So why did the Bears ever get rid of Greg Olsen?

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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.

101 responses to “So why did the Bears ever get rid of Greg Olsen?

  1. Hence why Lovie was let go in Tampa this year….the NFL has changed…coaches need to scheme to the talents of their players not vice versa. Lovie also had an uncanny inability to adjust his DEF at half time…..

    I was not shocked by Lovie being fired…at all.

  2. Martz isnt very good at adjusting. Just like he refused to adjust to 14 point underdogs in the 01 Super Bowl.

  3. Theres very few coaches who will build their scheme around a TE.

    Olsen was good in Chicago (60 catches the season before Martz, 41 catches with Martz) but Martellus Bennett did a great job when he arrived a few seasons later.

    With the salary cap you just cant keep them all, some players need to be elsewhere to really shine and Olsen arrived in Carolina just as Newton was stepping it up

  4. Living in Illinois, all my friends are Bears fans, and I’ve always asked them why the hell would you get rid of Olsen. Their response: “Mike Martz was an idiot.” This year I get to ask them: “Why the hell did you let Forte and Jeffrey go?”

  5. And this is why Martz, and Lovie and Angelo are out.

    Then you say, we need a change and bring in Emery, who hires Trestman over Arians.

    Then you get rid of them.

    At least the new GM and Fox seem like they have a chance to turn it around. But a lot of time has been lost, a lot of picks and pickups wasted.

  6. Im still trying to figure out why the Bears traded Marshall for a 5th round pick. The Guy was 5th in recieving yards, 4th in receptions and 1st in TDs this year.

  7. You’ll never hear ole Chip Kelly say what Angelo said. “It was a mistake to trade him.” Get ready 49ers, Bowman, Hyde will be traded or cut soon…

  8. It’s because of Mike Martz.

    He didn’t want to make Olsen a “move guy” and, therefore, Jerry Angelo traded him for a sack of marbles.

    Besides, a 41-catch, 9.9 YPC player that also lined up in the backfield won’t garner a third round pick.

    Olsen should be the symbol of Angelo and Martz’s exclusion from the NFL.

  9. The Bears were in the middle of implementing a new, “loser” system … and Olsen clearly didn’t fit in.

  10. The last sentence in the above post nails it perfectly. Too many coaches are so arrogant that they can’t or won’t adjust to what they have. Instead, they try to hammer square pegs into round holes and wind up looking like fools.

  11. How many head coaching jobs has the arrogance of “my scheme” killed? Among the latest is Whisenhunt for sure.

  12. Any offensive system that can’t find a way to get Greg Olson the ball is a terrible system. Mike Martz is an ego maniac with no clue. He was handed a Super Bowl team and pi##ed it down his leg.

  13. The Bears have made a science out of shipping out talented players and replacing them with mediocrity. That’s one of the reasons they’ve been shut out of post season play for how many years now??? Don’t believe me…ask Cedric Benson, Devin Hester, Thomas Jones, Greg Olsen, Julius Peppers and Jared Allen! Next on the bubble is Matte Forte…figure that one out. They’ve also shipped out talented coaching material – Tell me Urlacher and Rivera couldn’t have helped them! The Chicago Bears just don’t get it, they’re totally inept and they will never restore the Bears to the glory days while the McCaskeys are running the show. . . just my opinion.

  14. Here’s the thing, and this is from a long-time Bears fan. Greg Olsen was not all that during his time with the Bears. He was extremely soft, went down with any contact at all and couldn’t block worth a damn. Maybe that was immaturity, maybe it was bad coaching (with the Bears, a definite possibility) but in the end I actually wasn’t that upset when we let him go because for a 1st-round pick he was underperforming pretty badly. And then when we leveraged the pick we got from him into Brandon Marshall I figured everything had worked out for the best. Obviously a lot has changed since then but to me anyway, getting rid of him wasn’t the crime against humanity that some have made it out to be.

  15. That mentality runs through all levels of coaching. I see it in kid sports all the time. Coaches do not first consider the players and their skills.

  16. I live in IL, but am a Vikings fan for life. I have seen significant progress with Fox as HC. He has pretty much cleaned house and with a bunch of no-names on defense has turned them into a respectable group. If they start loading up on talent I have no doubt this will be a 3 team race again next year. Not sure about Detroit, they have talent, but for some reason can’t seem to not trip over themselves. Would love to see all 4 teams competing for the division this year.

    No doubt they will all be looking up at MN though.

