Chicago Sun-Times

Study confirms Olsen's sure hands

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We still don't know how Greg Olsen will fit into Mike Martz's new offense. But one thing Martz should know --- if he doesn't already --- is that the Bears tight end is a reliable pass catcher.

Pro Football Focus did an amazingly comprehensive study (which is what the site is known for, by the way) of receivers and tights ends to find out who dropped the most passes last season. Lead analyst Ben Stockwell attempted to limit the subjectivity by measuring a drop when a receiver had "his hands on a ball you would reasonably expect to be caught."

Using this criteria, Olsen only had two drops and 59 catches for a "drop percentage" of 3.28, which was fourth best in the league among tight ends behind the Panthers' Jeff King, Kevin Boss of the Giants and Owen Daniels of the Texans.

Ex-Bears receivers didn't fare so well, by the way. Mark Bradley dropped a fourth of the passes thrown his way last season and Bobby Wade wasn't far behind. Justin Gage was also among the most slippery fingered.

Check out the study for yourself at

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So much for the theory of him being an unreliable pass-catcher.

As much as I don't like science thrown around when it comes sports, I'm at least grateful that this will shine a light on these players that fans seem to think are great losses. I know it will not but one can dream that people will stop mentioning them. But I like how they mention a "reasonable" catch since that old adage was if you can touch it you can catch.

Olsen is an amazing pass receiver if Martz doesn't find a way to use Olsen in the offense then he is not the offensive genius that he is supposed to be. The bears need to find a way to get him matched up with lb or safetys & watch Olsen score. The Cutler to Olsen hook upshould be even more potent with a year under their belts. Look for Olsen to light it up.

TWO drops?? ..... I must have seen those "TWO drops" about 3 or 4 times!

I have also seen plenty of video that show Olsen cannot block worth a damn.

Ergo, he's not much of a TE. .... We ARE talking about TE here, and NOT WR. ..... Aren't we?

Dark who ever said Olsen couldn't catch? He can't run after the catch, he can't block, he doesn't battle and often gets pushed around by DB's who are 50 pounds lighter and he doesn't go up for balls. But he can catch.

The Bears utlra H-Back Grg Olsen. Some teams feel searching for an H-Back in the first 5 rounds is a big reach but not Chicago, 1st round or bust baby.

I see Kevin Walter had the 4th lowest drop percentage among recievers.

Its really nice to see that 3 former Bears made the list of highest drop percentage.

The more intresting article at PFF by the way was the 2009 all declined team. Staring three Bears of course, Jay Cutler you could probably figure out and then Harris of course, but Briggs also made the team. PFF pointed out how he struggled without Urlacher this year, I also think he was asked to do to much, but thats what great players do right. They step up when someone else goes down, they pick up the slack, or any other cliche you can think of.

Then you have the all NFC north team in which Backus and Cherilus beat legendary tackle Chris Williams as the best tackles in the north div. The only Bears to make the list, Tim Shaw and Gould on special teams. Even the Lions had 5 guys make the list including 3 O-Linemen. I don't think the Lions line is very good, but I think it points out how weak the lines in the North are. With Min, Chi, and GB all ranking in the top 10 in sacks allowed. The Bears O-Line was actually ranked better at run blocking than pass blocking, Min had a very good Pass blocking line but was ranked at the bottom in terms of run blocking, GB wasn't good at either type of blocking, and Det was mediocre at both making them the best line. Wow.

Peppers was beat out on the all NFC south team by Stylez White who recorded more tackles and only two fewer sacks in 130 fewer snaps. White also had more hits. Its not saying Peppers had a bad year, but his numbers where down and Whites had a really good year considering his snap count.

Interesting. I did not think he dropped passes, but I did think he failed to get open more often than he should have. The Bears did not take all that many advantages of Olsen against a linebacker because Olsen failed to get separation in spite of his superior speed. Maybe he needs better coaching on quick direction changes and better faking. I am certain Cutler can get the ball there fast enough if he can read a little separation, but any quarterback needs at least a slight opening.

