AL HAMNIK: Ex-Bear Moorehead can't help be uptight about his old position

2013-08-24T17:00:00Z 2013-11-26T20:02:05Z AL HAMNIK: Ex-Bear Moorehead can't help be uptight about his old positionAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
August 24, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Tight ends need love, too.

That may sound like a bumper sticker, but it's the silent lament of anyone who plays that position for the Bears.

Your job is to block, sacrifice your body making others look good, and occasionally you'll be thrown a ball although stumbling Kellen Davis treated each pass like a live grenade and any route Evan Rodriguez took usually ended up with a breathalyzer.

This season, the Bears signed highly-regarded tight end Martellus Bennett who hadn't caught a pass until Friday night's third preseason game at Oakland.

Former Bear Emery Moorehead played that position from 1982 to 1988 and was a member of the Super Bowl XX championship team, yet he caught only 35 passes that season, second to Walter Payton.

In eight seasons with the Bears, Moorehead caught only 202 passes and scored 14 touchdowns. The most receptions he had was 42 in 1983, behind Matt Suhey and Payton.

The least number of catches was 14 in '88.

It was hard feeling the love while playing for coach Mike Ditka, perhaps the best known Bears tight end.

New coach Marc Trestman says he wants to spread the ball around this season like relish on a hot dog, but you get the feeling the tight end will remain an afterthought, like did you leave the garage door open?

"When you have the Cover 2 and when you play a 3-4 (defense), which a lot of teams still play, controlling the middle of the field is what you have to do," Moorehead said. "And the quickest way to get there is with your tight end running up the seam and across the field.

"Why teams don't utilize their tight ends that much, I just don't know. They're using three and four wide receivers for the same routes. And when you have a running game like the Bears have with Matt Forte, play action gets that tight end through there pretty quick."

Desmond Clark was a pretty good tight end, but execution in general had been a problem recently with Rodriguez, Davis and Matt Spaeth, all now history.

Moorehead was featured at last Thursday's annual "Battle of 119th Street Barbecue" for the Whiting and Clark football teams, the prep version of Bears-Packers.

The unique event, sponsored by the Whiting Lions Club, brings both high school rivals together to foster sportsmanship and mutual respect.

Ex-Bear greats Steve McMichael and Doug Buffone had appeared in recent years.

"Got to keep up that Bears tradition," Moorehead said.

During his time in Chicago, the pass-catch ratio stayed pretty much like it is today.

Running backs caught most of the passes, with threats like wide receivers Willie Gault, Dennis McKinnon and Brandon Marshall later becoming primary targets.

"They just don't seem to want to pass the ball to the tight end with any consistency," Moorehead said, shaking his head. "The tight end is under-utilized on the Bears but a lot of teams throughout the league use it with great success."

Motivation came easy with the Bears, however.

"Whoever didn't block wasn't going to start. That's how it was with Ditka," Moorehead said. "It didn't matter about the passing because you had to block first. We were a run-oriented team and led the league in rushing five years in a row."

The Bears ranked 28th in total offense a year ago.

There needs to be more relish on this dog. Hopefully, Trestman is true to his word.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

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