Tight end has become one of the biggest game changing positions in the NFL in recent years. The Chicago Bears once had a tight end who may not have been the best blocker in the world, but was pretty reliable, in Greg Olsen. But former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo decided it best to listen to then offensive coordinator Mike Martz and traded Olsen to the Carolina Panthers prior to the 2011 season. What a mistake that has proven to be.
The days of the big blocking tight end who can’t catch are long gone in the NFL. In today’s NFL, a tight end is more valuable for his receiving skills and not for his blocking. When the Bears drafted Olsen in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft, they were getting a big strong tight end who was not afraid to go over the middle to make the big catch.
Olsen sustained some huge hits during his final season with the Bears in 2010 that slowed his progress a bit. These hits also appeared to make him a bit gun shy about going over the middle in the middle of the season. However, late in that season he was back to his dominant ways, helping lead the way to the 2010 NFC Championship game.
That’s not to mention that Olsen and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler developed a strong friendship nearly from the moment that Cutler arrived in Chicago. Whenever in trouble, Cutler seemed to be able to find Olsen for a quick dump off, much like how Cutler looked for Brandon Marshall this past season. Cutler is the type of quarterback who, when he likes and trusts a player, you see him look to get the ball to that guy as often as possible.
In the summer of 2011, Martz decided he needed a big blocking tight end to make his offense successful and that Olsen no longer fit the offensive scheme in Chicago. So off went Olsen to the Panthers for a third round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and thus began the Bears’ problems from the tight end position. Did I forget to mention that Martz was fired following the 2011 season and that third round pick went to drafting oft injured safety Brandon Hardin, who missed the entire 2012 season with a neck injury suffered in a preseason game.
Olsen has gone on to be one of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton‘s favorite targets. The Bears have struggled majorly the past two seasons without a reliable tight end to keep the offense moving in key situations. Along with the offensive line, the Bears are going to have to address the tight end position ether through free agency or the draft. Had the Bears not made such a terrible trade two years ago, they may not have to worry about tight end as they would already have one of the better tight ends in the league already on the roster.