Chicago Sun-Times

Bears mull addition of Gaines, need improvement in short yardage

| 27 Comments | No TrackBacks

gaines2.jpg

There is not much debating the fact that the New York Jets are in greater need of a tight end than the Bears.

But free agent Michael Gaines left the Jets' facility on Wednesday without a contract offer and could be heading to Halas Hall later today. Gaines traveled back to Detroit after his visit with the Jets, who essentially have Dustin Keller and not much else for rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez to work with.

If the Jets are slow playing things with Gaines, it could be to the benefit of the Bears. Gaines figures to be a guy who could quickly challenge Kellen Davis, the fifth-round pick last season from Michigan State, for a roster spot. Although he was active for 16 games last season, Davis was on the field for just 40 offensive snaps. In replacing Israel Idonije in some key spots on special teams, Davis' contributions were marginal. He made three total special teams tackles.

What the Bears would be seeking in Gaines is a better blocker. He's 6-4, 277 pounds, and while he has decent hands and moves well for a big man, he's known as an in-line blocker. Essentially, Gaines is an extra guard if he's on the field. Certainly the Bears can get a thorough scouting report on him from defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who was with Gaines in Detroit.

It's a move the Bears should consider because they need to get better in short-yardage situations. Here is a look at how the Bears did last season and how the Lions performed in the same situations. Yes, we know Gaines wasn't the reason for the success or failure of each play, but it's an interesting comparison when you consider the Bears had a strong young back in Matt Forte and the Lions were one of the worst outfits ever assembled.

Third-and-one


Bears 17-for-25, 68.0 percent
Lions 13-for-19, 68.4 percent

Third-and-two

Bears 8-for-19, 42.1 percent
Lions 8-for-11, 72.7 percent

Fourth-and-one

Bears 6-for-10, 60 percent (all 10 attempts were rushing)
Lions 3-for-5, 60 percent (2-for-3 when attempts were rushing)


What we can draw out of this is that the Bears need to get better in short yardage and goalline situations. Remember the failure at the goalline in Minnesota and the 99-yard Bernard Berrian touchdown precipitated? The Bears win that game if they punch the ball in the end zone there. They make the playoffs if they win that game.

The addition of Gaines would just be a small element to short-yardage situations. The biggest addition has already been made--quarterback Jay Cutler. He didn't bring his talented offensive line or receivers with him, but he's the trigger man that keeps a defense honest. The Broncos finished third in the league overall in third-down efficiency. The Bears were at the other end of the spectrum, 25th overall.


Third-and-one


Broncos 20-for-28, 71.4 percent

Third-and-two

Broncos 15-for-24, 62.5 percent

Fourth-and-one

Broncos 2-for-3, 66.7 percent


Cutler should make the Bears better in short yardage. Will Gaines?

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://blogs.suntimes.com/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/22481

27 Comments

Sign him up, the Bears need to protect Cutler and get those 1 and 2 yds they were missing last year.

Brad,

You are on a tear! Keep up the great work bud.

Very telling post. We have to anticipate improvement in short yardage situations this year. Bigger, better line and threatening QB. Would be nice to have a hammer for a blocking TE. I do like the size, speed, hands and youth of Kellen Davis. Might we consider trading Dez? He has been a clutch receiving TE, and probably the most well rounded option.

Extra guard on the field? Isn't that what Lance Louis is? Why not use an extra OL instead of an extra TE to really get the benefit of the heavy formation? I understand that TEs are better for play action, but John St. Clair caught a TD pass for us once, so Louis surely could catch the ball, and has the athleticism to sell a play fake and get into the end zone.

I like Gaines and all, but I would rather we taught Davis how to block. He already knows the offense, and has the frame and size to be a consistent blocker in-line. Time for Harry Hiestand to earn his money and coach these guys up. Olsen and Davis could both benefit from wokring with the OL to get better at blocking.

By Brad Biggs on May 7, 2009 12:59 PM
"So how does Louis get on the field? A third tight end has a much better chance of seeing the field than a ninth lineman."

