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Dynasty Player Spotlight: Rob Housler Interview

 

I think Arizona Cardinals Tight End Robert Housler is primed to breakout.

Why?

He possesses everything you want and need to create a mismatch in today’s game where a pass-catching tight end is a tremendous asset. It is as simple as this: big target + speed + quickness + solid hands = mismatch. His comps are eerily similar to Jimmy Graham’s, with 10-15 pounds being the only difference.

Many of you may be asking yourselves why he didn’t burst onto the scene last year. Patience. Rookie tight ends traditionally need some time to learn the technique of the NFL game before excelling. Don’t forget that the lockout-shortened offseason last year didn’t do the 2011 rookies any favors. Now’s not the time to give up – it’s the time to jump on the train.

I spent some time talking with Robert about his rookie season, what he needs to do in order to excel on the field, and what we can expect from the Cardinals in 2012.

The below is only an excerpt of the interview. Click the ‘listen’ link below for the full 30 minute interview which includes discussion on the Cardinals wide receivers and further in-depth discussion of Robert’s best attributes and what skills he needs to improve to see more time on the field in 2012.

Steve Wyremski (SW): Let’s talk a bit about your rookie season. You were drafted out of Florida Atlantic University in the 3rd round last April. Unfortunately with the lockout, you had a shortened rookie offseason. How much did that impact your development and performance on the field last year?

Robert Housler (RH): I think it was a tough obstacle to overcome, especially talking to the guys who just came in a season before me (as far as development goes). Even now going back and looking at all the film, it’s one of those things where there was a lot of thought process evident in my game-play and it wasn’t just reactionary and second nature. I think it did hurt me a little bit, but it was one of those things you had to overcome. It was the hand dealt. I did my best [and thought] I did pretty good at understanding the playbook and [I’m] looking forward to playing faster this year.

SW: The tight end (you mentioned getting up to speed… understanding the playbook as a rookie) is known as a position that’s very difficult for rookies to pick up and have a ton of success. Looking back on your rookie year, what do you think was the most difficult thing for you at your position at the NFL level?

RH: It was just the technique. [Specifically,] understanding technique on certain plays and understanding the importance of technique. In college, I felt like you could get away with a lot, but you can’t get away with it as much [at the professional level]. The guy across from you is getting paid a lot to get to the quarterback and make a lot of tackles. It was one of those things where along with [playbook] concepts, you had to also understand the technique of blocking and running routes. It’s definitely not a one-dimensional game as far as tight end goes. That was something that caught me off guard – attention to detail and technique. It’s something I worked diligently on with my position coach, Freddie Kitchens and is something we still work on. There’s a lot of importance in technique. That separates you from the guy across from you.

SW: So, how is the run blocking coming along at this point? Prior to the 2011 season, that was one of the things that Coach Whisenhunt noted that you need to work on. Working through the season and with your position coach, how is that coming along?

RH: I think it’s night and day. I’m not where I need to be… I think I’m far from it, but I don’t know anybody who really feels they’re where they should be.

SW: Most of your time on the field last year seemed to be split out wide as opposed to inline. With the Patriots success with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (Hernandez is not a solid blocker and they primarily position him out wide), has the coaching staffs plan with you changed from the preseason to later on in the year because of that?

RH: They were definitely more confident in me in my receiving abilities than my run blocking. You want to put someone out there and let them succeed. You don’t want to put someone out there not doing what they’re good at. That was up to me to prove that I could play that phase of the game.

You know, it’s still up to me now going into the offseason and going into camp [to prove] that I can be on the field every single play and it’ll be beneficial to the team to have me on the field for either run or pass. Last season, there just wasn’t as much confidence in me in the run game as there was in the pass game, so that’s just up to me. I don’t want to come off the field at all. For me to stay on the field, I just need to prove to them that they can have confidence in me in the run game.

SW: What do you think needs to happen for the talent and ability to translate to success on the field?

RH: It’s just a matter of executing. Last year we had a shortened offseason and we had a whole lot of new faces coming into the organization. It was just a matter of feeling each other out and finding out what someone does best. For me, I got on the field a little later in the season as far as the pass game goes. [It’s] experience and time as an offense. You look at the successful offenses around the league and they’ve been together. So, now with a few tweaks here or there we basically have our team assembled. Now, it’s just a matter of repetition. I think next year we’ll be able to show that we’re an explosive offense. I’m excited. I just can’t wait to have all the guys come in and start repping it. With repetition and general time together, I think we’ll get a good feel for one another and show the league that we can be a good offense.

