Bears training camp capsules: Tight ends


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.

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

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Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

Dion Sims is still here, which is the outcome he expected but perhaps wasn’t a slam dunk — at least to those outside the walls at Halas Hall. 

The Bears could’ve cut ties with Sims prior to March 16 and saved $5.666 million against the cap, quite a figure for a guy coming off a disappointing 2017 season (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown). But the Bears are sticking with Sims, even after splashing eight figures to land Trey Burton in free agency earlier this year. 

“In my mind, I thought I was coming back,” Sims said. “I signed to be here three years and that’s what I expect. But I understand how things go and my job is come out here and work hard every day and play with a chip on my shoulder to prove myself and just be a team guy.”

The Bears signed Sims to that three-year, $18 million contract 14 months ago viewing him as a rock-solid blocking tight end with some receiving upside. The receiving upside never materialized, and his blocking was uneven at times as the Bears’ offense slogged through a bleak 11-loss season. 

“The situation we were in, we weren’t — we could’ve done a better job of being successful,” Sims said. “Things didn’t go how we thought it would. We just had to pretty much try to figure out how to come together and build momentum into coming into this year. I just think there were a lot of things we could have done, but because of the circumstances we were limited a little bit. 

“… It was a lot of things going on. Guys hurt, situations — it was tough for us. We couldn’t figure it out, along with losing, that was a big part of it too.”

Sims will be given a fresh start in 2018, even as Adam Shaheen will be expected to compete to cut into Sims’ playing time at the “Y” tight end position this year. The other side of that thought: Shaheen won’t necessarily slide into being the Bears’ primary in-line tight end this year. 

Sims averaged 23 receptions, 222 yards and two touchdowns from 2014-2016; that might be a good starting point for his 2018 numbers, even if it would represent an improvement from 2017. More important, perhaps, is what Sims does as a run blocker — and that was the first thing Nagy mentioned when talking about how Sims fits into his offense. 

“The nice thing with Dion is that he’s a guy that’s proven to be a solid blocker,” Nagy said. “He can be in there and be your Y-tight end, but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He’s not going to be anybody that’s a downfield threat — I think he knows that, we all know that — but he’s a valuable piece of this puzzle.”

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

USA Today

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

The Chicago Bears logo has withstood the test of time. In a sports era full of uniform changes, the Bears have maintained the classic orange 'C' for most of their nearly 100 years in Chicago.

Unfortunately, tradition doesn't equate to popularity.

Chicago's logo ranked 28th in the NFL, according to a recent poll of nearly 1,500 football fans. Only the Redskins (29), Bengals (30), Jets (31) and Browns (32) were worse.

I’m not sure how I feel about the underbite on the “C.” I can see how this would be a polarizing feature of this logo. I wish to an extent that it met up more evenly. I think they could have had the bottom meet up in a more even fashion and still maintained the sharpness, of the “C,” which I like. I don’t mind the point [ON THE BACK SIDE OF THE “C”], without the point it would be super boring. The point actually does add something from a design standpoint that makes it stand out.

Bears fans will take exception with the results. Wins have been hard to come by in recent seasons, but there's still something special about seeing the familiar navy and orange on Sundays in the fall. The 'C' is arguably the biggest part of that. Sure, it's not a complex design overflowing with colors, but it represents a long and storied history. 

It's interesting that each of the bottom five teams have struggled to string together winning seasons. On the flipside, teams like the Saints, Falcons, Rams, Vikings and Eagles rank in the top six. Maybe it's recency bias.

In the NFC North, the Lions rank No. 2 (which is a shocker) and the Packers are No. 20.