Brad wouldn't Gaines be a 4th TE not a third? Or are they ready to cut Davis? While I believe the Bears need a blocking TE, perhaps if they had more confidence in the lines ability to get first downs in short yardage this would not be an issue. Most of the Bears short yardage plays were running which means the line is not getting a big enough push. It's the lines job to enforce it's wil on an apposing defense, not the TE. Where would you say the weakness lies in the lines ablity to generate that push last year? Also would you say with the addition of Pace, Omiyale and Williams as starters that this would have changed. I myself have a hard time believing that Williams amd Omiyale are great run blockers, and I believe it was you but I could be wrong that wrote about Pace no longer beig the run blocker he once was. I think the same can be said about Kreutz as well. I am not so sure this line is a big improvment for the run game, for the passing game yes, but not the run.

""So how does Louis get on the field? A third tight end has a much better chance of seeing the field than a ninth lineman.""


He doesn't Brad. Your 110% correct here. Louis will be nothing more then a practice squad player this year. If Gaines is added I would hope that the Bears could find a trade partner for Desmond Clark (perhaps the Jets or Cleveland ??). I know, I know, Clark has been a solid TE for us but the truth is that he is now 32 years old, will be a FA after 2010 and has seen better days....

I would like to see Kellen Davis get some opportunities on Offense. Olson and Davis would create some mismatches, especially in the red-zone and like others here posted, it's time for the coaches to teach these young players the fundamentals.

It would be a shame to lose a young prospect like Davis because we wanted to keep Desmond around a year or two more when in fact an addition like Gaines would be primarily as a fix to the woe-ful short yardage issues we suffered last season. The additions of more meat along the O-line could solve some of those short yardage concerns in and of itself. An upgraded O-line and the threat of Cutlers arm should help create better conversion rates on short yardage and 3'rd downs next season.

Go Bears !!

Biggs beat me to the punch to addressing the Lance Louis optimism.

I guess as an additional point, Gaines will be the third guy left or right of the center in any formation he'll be in. That makes him the 2nd or 3rd guy outside any of the 300 lb monsters the defense will throw against the Bears at 3rd or 4th and 1.

I'd rather have a guy like Gaines, 270 lbs and athletic, to run-block linebackers than I would an extra offensive linemen on the field.

Gaines is also a guy the Bears could feasibly put in on any down. Is it out of the question for the Bears to have Forte, three tight ends and a WR on the field in a 1st and 10 situation? Clark, Olsen and Forte would still provide enough of a short-yardage receiving threat that the Bears could get away with that formation without being one-dimensional. The Bears could even audible Olsen out as a WR, and they'd be back to their traditional two-TE, singleback formation. Perhaps this speculation is too Madden-eqsue and not very realistic

The Vkiings get Farve. The Bears counter by getting Gaines. Excellent move!

kellen davis is very athletic for someone his size but it do'nt hurt to give him competition in camp. but please find a fullback , I still remember how fullbacks used to drive the west coast offense in it's conception and do'nt agree they are obsolete

I agree with Joe Felicelli's comments above, and want to expand on the question. Why does it make sense to use a roster spot for a blocking tight who is used primarily in short yardage situations? If all you want is a big body who can block in those situations, why not use a backup offensive lineman who is already using a roster spot? Presumably they'd be as good or better in the blocking game as a blocking tight end. For that matter, The Bears could even use a defensive tackle or end at TE in short yardage situations. It just doesn't seem like a valuable use of a roster spot to carry a third tight end solely for blocking, unless the guy happens to be a stud on special teams or versitle enough to be your #2 full back also.

I also have a question on Davis. I thought there was talk last year before the season that he would be used as a third down pass rush specialist on defense. Is there still any discussion about that, or did I just imagine I heard that?

"By fan55 on May 7, 2009 2:33 PM
The Vkiings get Farve. The Bears counter by getting Gaines. Excellent move!"

this comment doesn't make any sense. The bears are in need of a replacement to Gilmore, who left in FA last year. Nothing to do with Favre. Whether Favre in fact turned down a contract offer from the vikings or will sign, is really up to Favre. And we all know that we won't know until he decides, Himself!

Thanks for the reply Brad, just for the record I agree about Louis, I was just curious about Davis who I thought was a wasted pick as he has never been a blocker. I also agree about the line being more WCO offense oriented to passing.

I think there was a reason Angelo liked Pettigrew so much and why he commented on the Lions Pick, he fits the Bears offense perfectly. You would never have to take him out. Actually he fits everyones offense perfectly. But for the Bears a guy like that is perfect because you save a roster spot that you don't have to use on a blocking TE, he blows people up on the line and he is a very good reciever with great hands. There are very few every down TE's in the NFL. There nice to have becuase you never know what they are going to do because they can do everything well. The Bears don't have that guy so they need 3 TE's.

