It's no secret that over the previous two seasons, the Chicago Bears did not utilize the tight end position. Mike Martz and his passing offense is well-known for using the tight end as more of a blocker, and their reception totals had dramatically fallen off over the last two years.
In 2009, before Martz, the tight end position pulled down 88 receptions for 832 yards and 13 TDs. In 2010, their totals fell to 48 receptions, 478 yards and seven TDs. Last season, they had only 25 receptions, 256 yards and seven TDs.
With Martz gone, the tight end position is back in play now. Here are some of the people who will benefit most from the new offense.
Kellen Davis took over as the No. 1 tight end for the Chicago Bears when former first-round pick Greg Olsen left for Carolina in 2010. He set career totals and accounted for over 70 percent of the tight end production last year with 18 receptions for 206 yards and five TDs.
Davis was a free agent and recently told ESPN that he would not have returned to Chicago if Martz was still here: (Link to ESPN article by Michael Wright)
Oh no, I wouldn’t have come back (if the offense remained the same as 2011). That’s without question. I couldn’t go through another season with like 20 catches. That’s not doable. This is home for me. I love my teammates, the team and the coaches. But still it comes down to me and my career and what I want to do with that. So (by the Bears) changing the OC (offensive coordinator), I thought I had a good opportunity here.
Davis probably won't light the world on fire this season, but he will probably lead all Chicago tight ends. He is too athletic and is too solid of a red-zone threat not to. Thirty receptions might even be possible.
Matt Spaeth has been primarily a blocking tight end for most of his career. In fact, in his five-year career, he has only had more than 10 receptions once. Last season, he had just seven receptions for 50 yards and two TDs.
Spaeth has struggled this preseason. He is probably on the bubble now and could be cut before the end of training camp.
The Bears drafted Rodriguez in the fourth round of this year's draft. He's very athletic and could function as a tight end, fullback or even H-back. He has a legitimate chance to make the 53-man roster and could become a solid offensive weapon in years to come.
Adams was an undrafted free agent for the Bears last season but did not contribute much to the team. He sustained a hamstring injury in November and was placed on IR. He has been doing well this preseason, and he is on the bubble to make the 53-man roster.
He'll compete with Matt Spaeth for a roster spot.