This review is a lot easier to write now with the Bennett acquistion in the rear view mirror and Kellen Davis now a Brown. I'm not sure if I can stomache describing the performance of the Bears tight ends in 2012 if I thought there was a possibility it could happen again.
To say the TE position was an unmitigated disaster last year is probably an affront to unmitigated disasters. The Hindenburg was at least an engineering marvel at one point. Kellen Davis and Co. were just shit from start to finish.
#87 Kellen Davis: 16 games, 15 games started, 19 receptions for 229 YDs, 2 TDs, 12.1 YPC, 14.3 YPG
Oh boy. I'm going to do this review in the compliment sandwich format.
Good thing about Kellen Davis: 12.1 YPC is a nice average for a tight end.
Bad things about Kellen Davis: Well, after bitching that he was misused as a blocking and red zone only tight end under Mike Martz, Kellen got a new contract and a nice opportunity to prove himself. He responded by dropping 30% of the passes thrown his way, fumbling to start the game agains thte Houston Texans, regressing as both a pass-blocker and a run-blocker, and ultimately finished as the 55th ranked TE in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. I can't tell you how bad that is, but according to the internet, there are only 32 teams in the NFL, so...Kellen failing to break the top fifty may be a bad thing.
The problem with Kellen is that he looks like a great tight end. He's 6'6", 260 and he runs a 4.5 40. He gets open downfield on the seam route. Everything about him screams "throw me the ball." Then, you know, he just doesn't catch it. Kellen Davis was more ineffective at catching the football than Devin Hester. His catch rate this year made Roy Fucking Williams look like Jerry Rice.
The most disappointing thing about Kellen was that last year was a golden opportunity for a tight end to make himself an indispensable part of the offense. After Marshall the wide receiver corps was a revolving door of injured or ineffective players. Tice was apparently determined not to use Forte as the receiving threat he'd been under Martz, so any tight end worth his salt could have had one hell of a year as Jay's #2 option. Instead, the Bears would have been equally well off just putting a cardboard cutout of a tight end on the field. It, too, would get open as the defense ignored it, and it would be just as useless as Kellen as the ball bounced in futility off of it's cardboard hands onto the ground.
Good thing about Kellen: he's fucking gone. Enjoy Cleveland, pal.
#89 Matt Spaeth: 16 games, 8 games started, 6 receptions for 28 YDs, 1 TD, 4.7 YPC, 1.8 YPG.
Matt Spaeth does one thing, and he does it well. When you pass to him, you end up with shit like that awful, awful drop against the Panthers. As a receiver he's so bad and slow that they kept Kellen Davis in the starting lineup for 15 games, for the sake of f*&k. He finished with a +10.6 rating as a blocker from Pro Football, and was their top-rated run-blocking TE. He was, however, overpaid for a blocking specialist (the last casualty of the Martz Era, you could say) and is approaching 30, so the Bears got cheaper and younger without sacrifice too much blocking by signing converted offensive tackle Steve Maneri from Kansas City to take his place.
So long, Matt. We'll always have...did you do anything we'll remember?
#86 Kyle Adams: 15 games, 2 games started, 4 receptions for 40 YDs, 0 TDs, 10 YPC, 2.7 YPG
The only tight end from last year who has survived the purge so far, Adams isn't much more than a warm body. He's slow (4.84 40 time), he was rather unimpressive blocking and catching, and seems rather superfluous given the addition of Bennett and Maneri and with Rodriguez presumably taking a bigger role as a lead blocker and a receiving option next year.
#48 Evan Rodriguez: 12 games, 5 games started, 4 receptions for 21 YDs, 0 TDs, 5.3 YPC, 1.8 YPG
Not technically a tight end, but it didn't seem fitting to give Evan Rodriguez his own article. Despite coming out of college with a reputation as a receiving-only tight end who is a liability as a blocker, Evan was one of the top-rated lead blockers in football last year but saw just eight targets all year. The West Coast Offense is one of the few that still utilizes a true fullback, particularly in the passing game, so you would expect Evan to play a bigger part next year, provided he stays healthy and avoids further entanglements with the law.
That's all for now. Next time: the annual review of the perpetually disappointing offensive line. I'll begin steeling myself immediately.