  17. It’;s called salary cap hell. When you pay your crappy QB 20 mil per with a moron GM, things like this happen.

    VERY simple.

    75% of the league is run by moron owners who want money immediately.

    It’s why Spygate and Deflategate exist. They just want to see their piece of the pie and don’t want to understand it takes 3-5 years to build a legit SB contender that can have some variation of staying power in the cap era.

    It’s fascinating to watch these dumb owners make the same mistakes over and over.

  18. Greg Olsen was a poor blocker in Chicago.
    Martz said…the #1 thing a TE has to do is block.
    Maybe he got better in blocking at Carolina.
    But Martellus Bennett is a great blocker and he’s an equal with Olsen on receiving.
    He just needs to keep his mouth shut

  19. Trading away Olsen might have been a mistake, but it wasn’t a colossal blunder like it is being painted. The pick that they received was used in a trade with Miami to ring in Brandon Marshall, who had some very successful seasons with the Bears. Giving up Olsen, who wasn’t being utilized, for Marshall and the following year’s third rounder (which became John Jenkins for the Saints) to have someone productive in the current system isn’t really all that insane.

    Hindsight shows us that Olsen has continued to play at a high level and remains with the Panthers while the Bears have gone in another direction at wide out, but moving a player at the end of his contract to get parts for a roster with needs happens all the time.

  20. The same arrogance is part of why coaches and coordinators insist on calling all the plays and don’t let QB’s develop that part of their game.

  21. Great coaches mold their scheme around talent, Mike Martz was hell bent on plugging whatever he had into his glorious system.

    Inflexible minds traded off Greg Olsen, Martz was lucky he had players that fit his scheme in St. Louis. He showed himself a very average coach at all his later destinations.

  22. I love when people point out that Mike Martz drove Greg Olsen out of Chicago for no other reason than his own stupidity.

    This is the same Mike Martz (3 career playoff wins) that some people out there still can’t believe lost a Super Bowl to Bill Belichick (23 career post season wins).

  23. The one draft pick Angelo made that was worth a damned, the dumb ass trades him away. Go figure. Where is Jerry now?… My guess he is not working in the NFL… Mike Martz, where is he now?

  24. How does this article fail to mention the compensation the Bears received for Olsen? The traded him for a 3rd round pick which they then flipped for Brandon Mashall. Really not not as bad as this article tries to make it sound.

  25. psj3809 says:
    Jan 28, 2016 10:32 AM
    Theres very few coaches who will build their scheme around a TE.

    —–

    Patriots with Gronk

    Saints with Graham (back in the day)

    If you have one good enough, it’s definitely worthwhile drawing up plays for them…

  26. Don’t let ANYONE fool you. CUTLER wanted to get Bennett in there. That’s why Olsen is no longer a BEAR. Cutler not only gets rid of coaches like they were nothing, it’s players, as well. And to the Viking fan living in Illinois, I too, am stuck in this crappy state for awhile longer. I do NOT see the BEARS doing ANYTHING while whiney boy is their QB. Get rid of him, and maybe things will change.

  27. Not a pats fan but putting personnel above scheme is what has made Belichik so good. Every week a new game plan based on what your players do well as opposed to the weakness of the other team

  28. this is just one of the many reasons Cutler did not live up to expectations when he was traded to the bears yet everyone wants to blame him. it drove me nuts to watch them throw to him once a game watch him catch and gain 20 yards then never throw to him again. the main reason lovie was let go was he he is clueless when it comes to offense and the once great defense he had got old and had injuries. there is no way you make the Cutler deal then do not run a offense that fit his skills that made him one of the best young qb’s in the game when he was in Denver. it’s like they looked at the film and said that’s nice but we do not do that here.

  29. The philadelphia eagles feel your pain

    #mathis
    #LeSean.

    #wtfwasLuriDoingLettingThatHappen
    #ImeanComeOnMan

  30. If Olsen came back to the Bears he wouldn’t be any better than the last time he was here. Look at the Green Bay receivers that leave Aaron Rodgers. It’s funny how they don’t put up the same numbers. The real reason is that Carolina doesn’t have any real WRs. They have a couple of guys that can run fast and get open deep, but they don’t have many options throwing short and intermediate. Olsen is just in the right place at the right time. Give Cam Newton a little credit too. Cam didn’t play in Chicago.

  31. There is a pattern here (see: Chip Kelly). I was praying the Cowboys went after him pairing him with Witten. True talent from the U and a class act. I hope he wins the Superbowl.

