Last season, Greg Olsen produced solid offensive numbers (60 catches, 612 yards, 8 touchdowns), but he struggled with the rest of the crew to block consistently. Desmond Clark's career is reaching its twilight, and Kellen Davis has not been able to adapt to his duties as a pass blocker. The Bears made a great move to address that issue by signing top-tier quarterback protector Brandon Manumaleuna. Trade rumors have buzzed around Olsen with the addition of offensive coordinator Mike Martz, but a recent endorsement by management has negated the hearsay – for now. Davis' best attribute is his receiving abilities, but unless the Bears cut ties with Clark, his playing time will be limited.
Olsen is one of the premier receiving tight ends in the NFL, but the pass-happy – except to tight ends – Martz may not utilize Olsen as frequently as he should. Olsen has increased his yardage and touchdowns in each of his three NFL seasons, putting him on pace for 700-plus yards and 10 TDs. If Olsen sees a dramatic decrease in production, you can almost certainly put the blame on Martz. Davis, at 6-7 and 267 pounds, is a huge target that also has decent hands. He should battle Clark, assuming he is not cut, for the final tight end position behind Olsen and Manumaleuna. It will be interesting to see how Martz utilizes the pass-catching tight ends in the upcoming season.
With the exception of Manumaleuna, the Bears tight ends are fairly poor pass blockers. While adding Manumaleuna was a fantastic move, they will need the rest of the group to step up, as well. Davis is a notoriously bad pass protector, and his inept blocking is the only issue that has kept him from seeing the field more frequently. Martz's playbook should be categorized as a weakness for this portion of the offense. His penchant for four- and five-receiver sets will certainly not bode well for the tight ends. In Martz's system, players at the tight end position average a meager 200-300 yards per season. The year following Martz's departure, the 49ers' Vernon Davis saw his production more than double.
TE Kellen Davis
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel
Olsen is a rare talent and still young enough to one day challenge the 1000-yard barrier. All of that will depend on how Martz decides to use his skillful tight end. Davis is a project player that could also develop into a quality option. Manumaleuna was a great signing by the Bears but is fairly one-dimensional. It just so happens it is the exact element the Bears needed. Clark is old and coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. When the Bears make their final cuts at the position, he should be the first to go.
The Bears have the foundation for one of the better tight end squads in the league. Their glaring blocking weakness has been improved by the addition of Manumaleuna. If Davis can make improvements during the offseason, it will undoubtedly make Clark expendable. If any tight end can thrive in Martz's system, it would be the speedy Olsen. However, the question remains: Can any tight end coexist successfully with the Bears' newest offensive coordinator?
The Bears rank ninth overall at the tight end position. Right behind them are the Minnesota Vikings. Directly in front of them are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Green Bay Packers rank 11th, and the Detroit Lions rank 30th. The San Francisco 49ers currently have the No. 1 tight end situation.
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