SW: What about the Cardinals receivers in general. Early Doucet was brought back, but after Larry Fitzgerald there’s a lot of role players. There’s no other dominant receiving option that may draw a second double team destroying the defense. Based on that, there seems to be an opportunity for you. Are there any specific plans for you to split you wide for most of your time to complement Larry?

RH: If anything, I’d like to be inline a little more. It may not be solely a blocking scheme, but it gives your offense balance. You say there’s no one else drawing a double team, but you don’t have too many two deep wideouts that draw double teams. It’s usually one or the other, so I feel like guys like Andre Roberts and Early [Doucet] don’t get enough credit. We haven’t had a solid one [consistent] quarterback and I think that’s big. I’m confident in the guys we have now. They both showed really good things last year. It was John [Skelton], Kevin [Kolb], and others last year splitting time throughout the season and it’s just a matter of repetition. I think Andre is going to show a lot of people what he can do. Early too. People say we don’t have a great number two and I just don’t agree with that. There aren’t too many teams that have two Larry Fitzgeralds. I can’t think of one.

I just want to help out the team. If we run two tight [ends] and want to run the ball six plays in a row, then that’s what they’re giving us. I’m not saying we’ve got to throw the ball 100 times to be successful. In the end it’s all about getting to the playoffs, winning the division, and seeing what you can do once you get to the playoffs. Beanie set a single game record last year, so receivers/tight ends… we’re just as happy to have a successful run game as a big breakout pass game.

SW: Any preference from your end on which quarterback (John Skelton or Kevin Kolb) in 2012? As a backup tight end last year, would there be a preference for John? At the same time, I look back at targets from last year and weeks 5 and 7 and Kolb targeted you 6 and 8 times in those games, which were the two highest for you over the course of the season. Any preference?

RH: No, not from my end. It’s just one of those things where you’re plugging a guy in and he’s giving you the ball. If it was a difference in my having confidence, I could say that, but I feel confident in both of those guys. I’m excited to see how that plays out. Either way, I think we have a winner.

SW: With you saying there are quite a few things you need to work on and you need the reps, you also alluded to the depth chart with [Todd] Heap and [Jeff] King… do you think it’s a bit of time and a bit of work before you see significant snaps on the field?

RH: It’s all about confidence. Everyone should have confidence in themselves, but it’s the confidence the coaching staff has in you. What I want to do between now and when the season starts is show them they can have confidence in me in every aspect. I talked about it earlier. Now is my time to work on it and show them, “alright, we can trust him with this, we can trust him with that”. You know as a player if you performed well or not and what to expect come the season. It’s a matter of putting in the time and staying healthy. It comes with time. I just had my rookie year. There are very few guys who just explode in their rookie year. You see it happen, but it’s not the majority of rookies. For me, it’s just showing that they can have confidence in me.

Click here to listen to the full 30 minute interview with Robert discussing the items above in depth as well as some additional topics such as my comparison of him to Jimmy Graham and a potential 2012 breakout.

Follow Robert on Twitter and follow Steve on Twitter.

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Zzzzzzzzz

    April 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Surely you guys can come up with more interesting daily content then this!

    • Steve Wyremski

      April 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      Can you expand on why you feel this isn’t interesting and a snooze fest?

      Is it because you haven’t heard of him/think he’s no more of a player than depth? Think the questions are boring? Hate interviews in general?

      Without context to your comment, there’s very little we would do to refine the content and specifically I will do with interviews.

      Side note and FWIW, I have this guy in my top 20 TEs right now. He’s an afterthought in many leagues and often a throw in to deals. He shouldn’t be.

      • Zzzzzzzzz

        April 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm

        I don’t want you take it personally. I am not knocking the article itself. It was well done. It just seems like a bit of a stretch when DLF is only posting one article a day. I guess it’s a tough time right now as we wait by the hour for April 26th. Everyone is eager to see what happens with picks 4 thru 32 and what dynasty impact players will land where (fantasy wise). I’m more interested in rookies then I am 2nd year players but that’s just me. I understand all the recent hype around TE’s because of the Gronk/Jimmy beast potential but I guess I am just one who would rather hear about ALL 20 TE’s instead and see where Housler stacks up against the rest and who you would pass on. Personally, I focus on TE’s who have an elite QB… and right now that’s not Arizona.

