Tight End has become the most talked about position on the Chicago Bears since Mike Martz took over as coordinator. The stigma of being not friendly to the position is something that has followed Martz around since he's been calling plays. But aside from Vernon Davis in San Francisco (who was a grade A tool) he hasn't had a collective group as talented as the Bears TEs. He still expects his group to be good blockers, but he also realizes the skill set he has in them, and taking advantage of their talents would be the wise thing to do.
Last season, the Bears started the season carrying four tight ends, and I'd expect them to do the same in 2010. Last week Mike Meuller had an awesome overview of the Bears roster (link will pop), and in the coming weeks I'll take an individual look at the position groups.
The Martz offense utilizes 2 types of TEs, the traditional inline TE and more versatile H-Back. In the latest depth chart, Greg Olsen topped the chart at TE and Desmond Clark was #1 at H-Back. If I'm making some Bears football predictions, I'm thinking free agent acquisition Brandon Manumaleuna is a sure bet to take over as #1 H-Back once healthy and Olsen will continue to be the "man" at TE. Clark will see time at both spots (even though he's not listed as a TE on the depth chart), and Kellen Davis probably will get his playing time solely at TE. Manu isn't listed as an H-Back on the depth chart, but he's done that in the past, as well as play TE. I think his versatility will allow him to do both. Richard Angulo, currently listed #4 as a TE, is a long shot to stick unless he really makes a big impression as a blocker these next few weeks.
Martz offenses in the past didn't use a traditional fullback very often, however in this weekend's preseason game there sure was a lot of Will Ta'ufo'ou on the field. Officially he's listed at #2 as an H-Back, but he's a FB. I think the Bears feel they have a lot of interchangeable parts in their TE/FB group. It wouldn't surprise me to see them keep a combination of 5 on the roster. (But more on the fullbacks when I look at the running backs on Thursday.)
But the really hot topic is how much action Olsen will see in the passing game. Can he come anywhere near his numbers from last season? Last year Greg Olsen looked splendid in training camp, then went out and had his best year as a pro. And he still had his fair share of critics. Now in this year's camp he's finally starting to see some balls thrown his way, and Martz claims he's going to be a viable option in the passing attack... but will he really be? No TE catches in preseason week 1 for Chicago. I think Olsen is a good player, but I have my doubts as to how many receptions he'll get. I think Olsen will need to learn H-Back as well, that way the Bears will be able to move him around the offense even more. And I still think Olsen is on the trade block. I don't think they are actively looking to move him, but if a team loses a TE this preseason I can see the Bears willing to listen to any offers that may come.