- When you think of the New York Jets offense, several players immediately come to mind.
There's Chad Pennington, Curtis Martin, Wayne Chrebet, Lamont Jordan, Santana Moss...even newcomer Curtis Conway.
Hey, wait a minute. That's a quarterback along with a couple of running backs and wide receivers. What about the tight end?
For whatever reason, Anthony Becht doesn't get his due when it comes time for roll call. Through no fault of his own, he has been somewhat of an afterthought in the West Coast offense. Becht just happens to have a defined role in Paul Hackett's scheme: mainly blocking and catching the occasional ball.
Unfortunately for Becht, he also just so happens to play with an array of offensive talent. After all, there's only one football to go around.
"I think with the opportunities that I've been able to get since being a Jet, I've taken advantage of most of them," says Becht, entering his fourth season as the starter. "As far as being a 60-catch a year guy and things fans want me to be, it's a little tough because we have a lot of guys who want to get the ball also - like Wayne Chrebet and Curtis Martin.
"I just play my role the best I can. As far as the numbers go, I'll probably never be what everyone wants me to be. But as far as being the complete tight end, I think I fill that role pretty well."
Highly touted as the Jets fourth of four first round draft picks in 2000, Becht, who was the second tight end selected at No. 27 - Green Bay tabbed Bubba Franks with the 14th pick - has yet to shine in the green and white.
He's had moderate success, highlighted by a 36 reception, five touchdown, 321-yard season in 2001. But he hasn't had that breakout year. The one that places him in the upper echelon of tight ends in the game.
It also doesn't help that there's a guy who plays the same position and who plays in the same building named Shockey - a guy who has taken the league by storm. Take a walk around the greater Metropolitan area and you'll see hundreds of blue No. 80 jerseys. Not too many green No. 88's.
Fans being fans, Gang Green's faithful have been waiting on Becht to deliver on his God-given ability. Sometimes patiently. Other times, not so patiently. When you stand 6-foot-5 and weigh 272 pounds, people expect the second coming of Dave Casper. They'd even settle for Mickey Shuler reincarnated.
"That's football," Becht says. "They're out there and they want to see all the touchdowns and the big catches. There's a lot that goes into a pro offense. All in all, it's a great place to play. The fan support is great. I wouldn't want to play anywhere else. I enjoy playing for the Jets and having them as our fans."
Despite the lack of respect, Becht is a firm believer that he possesses all the tools of an elite tight end. He remains confident that he can be a viable and dangerous option.
"I can catch, block, and run routes well," he says. "I also help get other guys open by being a decoy. I just want to bring versatility to the table when I'm on the field."
That versatility may finally blossom this season. It better, with second-year man Chris Baker waiting in the wings.
While the big question in the NFL, and specifically New York, has asked how the Jets' offense will compensate for the loss of wide receiver Laveranues Coles, Becht is of the belief that everything will be just fine.
The rest of the guys will have to pick up the slack. What's more, there will be more opportunities for everyone.
"With the acquisition of Curtis Conway, he's definitely going to give us a lot of help," Becht says. "He's in great shape. He's done well so far. Obviously Wayne and Santana are going to be huge. Hopefully my role will be expanded with Richie [Anderson] being gone. There are a lot of balls that need to be caught this year. So hopefully I'll be on the receiving end of some of them."
If Becht remains a bystander in the offense it won't be for a lack of effort. He says he's had one of his better offseason's since joining the Jets out of West Virginia. He's worked extensively on speed and quickness training in order to improve his route running.
Now, he, and his teammates are expecting to take their games to the next level.
"We need to start out of the gate faster," says Becht. "We've come close the last two seasons. We had some changes both those years and we had some changes this year. I don't think it's going to affect us as far as continuity. We just have to continue to come out and do the things we do well. And hopefully we'll win as many games as we can and get to where we want to go."