        Love the site, love the effort. Keep at it.

      • Josh G

        April 9, 2012 at 8:23 pm

        I had only seen his name in passing (I have Graham, so I dont truly need Housler as of yet), but I wonder why your voice isnt in the rankings..as the 4 people on this site have him either unranked (2x), 26 and 41 for an average rank of 44..nowhere near the top 20, and likely not on many people’s immediate radar..at least until this article gets read by a few more people! 🙂

  2. DLF_KenK

    April 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    One thing we’ve really tried hard to do is create a wide variety of different types of articles over the past few months. Some may be right in your wheelhouse and some may not. Some are player based (interviews, spotlights, dilemmas), some are team based (strategy, commish, etc.) some are draft specific (mock drafts, draft duels, etc.) and some are just plain quirky (DynastyMania). Our polls and comments lead us to believe that mix is important, even if some of those may not hit your own personal #1 topic each day.

    The great thing is the volume of worthy content we’ve produced this year, I believe, is unmatched in the industry…by anyone, really.

    So far this year, we’ve produced 78 different articles, including 39 since March 1st – that’s right around one every day. While some other sites may have come relatively close to the quantity of posts, we’ve received many comments saying the quality has been unrivaled. Our articles have never been one or two paragraphs long with no real opinion or just filler. It’s just not what we’re all about.

    This comment actually gets me kind of excited!

    Our followers are actually expecting content from us on a DAILY basis now. We’ve never had those kind of expectations before and are certainly doing our best to provide the highest balance of quantity and quality during the offseason. While we may not have a post EVERY day, we’re really coming close. In fact, Wednesday will mark our 500th article since the middle of 2010 and, like I said, we’ve had 39 since March 1st.

    I think we’ve done well so far! Keep the expectations high – we’re doing our best to reach them.

    • tidewaterjc

      April 9, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      This is by far the best collection of FF minds I’ve found, coupled with some great articles. Been tracking Housler since the 2011 Rookie Draft – thanks for shinning a spotlight on him 🙁

    • clarion contrarion

      April 9, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      daily, !
      I check every hour or two – but then I should probably get a life that doesn’t involve spending 4-6 hours a day of football related info

      • DLF_KenK

        April 10, 2012 at 12:59 am

        That’s no life any of us want to live.

  3. tebow

    April 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    even though i never heard of this guy before i still read it and now he is on my radar! i told my league mates about your website and now everyone is a daily follower. i like that the guys that run this site take us reader’s ideas seriously and have new content everyday,it really means a lot to us followers.

  4. tebow

    April 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    even though i never heard of this guy before i still read it and now he is on my radar! i told my league mates about your website and now everyone is a daily follower. i like that the guys that run this site take us reader’s ideas seriously and take the time to answer our trade/draft questions,it really means a lot to us followers.

    • clarion contrarion

      April 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm

      ideally you should tell yerv friends abiout yahoo or cbs or fantasyfootballxtreme or one of the other B- TEAMERS and keep this site for yourself

      wise up & win

      • Josh G

        April 9, 2012 at 8:19 pm

        Yep, I dont tell anyone in my league about this or rotoworld (not half as good articles..but certainly very quick response for player news)..however this can backfire..

        For example..I tried to trade Jacoby Ford for another player before the beginning of LAST year..and half of the league threw a fit because none of them knew who Jacoby Ford was. If they had visited a decent fantasy site such as this, instead of merely Yahoo, theyd have known he was a good sleeper at the time…etc

  5. Hungry For Content

    April 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    That’s all it is… we just can’t get enough. As soon as I found this site it instantly because my #1 dynasty league site. I just keep finding myself coming here multiple times a day and wish there was more to read! I”’ even open up a thread looking for new comments trying to find something I haven’t ready before.

    GO DLF GO!

  6. Paymon Shokoohi

    April 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    I respect anyone’s opinion if they feel an article is “boring” or uninteresting to them. But you have to understand this site is read by thousands of people. That’s why there are MANY different types of content. Some will like player interviews and some will not. Point is we have to understand that it’s ok to not like everything but respect that other people may appreciate it.