  32. How anybody handed the personnel keys to Angelo is a head scratcher. Watch any interview with Angelo and you won’t be impressed.
    Like a lot of coordinators, Martz rode Vermiel’s coat tails. The Rams were loaded on offense with hall of fame skill players and stud offensive linemen. The Rams succeeded in spite of Martz and not because of Martz. I remember watching Cutler get his brains beat continually with long step drops and Martz NEVER made any adjustments to protect him.

  33. Lovie deserved to be axed by the Bears. He stubbornly refused to bring in a bonified Off Coordinator and rested on the pipedream that the defense & Devin Hester would score enough points every week. His ego got the best of him and it’s still biting him in the rear end.

  34. Greg Olsen was always good with the Bears, his talent wasn’t any type of mystery to the NFC North. That is, unless you were Bears management.

    The Bears are just continuing their recent modus operandi of making bad moves.

    Getting rid of Greg Olsen. Getting rid of Brandon Marshall. Trading away 2 firsts, a 3rd, and Kyle Orton for Jay Cutler. Getting rid of Cedric Benson. Getting rid of Lovie Smith.

    It’s like they put everyone’s name into a hat to and whatever random name they select is gone.

  35. spartyistheclassofthenationinfootballandbasketball says: Jan 28, 2016 10:28 AM

    Better question: Why did they fire Lovie after he went 10-6?
    ===============

    Easy answer: Because that team started out 7-1 against a cupcake schedule (11-5 Colts, 7-8-1 Rams, 8-8 Cowboys, 2-14 Jaguars, 4-12 Lions, 7-9 Panthers, 6-10 Titans) and finished 3-5 against a tougher schedule (L vs 12-4 Texans, 11-4-1 49ers, 11-5 Seahawks, 10-6 Vikings, 11-5 Packers). W vs 10-6 MIN, ARI, 4-12 DET ; L vs 11-5 GB

    Record against losing teams: 8-1
    Record against winning teams: 2-5

    And that was the story for Lovie his entire career in Chicago. Never could put together an offense to complement his defense and never could beat winning teams. He also was terrible at making in-game adjustments.

    And when you make the playoffs only 1 time in 5 seasons post-2007 Super Bowl, you’re going to be fired.

  36. Olsen also grew up a lot once he was traded. I think his daughter being very sick played a big part in that. We saw glimpses of his current play in Chicago, but he never played to his capabilities until he reached Carolina. Good for him and the Panthers.

  37. Scheme over talent is probably the trait most hated by team fans. My Dolphins have been floundering at this for years on both sides of the ball. Throw in some personality conflicts and some decent players inevitably walk. Olsen was decent in Chicago but he was taking a while to be a true factor and Martz doesn’t use tight ends all that well. I have wanted the Dolphins to draft 3 tight ends over the last several years (Kelce, Eiffert and Olsen– I missed with Gronk and did not like Hernandez at all) but they would rather take projects in the later rounds and then not develop them. Olsen was definitely one Chicago let get away.

  38. revelation123 commented:

    The Bears are just continuing their recent modus operandi of making bad moves.

    Getting rid of Greg Olsen. Getting rid of Brandon Marshall. Trading away 2 firsts, a 3rd, and Kyle Orton for Jay Cutler. Getting rid of Cedric Benson. Getting rid of Lovie Smith.
    ==========

    Trading Olsen is really the only bad move on that list.

    Marshall was a cancer in the locker room and needed to go. Had Kevin Smith been healthy this season, Marshall’s production would not have been missed. But his poor attitude and locker room disruptions were definitely not missed.

    The Cutler trade was a good trade. The problem was that Lovie Smith and any OC he brought in were incompetent at building a competent offense around him. Johnny Knox as #1 WR cutting off his routes and not fighting for the football. Experimenting with Devin freaking Hester as a #1 WR. Mike Martz getting him killed with his ridiculous complicated routes and 7-step drops with no O-line protection. Other OCs had no idea how to use Cutler’s skills of throwing outside the pocket. It was absolutely ridiculous how badly the Bears setup Cutler to fail.

    Cedric Benson was another cancer in the locker room and a slacker with no work ethic. Didn’t work hard, didn’t keep himself in shape, huge disappointment in Chicago, especially after taking the reins from a great character and hard worker in Thomas Jones.

