Moon: Who said Martz doesn't use the tight end?

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Moon: Who said Martz doesn't use the tight end?

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011
10:33 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Who knew?

The position that Mike Martz never had a lot of time for in the past is suddenly perhaps nothing short of a bellwether for Bears fortunes.

The Bears are 7-0 this season when a tight end catches a touchdown pass. Six of the wins came in the regular season, including the first Green Bay game. The seventh was in the divisional win over Seattle when Kellen Davis and Greg Olsen caught scoring throws of 39 and 58 yards, respectively.

No tight end in a Mike Martz offense ever caught more passes in a single season than Ernie Conwells 38 for the 2001 St. Louis Rams. No tight end in a Martz offense ever caught more than Conwells four that season.

In one Chicago season, Martzs tight ends, the position that the incoming coordinator was expected to relegate to insignificance, have done away with those highs.

Not bad for a position that was addressed in the offseason but with a player (Brandon Manumaleuna) more akin to a guard than a receiver, a hint about what Martz had planned for the position. If Davis, Olsen and even seldom-used Desmond Clark had doubts, they have more than played through them.

There really wasnt much history of Martz and tight ends really to rely on, Olsen said. But I was confident that if I just continued to do what I do, that there would be a place for me and there has been a role and a pretty prominent one.

Coach Martz has said all along that the guys who make plays and do what theyre asked to do are going to play and thats the mentality, the approach weve all taken.
Quality over quantity
It has not been all good all year for tight ends vs. the recent past.

The four tight ends combined for 53 catches and nine touchdowns this season. Olsen alone had 60 catches and 8 touchdowns last season. The group yardage total was 633; Olsen netted 612 last season.

Indeed, the position was not as integral a part of the offense as it was under Ron Turner. West Coast systems traditionally make far more extensive use of tight ends than Martzs more vertical system. Green Bay has hurt the Bears under two regimes with the likes of Mark Chmura, Bubba Franks and last year Jermicheal Finley.

But Olsens 39-yard touchdown catch was the turning point of the Dallas game. Davis one catch of the regular season was for a touchdown in the first Minnesota game and put the Vikings down by two scores in the crucial closing minutes.

Davis has 12 career catches. Five of them have ended up in the end zone.

A little skill and a lot of luck, Davis said, laughing. When If Jay Cutler is on point, whoevers open is going to get the ball.

The Bears kept four tight ends on the 53-man roster for the first time in recent memory and had all four active for five games, including the first Green Bay game.

Vernon Davis, who has caught 20 touchdown passes for the 49ers in the two seasons since Martz left San Francisco, caught just 31 passes and scored two touchdowns under Martz. Conwell scored once every 9.5 times he caught a pass in his best Martz season.

Bears tight ends produced a touchdown once every 5.9 receptions this season.
Martz, you crazy old tight end, you
Martz isnt anti-tight-end, certainly after the group under position coach Mike DeBord has acquitted itself so decisively in game situations. He may in fact relate particularly to Manumaleuna.

I used to play tight end, Martz said of his college time at Cal-Santa Barbara. I probably was more like a guard, but I did, I played tight end. I love that position.

The Bears elected to keep the four tight ends and leave fullbacks out of their 2010 roster plans. While Manumaleuna is a blocker first, the roster decision forced Olsen to become more of a blocker or lose playing time.

Even though Olsens career took a dip after seasons of 39-54-60 catches his first year, the result of 2010 has been the development of what is now arguably one of the NFCs better all-around tight ends.

Weve asked all our tight ends to take turns at that position of fullback so that takes away from the down-the-field type of thing wed like Greg to do at times, too, Martz said. But hes done so many great things for us that allow us to do those things.

Unselfishly, hes been willing to do that so we can run the ball so much better. He leads in there. Hes at the point of attack as a tight end. We put him out there as a wide receiver.

Olsen was a receiver who has made himself a serviceable blocker. Davis was a blocker who can function as a receiver in a pass-first scheme.

Davis was a little indecisive, Martz said. He wasnt quite sure what we were doing but where he has been the last three weeks or so has been very encouraging and allows us to include him more.

And not all the learning has been on the players side of the meeting room.

I think Martz realized that we can add some production to the offense, Davis said, and hes worked us in there.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information

Players drafted by NFL head coach who led team at Senior Bowl

Players drafted by NFL head coach who led team at Senior Bowl

The Bears coaching staff will get a close look at some of the draft's top prospects when they head to Mobile to coach the 2017 Reese's Senior Bowl on Jan. 28.

John Fox and his staff will spend a week in Mobile getting to evaluate and work one-on-one with players from the North team, leading up to All-Star game.

