As the Browns look for ways to pump more life into an anemic pass offense, they are considering bringing the tight ends back into the picture for the game against Jacksonville on Sunday in Cleveland Browns Stadium.
It was the Dilfer-Shea combination that opened eyes to how tight end friendly the Browns would be under new offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon. A pectoral injury kept Shea out of the first three regular-season games, but when he returned, he caught six passes against the Bears and three the next week against the Ravens.
Shea caught one pass against the Lions, one against the Texans, and none in each of the last four games. Starting tight end Steve Heiden did catch four passes against the Dolphins for 31 yards and five against Minnesota for 55 yards, but he hasn't seen the end zone since catching two touchdown passes against the Packers the second week of the season.
"All I care about is whether we win," Shea said. "I'm a team player. I keep my mouth shut and run the routes I'm told to run.
"It's frustrating. I ain't going to lie to you, but it's also one of those things that if we're winning, it's for the betterment of the team."
Shea has been more involved as a blocker since Reuben Droughns has become a featured part of the offense. Also, rookie receiver Braylon Edwards has taken on a bigger role in recent weeks. He caught six passes against the Dolphins and four against the Vikings.
The Browns are averaging 58 offensive plays per game, and their average time of possession of 27:26 is among the lowest in the league. Getting passes to the tight ends is a way to keep the chains moving.
"Teams go through ebbs and flows," Dilfer said. "It's kind of like our red-zone offense and third-down offense -- we're not great yet. We're working on it.
"Part of jelling and molding as an offense is finding your identity with ball distribution. We want to get the ball to the tight ends, to the H-back person like Aaron, but you grow into doing that. It's a challenge when you want to get the ball to your running back 25 or 30 times. I think the secret to this system forever has been unselfishness from each player, including the quarterback."
Dilfer said each game fits a different profile that suits one aspect of the offense more than the others. Once the Browns reach the point of exploiting those situations they will be unpredictable, but that is a work in progress, Dilfer said.