With Olsen in his control, will Martz change how he utilizes TEs?

 
 
  • Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith,  talks with Mike Marks.

    Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith, talks with Mike Marks. Associated Press

  •  Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen turns toward the crowd after catching a touchdown pass against the Minnesota Vikings.

    Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen turns toward the crowd after catching a touchdown pass against the Minnesota Vikings. John Starks | Staff Photographer

Published: 3/20/2010 3:41 PM | Updated: 3/20/2010 3:43 PM

For the most part, Mike Martz tight ends have been run-blockers and pass-protectors first and foremost.

But when Martz was hired by the Bears last month, he seemed open to the idea of utilizing Greg Olsen's skills as a pass catcher.

"You take a look at what you have at tight end and who that guy is and what he can do, and then you go from there," Martz said. "In the past, we've always had these big, physical tight ends, who we tried to utilize in the running game and as pass blockers and then as wide receivers. Greg is different."

Olsen's statistics in 2009 weren't spectacular, but they exceeded the combined totals for all tight ends in each of the seven seasons that Martz was in St. Louis.

Despite the Rams' prolific passing numbers, the combined number of catches by St. Louis tight ends never topped 50 under Martz. In 2000, all Rams tight ends combined caught a total of just 21 passes, and in 2004 and 2005 they caught only 22 passes.

Martz realizes Olsen is a different kind of tight end than what he's had in the past, and that Olsen could be used more extensively as a receiver, he still has to be able to block.

"When you can get a defense with normal personnel, and then move (Olsen) like you would a receiver in the slot and get him matched up on linebackers and safeties," Martz said, "it's going to be a mismatch.

"Then, with his ability to stand in there and slug it out, he's a complete player at that position, which is multi-dimensional."

It may be wishful thinking on Martz's part to believe that Olsen is an effective blocker or a complete player, and the acquisition of the 295-pound Brandon Manumaleuna seems to cast doubt on Olsen's blocking ability. But the 6-foot-5, 255-pound three-year veteran has the size and athleticism to at least become a decent blocker.

"(Olsen) is a little bit like Ernie Conwell," Martz said, "but he's a little bit more fluid than Ernie was. Ernie was a very physical player, and he had speed. Because Greg has such great body control and is a fluid route-runner, there are so many things that he can do, which is something I've not experienced yet."

Tight ends kept on the blocks

Here are the unhappy totals - if you're a tight end - for the St. Louis Rams under Mike Martz, the new offensive coordinator for the Bears next season:

Year Tight ends REC. YDS. AVG. TDS

1999 Roland Williams 25 226 9.0 6

Jeff Robinson 6 76 12.7 0

Chad Lewis 1 12 12.0 0

Ernie Conwell 1 11 11.0 0

Totals 33 325 9.9 6

2000 Roland Williams 11 102 9.3 3

Jeff Robinson 5 52 10.4 0

Ernie Conwell 5 40 8.0 0

Totals 21 194 9.2 3

2001 Ernie Conwell 38 431 11.3 4

Jeff Robinson 11 108 9.8 1

B. Manumaleuna 1 1 1.0 1

Totals 50 540 10.8 6

2002 Ernie Conwell 34 419 12.3 2

Brandon Manumaleuna 8 106 13.3 1

Totals 42 525 12.5 3

2003 B. Manumaleuna 29 238 8.2 2

Cameron Cleeland 10 145 14.5 0

Spencer Nead 1 6 6.0 0

Totals 40 389 9.7 2

2004 B. Manumaleuna 15 174 11.6 1

Cameron Cleeland 7 57 8.1 0

Totals 22 231 10.5 1

2005* B. Manumaleuna 13 129 9.9 1

Cameron Cleeland 5 17 3.4 1

Roland Williams 3 21 7.0 0

Jeff Robinson 1 28 28.0 0

Totals 22 195 8.8 2

* Martz was fired as head coach after five games.