    And I already commented on Lovie Smith. 1 playoff in 5 seasons after the Super Bowl. Couldn’t put an offense together, couldn’t beat winning teams, couldn’t make in game-adjustments. He was a good DC, bad HC. He needed to go. The Bears mistake, in hindsight, was passing on Bruce Arians as the next HC.

  39. Why did Miami let go of Ted Ginn. Sometimes guys don’t fit a scheme and are traded. It benefits the player and if the team is lucky, their move will benefit them too. In this case for Chicago and Miami, the move benefitted Carolina. You can’t second guess yourself or you’ll go nuts.

  40. If Foxx happens to be out of Chicago after next season, it won’t be b/c he was fired, it’ll be b/c he realized that he could no longer take the nonsense that this organization has become famous for.

  41. How did that Marshall trade work out for the Bears? SB?? Division Title?? Playoff Game?? Not one of them, huh? mmmm.. guess that didn’t work out as good as you think, huh?

  42. Panther fan here. I remember first hearing that we got Greg Olsen from Chicago. My first thought was….why did they get rid of him. My second thought was….this is gonna be great for our Panthers!
    And he remains one of the best (if not the best) pick up we ever made!!!! So glad he’s part of this Panther team!!!!!
    KEEP POUNDING!!!!!

  43. Look at the coaches in the league now, and historically, who are considered great coaches.

    All of them are/were able to adapt their plans and use the strengths of the players they had.

    Look at the merely-good coaches who always seem to fall short. They’re very often “scheme” guys who can’t adapt or learn or change, and if their players don’t fit, they fail, even if they have good players.

  44. The Bears.

    Hahahahaaha. That’s it. That’s the joke.

    I’ve never seen a more delusional fan base. They walk around with their chests puffed out every year and actually believe they are relevant.

  45. 1. Trade Olson for a 3rd round pick
    2.Use that and an additional 3rd rounder for Brandon Marshall, who you trade for a 6th rounder. 3. Hire Trestman over Arians, which leads to Rod Marinelli leaving. 4. Draft 1 productive 1st rounder in past 5 years. = 2 consecutive last place NFC north finishes .

  46. “It’s a lesson for every coach who is so obsessed with his system that he loses sight of what his players can do.”

    And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why Chip Kelly, Rex Ryan and Lovie Smith will never hold the Lombardi.

    KEEP POUNDING!

  47. I really question whether Lovie Smith owes the last 8 or 9 years of his coaching career to Ron Rivera for getting his defense to a Super Bowl. Bears D was never the same since Lovie fired Rivera, who was the playcaller for the Bears defense in 05 and 06. It’s a damn shame too.

  48. Because they are da bears. They are lucky if even half their decisions have a positive impact on the team

  49. They also had a TE I want to say Kellen Davis or something like that… who was really produc5ive…. and while some people think coaches solhould adjust their scheme to the players I don’t think that is right. I 5hink you give a GM and coach 3 year minimum as they often go into a place together let GM draft foe the scheme the coaching Staff is strongest in , and build from there. That’s what teams like GB has done even when th3ybsqi5ched to the 3 4 TT immediately addressed it in the draft by getting a big NT in Raji and an outside rusher sure hebhad Kampman out of position vut they have continued to build upon what the coaches know best. That’s why they tend to be very deep at WR even if it does take time for them to get there it’s because they fit the scheme.

  50. It depends. For every Greg Olsen that got away, there’s a Cordarrelle Patterson that has freakish athleticism and still doesn’t fit.

  51. Too lazy to research this and don’t pay enough attention to the Bears to know fist hand, but I assume Olson was drafted by the Bears before Martz was hired or his offensive system was in place, or it made no damn sense to draft a guy with his skill set in the first place.

  52. I’d like to correct/comment on some posts, non-Greg Olsen.

    Marshall -talented, yes. But a head case. The Bears dealt with him as best they could and while he piled up yards, he also was a clubhouse cancer, threatened team mates and when the Fox/Pace regime came in, he was seen as a “me guy” and not what they wanted around. So, yes, they dealt him away.

    Benson – seriously? Check your history. Another guy with problems who turned off coaches and teammates with his attitude. And yes, he went to Cincy and had one good year and then………

    It’s shooting fish in a barrel saying “the Bears suck…” but at least deal with facts. You take ANY team and they all have drafted busts, cut/traded guys for various (and strange) reasons and have had their fan bases scratching heads.

