After losing the Super Bowl in 2006, the Bears selected Greg Olsen with the 31st overall pick in the NFL Draft. While some desire better stats and more blocking because of where he was drafted, his versatility should be the focus.
“The thing about Greg is, we don’t have a fullback,” Bears’ offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. “Greg’s numbers in the passing game are not what they could, and probably should be.”
Coming out of the University of Miami (FL), Olsen was known as a pass-catching tight end. That’s the reason he was drafted so high, not because of what he could do as a blocker.
It’s not disputed that his blocking needs some work at the NFL level. But the fact that he can line up almost anywhere on offense adds to Martz’s options.
“What we’ve done with him is, he lines up on the line of scrimmage, he’s at the point of attack,” Martz said. “But he’s also lined up at fullback, and he’s been a lead blacker. He’s lined up at wide receiver.”
In essence, Olsen represents three different players to a defense. When opposing defensive coaches are preparing for the Bears, they have to decide how they’re going to treat Olsen when he’s in the game. Are they going to treat him as a tight end? As a full back? As a receiver?
The answers to those questions determine what defensive personnel is substituted in, or out, of the game. If the defense decides to treat him as a tight end and he lines up as a receiver, than he can use his speed and athleticism to get open agaisnt a safety or linebacker.
In the same way, if the defense decides to treat him as a receiver when he’s in the game, and sub out a linebacker for an extra defensive back, the Bears will have a softer defensive front to run the ball against.
“He does so many things for us,” Martz said. “And just by being able to do that, flexibility puts a lot of pressure on the defense, though his numbers wouldn’t indicate that.”
Olsen’s value isn’t completely tied to what he does for the Bears’ offense, it also lies in what the defense thinks he’s capable of doing.