go dahli!, why people would actually think we are morons (like the movie - mohrons) lol
A 1 for one of the best WR in the game? with a little sugar on top?? Why the F not? Head games? The man was mad AFTER Cutler was gone. And what position will the Bears draft with that 1st? That also leaves a good young WR for trade bait at the draft. We wont draft Oline at that spot. So we better hope we get Oline now as I dont feel we would draft a Guard or Center at No. 1 anyways. We have 3 new Tackles, so what position that we draft in the 1st would be addressed? Thats a high skill RB/WR/QB/OT/DE spot, not any of our needs. So actually that No. 1 would be used on a Safety? Nope we will address that this year. A OG? Nope not till the second, and we still will get one this year, no matter what. A LB? No, we have good LB. A DE? Nope we just dropped one lol, A DT? We better hope not, but maybe...We just drafted that position how many times? So really that Nop. 1 will be traded down anyway, as our needs are not skill positions especially if we grab Marshall. We will get our OG this year, mark that down and Safety at 2,3 or sign. Look at all the chatter about the Bears interest in those 2 positions lately, they will get those this year, and we can still address other needs next year.

What it failed to mention was how Olsen caught 56% of the passes thrown his way. Devin Hester had 64%. While Devin A and J Knox had 60%. Hester also had two game where he caught every pass thrown his way while Olsen did not do that. Olsen also had 5 games where he was under 40% and three where he was under 20%. Olsen also appeared in almost as many snaps Devin A and Hester combined. Hester had four dropped passes and Devin A 2. Knox had 4 in less opportunites. Olsen get better opportunities and really don't take advantage of them. Like I said: I don't like science to evaluate players that often, but it shows that Hester isn't as bad as people here like to keep saying he is.

Some people already hit the key points: Olsen is not as fast as his 40-time, he's not as strong as his size would have you think and he's a below average blocker. Heck, I would only drop two passes too if the comprehensive study is only sampling passes that are in a 1 foot radius from my chest.....I wouldn't be able to get any separation from defenders or break any tackles after making the catch but then again neither does Olsen. He could still get better I suppose but I'm skeptic. I'm sure he'd demand a decent amount of interest in a trade and I, for one, would be a happy man if the Bears surprised us an dealt him. In all honesty, Kellen Davis is much better all around.

I remember GB's C. Woodson covering G. Olsen last year. You would think when the other team sticks its best corner (and Defensive Player of Year) on your TE that would earn him some respect. Obviously not with Bears fans. Will he break a lot of tackles? Prob not, but I don’t remember seeing Tony Gonzalez breaking a ton of tackles. But like Tony, hes does have the size and speed to be a mismatch vs most LBs and Safetys and will does have good hands. More then once I've seen him grab a high pass over a defender for a TD. Does he have some things to work on to improve? Of course, everyone player can. Personally I think he should work on his lower body strength, footwork (cuts). Every yr hes improved his catches and TDs and hes only 25. Lets hope the Mad Mike can figure out how to use him and the other young WRs.
Interesting article, thanks Neil. Same site also has R. Sims SEA Guard as the 2nd best vs pass and 8th best overall.

"a ball you would reasonably expect to be caught."

Define "reasonable expectation" in catching a ball ! Two drops ? Please don't insult our intelligence with this rubbish.

And to WRD, Hester may catch well, he should do, but he also is Olsen-like in his blocking and therefore a liability ...

And did a comprehensive study that showed Olsen's song lyrics were only 3.5% unrhymed and cliched. Bullhockey. Why does the football world persist in telling us the Bears and their players are one thing, when clearly the truth is otherwise? Olsen can't block, can't shed blocks, can't obtain seperation, and when the ball is placed in a non-opportune location (read: a few steps ahead of his slow stride) can't make the play. So a website says he's great, okay. I can find a comprehensive study that says Lovie Smith's clock management skills are amazing. And where was the headline "Smith Becomes First Black Head Coach to Lose a Super Bowl"? The Onion. The press wants things one way: whom we like is great, despite the evidence.

That's stupid. Plain and simple. I hate geeks and nerds who sit there coming up with statistics and formulas to determine things that can be determined without them.

"Lead analyst Ben Stockwell attempted to limit the subjectivity by measuring a drop when a receiver had 'his hands on a ball you would reasonably expect to be caught.'"

That's a contradiction in and of itself. He wants to limit subjectivity, but he's still making an observation about what he THINKS is "reasonable."

Olsen's hands were never the problem. That's not the debate with him. He can't block, he can be taken out of the game by a smart defense, he loses the ball when he doesn't protect himself and gets walloped by a safety, he doesn't go up and win (or even fight for) jump balls, and he never picks up yards after contact.