  53. So if they would’ve kept him they’d be a sorry team with a great TE. Bears living off of 1985 and the ghost of Halas. Their pains run deeper than one tight end.

  54. There are coaches on both ends of the spectrum. Don Shula identified great players, got them, and then schemed to their strengths. He had great rushing teams and he had great passing teams, and teams that did both. On the opposite end, Mike McCarthy – as usual for him – still has not even identified who his best players are … and some of them have been on the team for multiple years.

  55. I can’t believe there are people complaining about getting rid of Benson. Do you remember when that turd actually played for the Bears? Getting rid of Thomas Jones in favor of him is the real problem. Either way, they went out and got Forte who they’d be smart to re-sign.

  56. The Devin Hester experience was an epic failure. And to think Atlanta continued with it was even worse. He worked hard at it but he didn’t get the nuances of route running. He was a 1 trick pony.
    For the Bears, it hurt the passing game and the return game.

  57. jjfootball says:
    Jan 28, 2016 5:40 PM

    CAM NEWTON WOULD BE AVERAGE WITHOUT GREG OLSEN!!!!!!!!!!!!
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Take off the all caps. Greg Olsen wouldn’t be a Pro-Bowl player without Cam Newton. Don’t be afraid to give credit where it’s due. It won’t hurt!

  58. I think this a problem throughout the NFL. They should be hiring coaches that fit their personnel and not bringing in new system changes with every coach.

  59. As many have stated, he wasn’t a good blocker. Normally you’d accept that and adapt to it so you take more advantage of his strength, pass catching. However, those who watched the Bears back in 2010 remember the historically poor protection of Cutler. I believe that was the season the Giants sacked him like 10 times in a game… he was getting pummeled weekly due to an incompetent OL. Do names like Chris Williams, Jemarcus Webb, Frank Omiyale bring back any memories? So basically it was Mike Tice (the OL coach) trying to protect with an extra blocker to keep Cutler in piece. And this was because Angelo did not provide Martz with a respectable OL. Again look at those names… they were starting for the Bears.

  60. tommytd says:
    Jan 28, 2016 10:49 AM

    The Bears have made a science out of shipping out talented players and replacing them with mediocrity. That’s one of the reasons they’ve been shut out of post season play for how many years now??? Don’t believe me…ask Cedric Benson, Devin Hester, Thomas Jones, Greg Olsen, Julius Peppers and Jared Allen! Next on the bubble is Matte Forte…figure that one out. They’ve also shipped out talented coaching material – Tell me Urlacher and Rivera couldn’t have helped them! The Chicago Bears just don’t get it, they’re totally inept and they will never restore the Bears to the glory days while the McCaskeys are running the show. . . just my opinion.
    ——————————————————–

    Totally agree on Rivera, but what makes you think Urlacher would make a good coach? Guy was never able to get off a block, and got by on his physical talent for most of his career. The simplistic system Lovie ran for most of Urlacher’s career made him appear smarter than he was. But how many times did the Bears defense shut down playoff teams? Or beat premier QBs? Not very often.

    Rivera has proven he is a very good HC, but I don’t think there is any evidence to show Urlacher would be even a good LB coach. If he was, someone would have reached out to him. There are enough guys in the league coaching that know him well that he would have an opportunity by now.

  61. billmiller1991 says:
    Feb 1, 2016 3:14 PM

    As many have stated, he wasn’t a good blocker. Normally you’d accept that and adapt to it so you take more advantage of his strength, pass catching. However, those who watched the Bears back in 2010 remember the historically poor protection of Cutler. I believe that was the season the Giants sacked him like 10 times in a game… he was getting pummeled weekly due to an incompetent OL. Do names like Chris Williams, Jemarcus Webb, Frank Omiyale bring back any memories? So basically it was Mike Tice (the OL coach) trying to protect with an extra blocker to keep Cutler in piece. And this was because Angelo did not provide Martz with a respectable OL. Again look at those names… they were starting for the Bears.
    ———————————————————
    Giants got him 9 times in the first half, and I believe he left with a concussion before the 10th sack on his backup.

    The Bears OL wasn’t all that good when they went to the SB, and was way worse when Cutler got there, and hasn’t been solid since. If they play Long at LT in 2016, the left side will be rock solid with Slauson and Long on the left. They can run to that side all day long. If they keep Long on the right side, they need 2 more OL to be decent (LT, RG). I think they can get a RT and RG in free agency or the draft, but locking down one side of the OL is worth moving Kyle to the left.

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