Chicago Bears Tice reintroducing tight ends into passing game
After 2 years of being ignored by Martz, Davis and Co. can expect bigger role
By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune reporter
6:32 p.m. CDT, August 2, 2012
BOURBONNAIS — Just like his successor Mike Tice, former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz was a tight end in his playing days.
But the men have much different visions for the position in today's NFL. Tight ends were forgotten when it came to pass receiving while Martz ran the show the last two seasons, particularly after Greg Olsen was traded.
Martz believed in using tight ends to block, while most of the league's top offenses are throwing to them more than ever. Nine tight ends had 75 receptions or more last season, and 14 had 750 yards or more. Bears tight ends, however, combined for an NFL-low 25 receptions for 256 yards and seven touchdowns.
Everyone involved has pledged that will change, but it's unclear how things will shake out with four tight ends expected to make the roster: Kellen Davis, Matt Spaeth, Evan Rodriguez and Kyle Adams.
Davis, who is atop the depth chart, has been a reliable red-zone target — maybe because of the surprise element — with nine of his 28 career receptions going for touchdowns. Those numbers are miniscule compared with the opportunities for players such as the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski and the Saints' Jimmy Graham.
The Bears have missed out because the position has become an integral part of passing attacks. It challenges defenses that want to blitz with a mismatch. How do you defend a big body that can stretch the field vertically and beat safeties and linebackers alike? Big targets are easy for quarterbacks to find too.
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