So, in other words, if he can go run to a spot on the field (probably the end zone where he doesn't have to gain yards after contact), stop, and wait for the ball to come to him... then he's our All-Pro tight end.

the people who believe olsen is bad and cannot be an impact are sorely uninformed. check his stats against his peers at this point, after 3 years. using logic on this board, Dallas Clark would have been deemed no good since his numbers after three years dont match Olsen's, and he is in a superior offense with maybe the gresatest qb ever to play the game and still Olsen has better numbers across the board than did Dallas Clark at this point in their careers.....meaning posters here would have had to call for the trading of Clark as he wasnt any good... glad you scholars arent running the Colts.

Olsen will be as good as Martz plays drawn for him this year. He can be a ProBowler or he can fade away. Its all up to Martz. We have very good TE's, very Good RB's very good QB, good Tackles. Good young WR. All we need is the OG/OC and we are set.

Olsen's issue was never his hands, or pass catching ability. Olsen's issue is his lack of toughness and his inability or unwillingness to block.

I personally like Greg a lot and think he has a lot of upside. That being said however, time after time, when you compare him to Des Clark, it takes only one guy to bring down Olsen, sometimes guys who he VASTLY outweighs.

By playa34 on April 5, 2010 1:13 PM
"...glad you scholars arent running the Colts."

If I ran the Colts "playa," I sure as hell wouldn't do something as idiotic as laying down for another team when a perfect record was so easily attainable.

And your comparison of Dallas Clark to Olsen makes my head hurt. TEs aren't just judged on their pass catching abilities, they are also asked to block. Olsen cannot to do that part very well (something the stats don't show) and even though he does catch balls rarely can he do that in traffic; with his height he can't even out-jump 5'10" corners for the ball.

I mean, when he catches a ball it has to be when no one's around him and once he does catch it he's immediately taken down. He's just a slow WR. Put a DB on him instead of an LB and there's no more mismatch. I'll take Clark anyday btw.

Lets trade him for Detroits, 2nd round pick no less. He needs to work on his blocking....

Irish Sweetness: have you seen Hester bocking down field? He is no where in the category of Olsen in that capacity. He blocks really well on runs. He just gets hammered too much and therefore is hurt a lot. My thing with him is that people down him too much because they act like it's his fault that he is considered a number one WR. I have never heard him say that he was. The Bears by virtue of signing him to that rich contract did that. Honestly, I see no reason to keep mentioning "number one Receiver" because it's a made of phrase that people started using in the past 5 years. There was no number one WR ever mentioned by the Bears before then. You were the speed receiver. The possesion receiver. Or the guys who was a little of all the above. I hate to bring up 85 but there was no real number one receiver. The top 3 receiving stats were led by 3 different guys. Walter led with 49 catches. McKinnon had 7 TDs and Gault had 704 yards. That is comparable to Hester and Olsen's stats as leaders. We just need an overall better team of players and wins will improve.


I totally agree if Martz makes him an option in the passing game he could have a stellar year. It is up to Martz finding ways to get mismatches with Olsen.

Even more concerning to me is that considering what we are paying Manumaleuna, imagine what a threat in the passing game is going to ask for in terms of a new contract!

I think Olsen is a tweener when it comes to tight ends. he is not enough of a mismatch to beat corners and coverage safeties in his route running, and he isn't physical enough to use his superior size to work the middle of the field against LBs and safeties. I think he could do a lot if we keep him, but if moving him gets us a shot at Nate Allen in early round 2, or Jon Asamoah, then I am all for it. The early rumor was that New England wanted him to pair with Welker, Moss, and Brady, and that would be good news for us.

That would leave us in a lurch a bit with our TE position, since Davis and Manumaleuna are ok, and Dez Clark is skipping workouts now. We would need to get a young, well-rounded TE, like a John Carlson or Anthony Fasano type player to develop. But we can use the pick to get stronger up front or the back end of the defense, and still fill our other needs.

It didn't seem like a big deal then, but I think Manumaleuna's contract put us in a spot where we have to do something with Olsen this offseason. Either re-sign him, or move him to someone else.
Another brilliant move by Jerry. Force himself into a corner, like they did with Alex Brown...

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on April 4, 2010 9:26 AM.

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