If you're a Bears fan, you'll want to take a close look at the North roster because if past history is any indication, at least one of those prospects will likely be a member of the Bears in 2017.

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CSN stats guru Chris Kamka compiled a list of players drafted by the NFL head coach who led their team at the Senior Bowl (2000-16).

Check out the full list below:

2000 - Carolina Panthers (George Seifert)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (23rd) Rashard Anderson DB Jackson St.
3rd (82nd) Leander Jordan T Indiana (PA)
6th (182nd) Jeno James G Auburn
7th (221st) Lester Towns LB Washington

2000 - Kansas City Chiefs (Gunther Cunningham)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (21st) Sylvester Morris WR Jackson St.
2nd (54th) William Bartee DB Oklahoma
6th (188th) Darnell Alford G Boston College

2001 - Pittsburgh Steelers (Bill Cowher)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2nd (39th) Kendrell Bell LB Georgia

2001 - Green Bay Packers (Mike Sherman)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
3rd (71st) Bhawoh Jue DB Penn St.
3rd (72nd) Torrance Marshall LB Oklahoma

2002 - Arizona Cardinals (Dave McGinnis)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
3rd (81st) Josh McCown QB Sam Houston St.
4th (113th) Nate Dwyer DT Kansas 
5th (149th) Jason McAddley WR Alabama

2002 - Seattle Seahawks (Mike Holmgren)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
5th (171st) Matt Hill T Boise St.

2003 - Detroit Lions (Marty Mornhinweg)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
4th (99th) Artose Pinner RB Kentucky
5th (137th) Terrence Holt DB North Carolina St.
7th (216th) Ben Johnson T Wisconsin

2003 - Houston Texans (Dom Capers)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2nd (41st) Bennie Joppru TE Michigan
3rd (75th) Seth Wand T NW Missouri St.
3rd (88th) Dave Ragone QB Louisville
4th (101st) Domanick Williams RB LSU

2004 - Cincinnati Bengals (Marvin Lewis)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2nd (49th) Keiwan Ratliff DB Florida
2nd (56th) Madieu Williams DB Maryland
6th (183rd) Greg Brooks DB Southern Mississippi

2004 - San Diego Chargers (Marty Schottenheimer)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
3rd (65th) Nate Kaeding K Iowa
3rd (66th) Nick Hardwick C Purdue
4th (98th) Shaun Phillips DE Purdue
5th (133rd) Dave Ball DE UCLA
5th (154th) Michael Turner RB Northern Illinois
7th (209th) Shane Olivea T Ohio St.

2005 - Oakland Raiders (Norv Turner)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
3rd (78th) Kirk Morrison LB San Diego St.
6th (175th) Anttaj Hawthorne DT Wisconsin

2005 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Jon Gruden)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (5th) Cadillac Williams RB Auburn
2nd (36th) Barrett Ruud LB Nebraska
3rd (71st) Alex Smith TE Stanford
4th (107th) Dan Buenning G Wisconsin
6th (178th) Anthony Bryant DT Alabama

2006 - San Francisco 49ers (Mike Nolan)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (22nd) Manny Lawson DE North Carolina St.
4th (100th) Michael Robinson WR Penn St.
5th (140th) Parys Haralson DE Tennessee
6th (192nd) Marcus Hudson DB North Carolina St.

2006 - Tennessee Titans (Jeff Fisher)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
5th (169th) Jesse Mahelona DT Tennessee

2007 - San Francisco 49ers (Mike Nolan)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (11th) Patrick Willis LB Mississippi
1st (28th) Joe Staley T Central Michigan
3rd (76th) Jason Hill WR Washington St.
3rd (97th) Ray McDonald DE Florida
4th (104th) Jay Moore DE Nebraska
6th (186th) Thomas Clayton RB Kansas St.

2007 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Jon Gruden)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2nd (35th) Aaron Sears G Tennessee
4th (106th) Tanard Jackson DB Syracuse
7th (246th) Kenneth Darby RB Alabama

2008 - San Francisco 49ers (Mike Nolan)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (29th) Kentwan Balmer DT North Carolina
4th (107th) Cody Wallace C Texas A&M

2008 - Oakland Raiders (Lane Kiffin)

No players selected.

2009 - Cincinnati Bengals (Marvin Lewis)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2nd (38th) Rey Maualuga LB USC
4th (106th) Jonathan Luigs C Arkansas
5th (142nd) Kevin Huber P Cincinnati
6th (179th) Morgan Trent DB Michigan

2009 - Jacksonville Jaguars (Jack Del Rio)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
4th (107th) Mike Thomas WR Arizona
7th (250th) Rashad Jennings RB Liberty

2010 - Miami Dolphins (Tony Sparano)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (28th) Jared Odrick DE Penn St.
2nd (40th) Koa Misi LB Utah
3rd (73rd) John Jerry T Mississippi
4th (119th) A.J. Edds LB Iowa

2010 - Detroit Lions (Jim Schwartz)

No players selected.

