Versatility is the buzzword of the Phil Emery era as speed and undersized scheme players were the buzzwords of the Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo regime. Whether or not that thought actually holds past this season remains to be seen, but the team's emphasis on versatility could be both a blessing and a curse.
One of those versatile players is Evan Rodriguez, who by the end of the season had settled in at fullback, or the "H-back" role of the tight end shifting to the fullback position. Tight ends coach Andy Bischoff has already hinted that the team will change the way they use their tight ends, and Emery stated the Bears will use Rodriguez out of a variety of roles.
"He's going to be used in a variety of roles until we find the right role for him," Emery said. "He finished the year as a fullback. We felt by the end of the year that he did a good job in there."
"We need a tight end that can threaten the defense. We need a tight end that can create stress in the middle of the field or wherever we place him because we're going to line him up next to the tackle," Bischoff said. "We're going to line him up outside the numbers. We're going to line up in the backfield, and we're going to expect the defense to figure it out. So we need a receiver who can catch the ball, and we need a receiver who can block enough to be lined up in the backfield if we put him there.
Even with extra Rodriguez snaps, that doesn't mean tight end won't be an offseason priority. Kellen Davis did not have a good year, and Kyle Adams, the prior regime's pet tight end project, never really had opportunities to show his talents, which means there will be players added to provide competition. Maybe the Bears add a Tyler Eifert, Zach Ertz, or Travis Kelce, or any of the other young tight ends in the draft, or maybe they make a play for a veteran tight end like a Brandon Myers.
What's your outlook for the tight end position? Did Rodriguez show enough last season to warrant more snaps? Do you feel comfortable with Rodriguez as a receiving option?