While Olsen did catch 60 passes for 612 yards and eight touchdowns, all career-highs for the former first-round pick, Oakland's Zach Miller had more receptions (66), Green Bay's Jermichael Finley had more yards (676) and Minnesota's Visanthe Shiancoe had more TDs (11). None of the aforementioned tight ends even made the Pro Bowl, with San Francisco's Vernon Davis and Dallas' Jason Witten representing the NFC and Indianapolis' Dallas Clark and San Diego's Antonio Gates going from the AFC. All the more disappointing, Olsen dropped a lot of bang-bang balls just after contact downfield that could have resulted in big plays – big plays this offense was expecting from him but by in large didn't get.
As for Olsen's backups, Desmond Clark missed five contests and only reeled in 19 passes as a result, and even though Kellen Davis scored the first three touchdowns of his career, the 6-7, 262-pounder still isn't much of a blocker.
Inside the Numbers
Not only does Olsen need to become a more well-rounded player if he wants to make the leap into elite status in this league, but the coaching staff needs do a better job taking advantage of what the 6-5, 252-pounder does well. Instead of forcing him to block bigger and stronger defensive ends on running plays and sending him on so many short patterns on passing plays, accept the fact that he's not a strong blocker and exploit the mismatches he creates with linebackers and safeties down the field. With Turner out of the picture, perhaps a new offensive coordinator – a replacement is yet to be hired – will take the shackles off Olsen and get more out of him.
The Bears kept Michael Gaines on the 53-man roster coming out of the preseason to motivate Davis, but after Gaines was released Oct. 17, Davis continued to disappoint and may not be the No. 3 this team needs.
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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
2009 Position by Position Review: TE
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