As for Omiyale I am in a wait and see mode, I have never seen him play a game so I have no clue if he is good or bad. He is big though. Also I wasn't trying to insult Olin's line play, I was just saying he is not as good as he used to be, same with Pace. I wasn't trying to say either were bad players. I agree Olin is still the Best interior player they have on the line, but how much is that really sasying as you pointed about 3rd and short.

I agree with insane packer mauler, fullbacks were a important part of WCO Rathman stands out as the model Neal blocked for LT's best seasons and I don't think McKie is in that class, both are bruising blockers. And I believe it would be a boost to the running game.

WHAT YOU THINK IF THE BEARS DO GET GAIN DO YOU THINK THEY SHOULD TRADE DIZ AND NEXT YEAR SECOND ROUND PICK TO GET BOLDIN FROM ARIZONA. I THINK WE STILL NEED A GOOD VET WR. ALSO WE NEED TI ADRESS OUR SAFTEY SPOT. I THINK THE BEARS SHOULD BRING BACK MIKE BROWN HE IS THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE BEARS DEFENSE HE STILL THE BEST SAFETY IN THE MARKET, AND HE KNOW THE BEARS D VERY WELL.

if we get gaines we need to trade clark for a second or third round pick and develop davis.as big as he is if the coaches can't teach him how to block then they need to be replaced. clark, probably has his most trade value now. with the extra pick we could address another area of the team. we still are going to need o line, d line, secondary, and recievers for the next few years. don't let clark's contract run out cause then you may not get anything for him and we would be bidding against ourselves anyway. plus he's getting old and needs to go now if we get gaines.

RILOW stop living in the past, if Brown were still a competent player he would have been picked up by now. Second he is not a free safety which is the need, and what makes you think Arizona is dumb enough to trade a pro-bowl WR for a 32 yr old TE? Man wake up that isn't even reasonable. The reason Davis couldn't get on the field he couldn't block and had no clue on offense. Lastly it's real close to hang'em up time for Olin his decline is obvious between him and Garza that is the weak link they were constantly being tossed around like ragdolls last season that's why Forte's ypc was so mediocre. I good to be a fan I love the Bears too but I am also a realist you should try some.

Good analysis/analyses by Biggs. It's often said that just a few plays determine a game. Last year typified this adage. Who could forget that Berrian touchdown along with the Tampa game and Atlanta fiasco. No wonder coaches and GMs buy into the playmaker philosphy. I think Biggs found an interesting stat. If Gaines can improve on things is a different issue. What will be interesting and exciting for fans is to see the field open up for the offense. Eight/ nine guys in the box at least in the middle of the field against our offense will be rare.

The article on the Trib site about Gaines mentions that he played some fullback and moved around a lot with Carolina early in his career. So here's what I'm thinking....We lose McKie, who is solid but not a standout in any aspect of his game. We make Gaines the H-back, and we keep all 3 of our TEs. We could go essentially 4TEs on the goal line, which is an awfully nice package to put out there, and we can flex Olsen or Gaines out to spread the defense. Thinking in terms of a true jumbo package, imagine a short yardage situation where we have the following lineup on the field

Cutler
Forte
Gaines
Pace
Omiyale
Kreutz
Buenning
Williams
Clark
Davis
Olsen

That is a serious mass of humanity on the field at one time. We could also bring in extra OL instead of Clark, Davis, and Olsen and put all other jumbo packages to shame. Who else can put a 6'4" 275 lb. fullback on the field? Given the infrequency of the use of the fullback as outlined by Biggs earlier this week (or last week, I forget), we can drop them from the roster entirely, and have a more versatile, flexible, and big lineup on the field at any time.

Brad,
I understand the reasonability factor when it comes to late round draft picks making the roster, but when you bring a guy in to do exactly what your late round draft pick does, it seems a little silly to me. Granted, Gaines wasn't on the market when they made the pick, but if you don't think the guy is better than what you have, why not take a player from a position where you do need improvement?