2011 - Buffalo Bills (Chan Gailey)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
3rd (68th) Kelvin Sheppard LB LSU
4th (100th) Da'Norris Searcy DB North Carolina
6th (169th) Chris White LB Mississippi St.

2011 - Cincinnati Bengals (Marvin Lewis)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2nd (35th) Andy Dalton QB TCU
4th (101st) Clint Boling G Georgia

2012 - Minnesota Vikings (Leslie Frazier)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (29th) Harrison Smith DB Notre Dame
7th (210th) Audie Cole LB North Carolina St.

2012 - Washington Redskins (Mike Shanahan)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
4th (102nd) Kirk Cousins QB Michigan St.
4th (119th) Keenan Robinson LB Texas
6th (173rd) Alfred Morris RB Florida Atlantic

2013 - Detroit Lions (Jim Schwartz)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (5th) Ezekiel Ansah DE BYU
3rd (65th) Larry Warford G Kentucky
7th (211st) Michael Williams TE Alabama

2013 - Oakland Raiders (Dennis Allen)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
3rd (66th) Sio Moore LB Connecticut
4th (112th) Tyler Wilson QB Arkansas
6th (172nd) Nick Kasa TE Colorado
6th (184th) Mychal Rivera TE Tennessee

2014 - Atlanta Falcons (Mike Smith)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2nd (37th) Ra'Shede Hageman DT Minnesota
3rd (68th) Dezmen Southward DB Wisconsin

2014 - Jacksonville Jaguars (Gus Bradley)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
3rd (93rd) Brandon Linder OL Miami (FL)
4th (114th) Aaron Colvin DB Oklahoma
5th (144th) Telvin Smith LB Florida St.
5th (159th) Chris Smith DE Arkansas

2015 - Jacksonville Jaguars (Gus Bradley)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
7th (229th) Ben Koyack TE Notre Dame

2015 - Tennessee Titans (Ken Whisenhunt)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
4th (108th) Jalston Fowler FB Alabama
5th (138th) David Cobb RB Minnesota

2016 - Jacksonville Jaguars (Gus Bradley)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
4th (103rd) Sheldon Day DT Notre Dame
6th (201st) Brandon Allen QB Arkansas

2016 - Dallas Cowboys (Jason Garrett)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
4th (101st) Charles Tapper DE Oklahoma
4th (135th) Dak Prescott QB Mississippi St.

Pro Football Focus gives Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman historical 2016 grade

Pro Football Focus gives Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman historical 2016 grade

Bears GM Ryan Pace struck gold with his signing of Jerrell Freeman last offseason.

Freeman, who signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Bears last March, was graded as the NFL's No. 1 inside linebacker in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus.

Freeman's 93.8 overall grade was PFF's third-highest defensive grade behind Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald (95.6) and Oakland Raiders standout edge rusher Khalil Mack (93.9). 

Here's what PFF's Mike Renner had to say about Freeman's historic 2016 season:

One of the most impressive pure statistics any player amassed this season came from Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman. He made 40 tackles in coverage while missing only one tackle attempt. That ratio is insane, and it’s the best we’ve recorded since 2012. That’s about the only exciting stat, though, as the Bears’ front-seven desperately missed a fully-healthy Pernell McPhee for a good portion of the year.

Despite Freeman's outstanding season, he was left off of PFF's All-Pro Team for 2016. Although he was ranked ahead of Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (91.6) and Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (92.9), PFF likely omitted Freeman due to him missing four games with a PED suspension.

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In his first season with the Bears, the 30-year-old Freeman led the team with 110 tackles (the next highest total was Harold Jones-Quartey's 78). Freeman also finished with a team-high 7 tackles for a loss. 

Check out a snapshot below of Freeman's PFF metrics from last season:

If there's any doubt about Freeman's play falling off after serving a suspension, he put that theory to rest. Freeman's second-best game grade came in Week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings (3.5). Freeman also had a positive grade (1.4) in his first game coming off the suspension against the Washington Redskins in Week 16.

"People know me," Freeman told the media after returning from suspension. "People know who I am. People know what I'm about. I wouldn't do that on purpose. I made a mistake and that's what it is. It's not like I was going out of my way to do something (illegal). But it happened. It's my fault and I take responsibility for it."