Drafting a first round offensive threat is a hit-or-miss kind of thing. Contrary to popular belief, Jerry Angelo has been hitting the bulls-eye, he's just been shooting blanks. But, according to the law of... shooting blanks, keep firing off, you're likely to make a dent. That "dent" happens to be 2007 first round pick Greg Olsen (wow, I'm complementing Olsen by calling him a dent... the things the Bears make me say). This year Olsen took some major strides into becoming the Bears best option at receiver, YEAH, I SAID IT. RECEIVER!
Olsen has continued the trend of Pro-Bowl caliber TE's drafted out of Miami (still not as good as Georgia's TE factory). Shockey, K2, Bubba, and Kevin Everett were also products straight out of the U. I saw the Bears become very creative using Olsen last season; lining him at split receiver, working the slot position, fullback, H-back, they had him all over the field. I was waiting to see if they were gonna let him return punts. there's going to be naysayers out there, but even they can't deny that on a subpar offense, Greg took a huge leap (excuse the pun) in 2008.
Let's look at his statistics: 54 catches (second to Forte), 574 yards (second to Hester), 10.6 yards per catch (second for those with 50+ catches), and five touchdown grabs (first). While number like those won't catch the eye of your average NFL fan, WE BEARS FANS know when there's talent on our offense. But statistics are for liars, and with that said, there's so much more than sheer numbers that show how Olsen has greatly improved from his rookie year.
The first major improvement would be him in the run game. We saw him more physical on the line, helping the tackles shove off defensive ends and linebackers alike. The main knock against these quick athletic tight ends is that they can't support the run. Olsen can do that. Olsen can do it all.
The second improvement is his pass catching ability. In 2007 there were times he would drop key third down passes, and other times it looked like he wasn't even trying to go after the ball. I was all but ready to chalk up another first round bust in the Angelo era. It even carried on to this season in Carolina, when he fumbled away two impressive (almost certain scoring) drives that cost the Bears that game. As the season progressed the amount of times he was targeted increased greatly. SI.com's stat report says he was targeted 82 times. second to Hester's 91.
Let's break it down, shall we: Olsen caught 54 passes of the 82 thrown to him which means he caught (hold on let me dial this up) 65.9 percent of the passes intended for him. Devin Hester caught 51 of the 91 passes intended for him which comes out to (calculating...) 56.0 percent. So, one can argue that #82 was the even bigger threat in the air and the one who most improved.
Some more food for thought....both games against the Vikings (not Viqueens; gotta stay professional) last season: The first game was statistically his best effort of the season. Six catches, seventy-four yards one TD and the Bears scored a season high 48 points. The second game, not so good. 1 catch for seven yards and the Bears score 14 points, their second lowest score of the season. I'm no coach but I'm sure a couple quick outs to Greg could had countered that Vikings pass rush led by Jared Allen's three sacks.
There is a reason why I am writing about Greg Olsen. These past few weeks, I've heard nothing but grumbling (my polite way of saying bitching) about drafting a wide receiver or signing one in free agency. YES, our receivers are crap. YES, we need to bring in a wideout and YES, i wanna see Brandon Rideau. NO, Devin is not our answer. I do know one thing, having a dependable WR will enhance the big play capabilities of one I believe could become the best tight end in the league. Witten has T.O. Cooley has Moss, Gates has Vincent Jackson and Chambers. The question is who will Olsen have?