    • Zzzzzzzzz

      April 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm

      Agreed. Without my original comment I still think there would be no (or very few in comparision to others) comments on this thread.

  7. mr rourke

    April 9, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    I’ve been carrying Housler in deep leagues and I like him. I’m not too excited about him being put on other people’s radar, but that’s the job of this site.

    Housler has elite TE upside. He’s fast, has great hands, and can make the big catch. He got some playing time this year due to injury’s ahead of him on the depth chart, but he wasn’t really ready. TE is a very tough position to pick up and having a rookie be able to pick everything up and perform at a high level with no offseason is something that you can’t have high expectations for. He should make great strides this coming year with an offseason to learn.

  8. jerrys kids

    April 9, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    i agree that he has a great chance at a break out and it all comes down to no competition. with no real talent in his way as of now a quality game or 2 to start the season and he can quickly be come a hot commodity.

  9. @chriscrane27

    April 10, 2012 at 12:59 am

    The minute the Cardinals drafted him he was on my radar (meaning I was going to draft him)… but when the Cardinals signed FA Todd Heap (FA in 2013) I said “darn” and decided to wait to 2012 to reopen the books on Housler. Housler ran the fastest 40 among TEs at the 2011 combine. Now the 40 doesn’t always translate into fantasy success but then Kolb came along. Geaux (yes I’m from south Louisiana) look at Brent Celeks 2010 numbers when Kevin Kolb wasn’t eating cheesesteaks on the sidelines, but played in 7 games.

    Week 1 Kolb gets hurt…

    Week 4 Loss v Washington… Celek 3 receptions, 27 yards, 1 td, on 7 targets.
    Week 5 Win at SF… Celek 3 receptions, 47 yards, 1 td, on 9 targets.
    Week 6 Win v Atlanta… Celek 4 receptions, 46 yards, 0 td, 7 targets.
    Week 7 Loss at Tenn… Celek 2 receptions, 8 yards, 0 td, 5 targets.

    Scratch week 17 when Philly rested players, Celek, but started Kolb.
    Cant find the other week Kolb played because he didn’t throw so screw it.

    Celek tallied 12 receptions, over 100 yards, 2 tds, on 28 targets. Now as most fantasy people forget fantasy football is all about opportunity. Celek had 28 opportunities to score while Kolb was QB for really 4 games. Thats 7 opportunities per game. Multiply that x 16 = 112 targets if Kolb stays healthy. That is speculation but sometimes its okay to speculate. See Gas Prices. Celek played 15 games in 2010. Vick was his QB 11 of those weeks and tallied 50 receptions averaging 4.5 targets per week. 3.5 difference in favor of Kolb.

    Overall = Housler is worth a stash in a dynasty format depending on roster limits. He may not be the next Gronk Jimmy. Yeah you may have a top 5 TE but what do you have behind him? Dickson? Miller? Kendricks? Rudolph? etc…. Those are decent TE2s but remember fantasy football is all about filling your roster with studs and potential. So when Housler has a breakout game and he’s your 3rd maybe 4th TE someone may offer you a 1st rounder! Ive seen crazier things happen in dynasty league football… just type ACCEPT on your cell phone and send that text.

    @chriscrane27

  10. Robert

    April 10, 2012 at 1:04 am

    As a Housler owner I read the article with a lot of interest. Since my TE situation is not something to cheer about, this article sounds like music to my ears.

    Only thing I have to do now is keep my fingers crossed hoping that everything goes according to plan… If he doesn’t pan out and I’m left “devasted”, I blame it all on Steve for giving me some false hope LOL.

  11. sixshooter

    April 23, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Wow! I am a bit stumped by the criticism over this article. I actually picked this guy up in our dynasty league “after” another team dropped him because I can see his potential. Also a bit surprised that not many have heard of him until now which, to me, makes this article even more valuable. I would much rather read an article on a lesser known player than read over and over and over again about how the Saints TE was a former basketball player who transitioned to the pro’s with a ton of success. Duh……we all know what Jimmy Graham has done. And….I guess we all should know that this years’ TE rookie class is extremely weak and many are going to consider reaching for a Coby Fleener just because he is a higher ranked rookie TE and I think they are going to be disappointed. If there ever was a good year to pass on TE in the rookie draft….this is the year!!!

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