As we continue to look back on our preseason NFC North themes, let's examine how one of our most vigorous discussions turned out.
The Bears denied initial concerns that tight end Greg Olsen would be minimized in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's scheme, which had traditionally used tight ends more as an extra lineman than a receiver. As we noted many times, no tight end had caught more than 38 passes or scored more than six touchdowns in a season under Martz. Similar numbers in 2010 would have qualified as poor use of resources, and I suggested that Martz would find a way to get Olsen more involved than that.
In the end, Olsen exceeded that high mark by three receptions. On the other hand, Olsen's 41 catches were his lowest total since his rookie season. He scored five touchdowns, one off the high in a Martz offense and tied for the second-most in his career. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Olsen was targeted for 67 passes, tied for the 16th-most among NFL tight ends.
Keep in mind that Martz pulled back significantly on the passing game at midseason, and Bears quarterbacks combined for a total of 466 attempts. For context, consider that in his final full season with Martz in St. Louis, Kurt Warner threw 546 passes. Marc Bulger threw 532 passes in 15 games in 2003, and Jon Kitna threw 596 and 561, respectively, while with the Detroit Lions in 2006 and 2007.
In the end, Olsen wasn't as productive as he had been in previous seasons. But given the system foisted on him, and the midseason adjustments made beyond that, I would consider a 41-catch season a success. You?