A plan for the 2012 Bears offense was for dramatically more impact from the tight end position after that group was relegated to insignificance by Mike Martz, best reflected in the trading away of Greg Olsen.
(Not that anyone is keeping score but Olsen has 43 catches for the Carolina Panthers, more than double the combined total (18) of all Bears tight ends.)
The organization voted with its checkbook on Kellen Davis; 2.7 million signing bonus in a two-year package totaling 6 million. Davis is due a 2014 base salary of 2.4 million and at this point it is problematic whether the Bears consider a tight end with only 11 catches and significant drops through the teams first nine games.
He has seen a substantial negative rating by analysts for ProFootballFocus.com in five of the Bears nine games, allowing two sacks on Jay Cutler in addition to drawing four penalties.
Davis is the 55th-ranked tight end, according to PFF, with five drops, a key lost fumble on the Bears first play in the Houston game, and 55th in percent of catches from passes thrown (42.3).
But that seems like everything, said coordinator Mike Tice, refusing to lay an over-sized share of the blame for the offensive problems on Davis or any one player or area.
It seems like its me, its the players, it seems like were trying to get this thing going and were trying to play with some consistency. We havent achieved that so its frustrating all the way around.
But the Bears have edged away from the vertical schememindset of Martz and toward a West Coast controlled approach with Tice and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who worked in that system with Denver and Seattle.
The latter system utilizes the tight end for considerably more than just blocking.
The Bears invested their fourth-round draft choice this year in Evan Rodriguez, a pass-catching tight end from Temple. Rodriguez was the first of the Bears rookie class to win a starting job, opening the season at fullback, however.
He missed four games with a knee injury and now is expected to integrate more receiving and route-running into his job description.
Its not too difficult because I was in the tight-ends room earlier this year, Rodriguez said. I have a good feel for whats going on.
Kyle Adams was targeted for his third catch of the season last game with Jason Campbell, more inclined than Cutler to use tight ends in check downs.