau’s numbers plummeting.
Moreau has no regrets about Witten joining the team. In fact, he considered it a dream come true to play with a great like Witten who was one of Foster’s idols.
Not only that, but Moreau was coming off a serious injury and the team wasn’t certain if he’d be able to come back from it full strength early in the season.
Now, the injury is well behind him, Witten is retired, and Moreau is entering his third season with promises his snaps will increase. Snaps he has certainly earned over his first two seasons.
“Coach has been very honest and forthright about what he wants my role to be on this football team,” Moreau said Friday. “He wants to give me snaps, and he wants to put me on the field and go produce. In the run game, primarily, because we are a run-first team, that is the Raiders, that is our identity, we run the ball. And that’s where I need to make my niche on this team. But the more I’m out there, obviously the more opportunities I’ll get to make production in stat categories as well. Coach has been pretty cool about it.”
Gruden loves tight ends. That’s a well-established fact. Two tight end sets are common in Gruden’s offense. The number one tight end is unquestionably Darren Waller. Another well-established fact.
Normally, Moreau just goes out and enjoys playing his role in the shadow of Waller, who is arguably the greatest mismatch in the NFL with his size/speed/hands combination.
“Getting to play behind Darren Waller is one of the greatest blessings in the world,” Moreau added.
“Everyone is so centrally focused on him as they should be because if they’re not he’ll go for 200 (yards). And then that just creates pockets of space and opportunities for everyone else.”
What if, say, Waller isn’t out there, though? That’s been the case the past three practices in training camp. Making Moreau the team’s number one tight end. Though, as is often the case with Foster, he has a unique and rather cerebral perspective on things.
“I feel like my responsibility doesn’t really change at all,” Moreau said. “We love to preach kind of a next man up and you have to step up and you have to fill the role, but… I heard something really cool the other day; it was that people don’t rise to the occasion. That’s not really a real thing. Heroes aren’t really made in the moment. Guys normally fall to the level of their training. Especially during sudden change. So, when we don’t have our centerpiece out there, everyone else has to fall to the level of the training that they’ve done over the past seven months. So, at that point, guys kind of have to step up. And if you need a different leader, that’s fine, but you have to take responsibility for yourself to be able to handle a little more of a snap share, but also do your job and try to hone in on the details. You can’t have ‘I need to make a play here’. You can’t press for plays, you have to let them come.”
If I’m interpreting this right (and I listened and read his statement many times trying to do so), it sounds like he’s saying neither he nor anyone else has to step in and fill Waller’s role in this offense. That everyone has to step in and do what they’re trained to do and if that happens, the offense will naturally evolve to meet the moment. Perhaps collectively.
Agreed that there aren’t Darren Wallers just waiting in the wings every day for their moment. He is a special player. I also think Moreau may be looking at a high ceiling he hasn’t even come close to reaching and with these increased snaps he is expected to receive this year, we should start to see that.