Bears

Bears training camp capsules: Tight ends

822055.png

Bears training camp capsules: Tight ends

History says Cutler will find TEs in his offense
Talk of truly involving tight ends in the Bears offense has been an annual rite since Mike Ditka. It nearly came to be in Ron Turners final year (2009) as offensive coordinator when Greg Olsen, the first Bears No. 1 pick used on a tight end since Ditka in 1961, led the Bears with 60 catches and eight touchdowns.
That all ended when Turner was fired and Mike Martz inspired the trade of Olsen to Carolina and the acquisition of Brandon Manumaleuna, effectively consigning the tight end to comparative insignificance.
Martz and Manumaleuna are gone. In their places are a Kellen Davis re-signed to a substantial contract (two years, 6 million, 2.7 million bonus), Matt Spaeth back beginning his second Chicago season and a fourth-round draft choice used for Evan Rodriguez, the highest pick of a tight end since Davis (fifth round) in 2008.
With the change in scheme from Martz to Mike Tice and de facto passing-game coordinator Jeremy Bates, who comes from the Mike Shanahan and Pete Carroll schools of West Coast thinking, the opportunities are expected to be there in 2012 for a return of the productive tight end to at least the consistent 40-catch levels of Desmond Clark through the past decade.
Probably significantly more.
Cutler in the West Coast approach of Turner completed 88 passes to tight ends in 2009. With Bates in Denver, throwing to Daniel Graham and Tony Scheffler, Cutler had 73 completions to tight ends in 2007 and 72 in 2008.
2011 in review
Davis led the Bears with five receiving touchdowns, continuing his career pattern of nearly one score every three catches. His 18 catches were spread over 12 games, although in no games did he and Spaeth combine for more than four receptions or 40 receiving yards.
It is a production level that the Bears appear committed again to adjusting sharply upward.
2012 Training Camp What to Watch
Depth chart
1. Kellen Davis2. Matt Spaeth3. Evan Rodriguez4. Kyle Adams
Mike Tice was an NFL tight end before going into coaching and his use of the position is expected to start becoming apparent in camp. And coach Lovie Smith is aware of what his offense has lacked.
I would say that all eight years I've been here that the tight end needs to be a big part of what we do, Smith said. We plan on doing that.
Smith also recognizes reality. The Bears didnt trade for Brandon Marshall and draft Alshon Jeffery in the second round to block.
As far as coming out this year, there are only so many receivers you can throw the ball to, Smith said. You can choose to make it your wide receiver. Or you can make it your running back or your tight end. But there are only so many guys, there are only so many passes to go around. You have to be smart with how you distribute those.

Thomas Jones tweets plan to fix Bears' struggling offense

Thomas Jones tweets plan to fix Bears' struggling offense

It didn't take Thomas Jones long to become a fan-favorite during his tenure with the Bears, which spanned three seasons from 2004-2006.  Jones, who was the seventh overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft, resurrected his career in Chicago with back-to-back seasons over 1,200 rushing yards in 2005 and 2006.

So, when he speaks about how to improve the offense through the running game, coach Matt Nagy and the rest of Chicago's offensive staff should at least give it a listen.

Technically, Jones tweeted his plan to repair the Bears' struggling offense. But, the point remains.

"Nagy should learn the history of the Bears," Jones tweeted. "When they've won in the past it's because they ran the ball 1st! The fans & the makeup of the Bears is blue-collar. Hard-nosed, physical fundamental football. Limit turnovers, chew up the clock & let the defense get you the ball back.

"And where is their fullback? How can you run the ball in Chicago without a fullback in the game? When u have a fullback in the game the linebackers know they have to strap up their helmets. It's going to be a physical game & some of them don't want that. Can't make it easy for them."

To be fair, fullback is a nearly extinct position in the NFL. But Jones' suggestion runs deeper than that; the Bears need to at least appear like they want to run the ball in order to make the defense respect the threat of a running game.

"They NEVER try to establish the run which puts all of the pressure on a young QB who is still learning & trying to figure out who he's going to be in this league," Jones said. "The O line won't get into any rhythm if they don't run block enough & the defense can only hold up for so long."

According to Jones, Mitch Trubisky isn't ready to be the centerpiece of Chicago's offense just yet.

"Mitch is too young to have all of that pressure on him at once. He's talented but he's not ready yet. You have talented backs & an incredible defense. The O Line just needs to gain confidence run blocking in real-time. They have to establish a running game or things won't change."

Jones drew on some experience from the 2005 season when the Bears kept things pretty basic for then-rookie quarterback Kyle Orton, who enjoyed some moderate success that year. He also chimed in on the Trubisky vs. Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson debate.

"Everyone matures at different times in the NFL. He's not those other guys so comparing him to them isn't going to help them win games right now. Establish a run game & take pressure off of him. Simplify the offense by giving him basic pass plays like we did with Orton in 05."

So how do the Bears get their offense back on a winning track? You guessed it: run the ball!

"It's not a old times sake thing. It's football. Every winning team establishes some sort of running game. Even if it's running back by committee or a running QB. The more tired a defense is from having to chase & tackle the more mental mistakes they're going to make.

"Which gives you a higher chance to win the game. When you run the ball you can take more chances throwing the ball downfield, running specialty plays such as screens and reverses. The defense can't just lay their ears back because they know they can get gashed at any time."

Head over to Jones' Twitter page to follow along with his complete Bears breakdown. It's pretty epic and is a great reminder of just how passionate he is about this team, this city, and winning.

Power Rankings Roundup: The free fall continues, and the NFC North is really good

Power Rankings Roundup: The free fall continues, and the NFC North is really good

The Bears' two-game losing streak is doing them no favors in The Web's power rankings, but even pessimistic reviews haven't totally sold them off yet (thanks defense!). What's a bit more daunting, however, is how quickly the other teams in the NFC North are rising. Some fun road games ahead huh?? Here's what they're saying: 

NFL.com –– #15
Trubisky is clearly pressing as the pressure mounts on his shoulders. He's taken a big step back in his third season ... how long can Matt Nagy stand by the former No. 2 overall pick?

ESPN.com –– #16
The Bears no longer resemble a playoff team -- not with Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback. Chicago's offense ranks 30th in total yards per game, 30th in yards per play, 28th in passing yards per game and 28th in rushing yards per game.

CBS Sports –– #16
Their offense is woeful at times and just won't allow them to win many games. The defense hasn't been as good the past two games either, which makes Sunday's game against the Chargers a must-win for both teams.

Sports Illustrated –– #17
Maybe Matt Nagy isn’t a cure-all. Maybe the defense is feeling the weight of carrying the offense and starting to crack (36 points to a backup QB with two weeks to prepare at home). Or maybe, just maybe, this team was never that good in the first place.

Bleacher Report –– #13
To say that the Bears are having issues offensively is an understatement. In Mitchell Trubisky's first game back from injury, he had fewer than 100 passing yards into the final quarter. Chicago had seven carries for 17 yards on the ground—for the game.

Chicago Tribune –– #18
Classes in Offense 202 need to be canceled. Nearly all the students are failing miserably. That’s reality when the Bears have yet to total 300 yards of offense in a single game. High-powered offenses will come close to that total in a good half.

Sporting News –– #19
When the Bears don't play good defense and can't run the ball, they're in trouble, because it puts games on the right arm of Mitchell Trubisky. They have a few schedule breaks coming up, but they need their third-year QB to play a lot better for that to matter.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.