I think about 95% of all Chicago Bears fans will agree with me when I say; Kellen Davis has been a major disappointment. The 6'7", 260 pound, athletically gifted tight end just hasn't shown the consistency the Bears need from the position. He has all the physical traits you'd want in a tight end, he just has struggled with the whole catch the ball thing.
I really expected Davis to take a major step in play with the new offense. I figured, as did many fans, that with the shackles of the Martsfense removed, that Davis would thrive. He hasn't. In fact, I think he may have regressed.
Last year Kellen Davis had a scant 18 receptions for 206 yards and 5 TDs in all 16 games playing for Mike Martz. This year through 9 games, in a more TE friendly Mike Tice offense, he has 11 catches for 150 yards and 2 TDs. In 2011 he was targeted 1.9 times per game, and this year he's targeted 2.9 times per game. He's on pace for roughly the same production as last year, but he's being targeted more. It's not just his work as a receiver that's not up to par.
According to Pro Football Focus, his overall run block grade is a -5.1 for the season. In 2011 he was a +4.9 as a run blocker. He still has time to right the ship, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him start to lose a few snaps here and there. PFF has graded 55 tight ends that have taken at least 25% of their team's snaps, and Davis is checking in at number 55.
The sad thing about the the Bears TE situation is there isn't a better option on the roster. Matt Spaeth isn't much of a receiving threat, although he's a better blocker. Kyle Adams hasn't shown the ability to thrive as an inline blocker, but the scouting report on him claims he has good hands. Until Adams has more playing time, the jury's out on his potential.
And then there's Brody Eldridge, who hasn't even been given a photo on his Bears bio page yet. Eldridge played some offensive line in college, so you can guess his strengths. Psst, it's probably not catching. (Ed; Brody was cut)
The Bears do have one more TE candidate in Evan Rodriguez. He has the collegiate pedigree to be a pass catching tight end, but the Bears started the season committed to making the rookie 6'2", 239 pounder a fullback. Which I was fine with, just throw the kid a bone on occasion with a pass or two. Last night Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune was reporting that the Bears will work Rodriguez in at tight end this week in practice. I believe he could catch the ball, but his blocking worries me.
Which leads us to potential street free agent tight ends, Kellen Winslow Jr. and Jeremy Shockey. How sad is it that it's come down to discussing these two players? Winslow asked for his release from New England earlier this year, and his balky knee has seen better days. He may not even want to play if a team comes calling.
Jeremy Shockey on the other hand, seems to have been frozen out of the NFL due to being the "snitch" that blew the whistle on the New Orleans bounty scandal. He denies the allegation, but it could be keeping him out of the league after a solid 2011 season in Carolina. Then again, he has been know to be a problem in the locker room so that could be keeping him unsigned as well.
If Shockey is healthy, and all indications are that he is, he would be an upgrade for Chicago. The questions about him would be; Could the Bears get him up to speed on the playbook and would he be able to work himself into playing shape? I think it's worth bringing him in to kick the tires to find out, but I don't think they will.
Kellen Davis did hurt his back in the Texans game, so someone may have the opportunity to make a play or two this Monday night if Davis were limited. But if he's healthy, I'd expect the Bears to still give him the majority of the tight end snaps unless someone really steps up their play.
Then again, with Alshon Jeffery returning the Bears could go 3 wide outs and really open the offense up...