When we drafted Louis, Rashad Jennings was still on the board, a big back we could use to be a physical presence late in games. We could have taken Ogletree or Kinder earlier. Or we could have taken some players who were not drafted to give them a shot in camp. He looks like he might spend a year on the practice squad at best, which is where Tyler Reed went, and 3 years later, still hasn't made any kind of impact. Brandon Rideau, same thing. Once they hit the practice squad, they are pretty well out of the loop, and aren't going anywhere. It goes back to the player development issues, where we do not seem to develop the bottom 1/3 of our roster to be anything more than the bottom 1/3 of our roster. Other than being practice bodies, what have our practice squad guys brought us? Reed, Rideau, Ervin Baldwin, Fontel Mines, Cody Balogh...all of them are likely to be released or stay on the practice squad for the maximum time allowed, and then just disappear.

How differnet would our draft have looked if we took Chris Clemons instead of Knox, and then Ogletree instead of Louis? According to Gil Brandt, he sees Ogletree as a lock to make the Cowboys roster as an undrafted free agent. We would still have the 3 WRs, and gotten Kinder, Ogletree, and Iglesias, all capable of lining up outside, where Knox is a slot guy, like Hester and Davis already. We would also have a prospect at free safety that can run and cover, which we do not have right now.

Of course hindsight is 20/20, but knowing what your roster looks like and where you need improvement is key to drafting well. If Louis doesn't make it, or ends up on the practice squad, then it was a non-value pick. Why not swing and miss on a guy you need, rather than not even come up to bat where a guy is already on the bad end of a numbers game?

Ahhh Joe, you stole my thought. I've never really been a fan of McKie, and would much rather see the Bears go with 4 TE's this next season. I'd like to see the Bears give Davis another year to try to develop before they cut him loose. This blog has already reported how much less playing time the FB got last season.

Its obvious to me that the run game last year was sorely missing John Gilmore (who I remember lined up as the FB when McKie was injured) After reading Lovie's comments and seeing Gaines come back from New York without an offer, I'd say that Gaines will be a Bear next week.

Sorry Brad, but the entire premise of this article is flawed. When an offense is awful in short yardage and goal line situations, it doesn’t mean that the exterior of the O-line (where the 3rd TE would line up) is bad. What it means is that the Guards and Center are horrible. Period.

Yes, this means Olin Kreutz is horrible. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, anyone who actually watches Olin on running plays will be appalled and wonder how bad someone has to play to be cut from the Chicago Bears. He actually makes Danielle Manning look like a sensible choice at Free Safety. While watching Beekman, Garza and Kreutz struggle against the run last season, Olin was the most consistently awful game after game.

Olin seems to be a great leader and is like another coach on the field. He has a great sense of humor and is absolutely hilarious in interviews. He had a heck of a run in the NFL, was the Bears best player on Offense for nearly a decade and also seems like someone you’d want to have your back in a dark alley (or an FBI shooting range). But people need to wake up, both inside and outside Halas Hall when it comes to Kreutz and stop living in the past. His body just can’t do anymore, what his mind knows it should be. Sorry Olin, but enough’s enough.

Lets not give up on Louis yet. Yes the odds are that Louis might not make the team and with Gaines as a possible addition it appears even more remote for Louis to make it.

Stranger things have happened, Louis is somewhat of a freak of nature as a 300 pounder with speed below 3.8 in the 40 and was a tight end, must have some upside with hands etc.

We really do not know about this kid yet, who knows he may surprise, I hope he does.

Excellent article! You seem to be making it a habit lately. It's nice to read something unbiased on the Bears. Too many articles I've seen elsewhere look like relied on ESPN.


I hope the Bears find a way to keep Kellen Davis. I think he could be special if the light goes on for him. I have to agree with the comment that we need a major upgrade at FB. I remember Matt Suhey, Calvin Thomas, and Brad Muster, all of whom contributed far more than our current guys. I know that times change, but how many times did we run the FB off tackle for 1 yard gains in the last two years? Hopefully, both Louis and Gaines will be considered at FB.

Kreutz has always gotten by with gile and toughness by he always had a above avg set of guards in his best days now he's on the decline and with weak guards now he looks very vulernable Garza is weak and Beekman is a future center. That was painfully obvious and I think even the Bears noticed it thats way the rush to move Omiyale to guard in a attempt to get bigger and stronger inside. maybe time to give Beekman a closer look at center.

Excellent article.

Leave a comment

Twitter updates

Categories

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on May 7, 2009 11:41 AM.

Draft driven Bears actually built the roster every which way was the previous entry in this blog.

Bears confident Forte will improve with reduced workload is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.