As Panthers tight end Greg Olsen prepares to play in his first career Super Bowl, Bears fans commemorating the 30th anniversary of the franchise’s only Super Bowl win surely are lamenting the fact that Olsen was shipped out of town. They also may be confused regarding why their team gave up on a player who gradually has blossomed into one of the best tight ends in the NFL.
The answer is simple; Olsen didn’t fit the system of offensive coordinator Mike Martz, and Martz wasn’t willing to make his system fit Olsen.
“There’s no worse feeling then not being able to play up to your potential,” Olsen said after he was traded to Carolina in 2011, following one season with Martz. “Last year, I felt like that was the case.”
Coincidentally, the head coach of the Bears at the time was Lovie Smith, who like Martz has a reputation for putting scheme above personnel. The G.M. of the Bears at the time already has admitted that the Bears blew it with Olsen.
“It was a mistake to trade him,” Jerry Angelo said last year. “I understand he wasn’t the ideal fit in the scheme, but we let our best receiver go.”
It’s a lesson for every coach who is so obsessed with his system that he loses sight of what his players can do. Ultimately, the challenge of coaching is to figure out what your players do well, to figure out what they don’t do well, and to do the things that they do well and to not do the things they don’t do well.