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.
Bears 17-for-25, 68.0 percent
Lions 13-for-19, 68.4 percent
Bears 8-for-19, 42.1 percent
Lions 8-for-11, 72.7 percent
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.
Broncos 20-for-28, 71.4 percent
Broncos 15-for-24, 62.5 percent
Broncos 2-for-3, 66.7 percent
Cutler should make the Bears better in short yardage. Will Gaines?