Last year, C.J. Fiedorowicz set a goal of 40 receptions for the season, more than double what he caught in 2015 (17).
Not only did the Texans tight end reach his target, he exceeded it and had breakout year. Fiedorowicz set career highs in receptions (54), receiving yards (559), yards per reception (10.4) and touchdowns (4). In fact, the Texans tight ends had their most productive season in franchise history in 2016.
Fiedorowicz, now in his fourth season, is aiming even higher in 2017.
"I had a good season last year," Fiedorowicz said. "I want to build off that. I had 54 (receptions), I'd shoot for 64, 65. That's obviously a goal. Just coming in here and work every day and just prove to the quarterbacks that I'm a reliable target and just catch every pass that comes my way."
While numbers don't lie, Fiedorowicz wants to improve more than just his statistics. He has worked on developing his skill set around all that is required of tight ends in the Texans offense. For his position group, success is more than just the ability to make big catches.
"I've always built my game around being a dual-threat tight end," Fiedorowicz said. "No one really likes blocking but you've got to want to block. You've got to want to do something for your team. I've always been the guy to set the edge or you know, stick my head in there on the run but I think these last two years i've really learned a lot in the passing game and I just want to be a dual-threat guy."
Since entering the NFL, Fiedorowicz has quietly worked every offseason to improve. The son of a powerlifter, the 6-5, 265-pound Fiedorowicz is an imposing figure on the field. He balances his strength with activities like yoga, to preserve his body and improve flexibility. Inactive for just two games in his three NFL seasons, Fiedorowicz is a combination of both mental and physical toughness.
"C.J.'s a good player," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "He's a tough guy. He had a really good year for us last year. He's trying to build on that this year. He comes to work every day. I know he doesn't always feel great because of what we ask him to do. He plays a very physical game but he's out here every day, working. He's a big part of what we do."
Since 2015, the tight ends as a group improved by an NFL best of 102 targets, 74 receptions, and 4.6 receptions per game. Fiedorowicz's four touchdowns last season tied for the team lead while his receiving touchdown in the AFC Divisional round at New England made him the first tight end in Texans postseason history to score.
"That just gives me the confidence to go out here and make plays, gives the quarterbacks confidence in me," Fiedorowicz said of his performance last year. "I'm building a good relationship with Tom (Savage), Deshaun (Watson), both throwing great balls out here. Now that I've established myself, I feel like the tight ends are going to be a big part of the offense and it's going to keep coming our way."