Many would argue that the Bears last truly productive tight end was "the coach" Mike Ditka. Since Ditka's playing time ended in Chicago, the tight end has been the "revolving door" position of Chicago's offense. After years and years of struggling to find a tight end in Chicago, nothing has changed this season. In the last ten years, the Bears have drafted six different tight ends to fill the void, going as far as spending it's first overall pick of the draft on tight end John Allred. Thus far, Allred's best NFL season was in 1999 where he caught 13 passes for 102 yards and one touchdown. Abysmal numbers such as these have sent him and numerous other Bear tight ends out the revolving door during the 90's and early 2000's.
So who's next out that door? In 2002 the Bears drafted out of UCLA, TE Bryan Fletcher, only to cut him soon after training camp started. They also brought in free agent tight end Luther Broughton who they had expected to compete for the starting position this year only to cut him during training camp because of a lack of production in training camp and preseason.
It's now the 2002 season, and despite a training camp full of optimism about the tight end position, the production there seems to be as lackluster as ever. Through the first two games of the season, the offense has struggled putting up points with out the help of turnovers thanks to a stingy defense. The tight ends have not helped the offense in their cause. So far this season, the position's leading pass catcher is Davis with a miniscule two catches for forty-seven yards.
Currently, the Bears have three tight ends on the roster, the aforementioned Davis, along with veteran Fred Baxter and third year man Dustin Lyman. Though the Bears have started out 2-0, a tight end is still critical in the red-zone as well as in freeing up space for other receivers by occupying defenders on the field. The tight end can be an effective tool in an offense if used properly, but for many years the Bears have been void of a productive tight end.
This season, the New York Giants offense has opened up its once-dull passing attack thanks to the presence of rookie tight end Jeremy Shockey. The Giants have lined up Shockey as a receiver forcing the defense either to place a cornerback on him or have a miss-match with a linebacker covering the speedy tight end. In the New York Giants upset victory over the 2001 NFC champion Rams in St. Louis, Shockey had four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown, while opening up the offense for their top two receivers to gain over 90 yards receiving each.
The Bears must continue to add to their growing offense by obtaining and implementing a tight end into their offense. In what looks like another season of futility at the tight end position, look for the Bears to get their hands on a tight end in the 2003 free agency period, or the NFL draft.