Carolina Panthers tight end, Greg Olsen has been awarded his first USA TODAY Sports “All Joe” team award. The honor is given to players that earn the respect of the company as well as the rest of the Associated Press but yet have never been awarded a trip to the Pro Bowl. While the award isn’t one that an NFL player would brag about the most at the end of his career, it is quickly becoming an honor none the less. The “All Joe” team has been given out by USA TODAY Sports for 21 years.
Olsen, a first round draft pick, has been in the league six seasons and hasn’t missed a game since his rookie year with the Chicago Bears. The Bears eventually traded Olsen following their 2010 season to the Panthers for a third round pick in 2012. The move wasn’t too surprising for Bears fans and experts as Olsen was set to reach free agency and was widely considered to be too expensive to keep. His blocking was arguably borderline terrible as well.
Olsen has always been a receiving tight end. With the addition of offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the Bears quickly lost interest in Olsen. He saw his targets steadily increase over a three year period from his rookie season until Martz was hired. In his only season with Martz as coach, Olsen saw his targets drop drastically. Without the ability to block, Olsen was shipped to Carolina. The Bears packaged that pick along with their own third rounder in 2012 for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
In six seasons, Olsen has found his stat line at a solid “All Joe” average of about 50 catches. Take his rookie season out of the equation and Olsen has scored at least five touchdowns every season. This year, Olsen caught 42 first down balls, doubling his traditional totals. He also saw his highest yards per catch average at 12.2 in addition to his highest yardage total at 843.
Olsen makes this team what it is. He is a very solid player. You can count on the guy. He’s not elite but that isn’t what the honor is for. The award is unique because there are many players lucky enough to play the game many seasons yet never see the accolades of an All Pro. They do their job and do it well, not mediocre. Greg Olsen is a perfect candidate for the 2012 USA TODAY Sports “All Joe” team.