Bears coach Lovie Smith on Olsen: "He can be successful in this offense -- not can. Will. He will be successful in this offense. He’s a competitor. He’s going to find a way. His role has increased as far as us going to him every year. I don’t see that changing. ... H-back is probably what Greg has been best suited for up to this point. Right now, that’s been more Greg’s role. We haven’t talked a lot about him being an in-line tight end. That’s the next step we have to take with Greg."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on Branch: "I’ve seen him now on the field, throwing the ball around with a few players the couple days I was out (in Seattle). He’s gifted. He’s a natural player. He’s got terrific quickness. He’s got all the instincts. Terrific hands. With a good personality. ... The way he finished last year, the last 4 games of the year, he really looked good. He looked like a really good football player. It took him a little bit to get comfortable last year coming back from the stuff he dealt with. Once he got going, he looked like a very good player. Hopefully, we can utilize his talents and make sure he’s going to be a big factor for us."
Each coach seems ecstatic to have such potentially prolific players on their offense- and both of these players have oft been linked to being potentially prolific players on the New England Patriots offense. Just because these coaches are lauding these players' potentials does not mean they absolutely remaining on their respective teams. Coaches will tend to promote players who are going to be set up on the trade block. Why? To get maximum potential. Would you trade a 2nd round pick for a player who doesn't have a spot on his original team's offense? No. As a coach, they must laud their player's potential to show that they don't want to give up players for less. If Olsen and Branch are traded, expect them to be draft day trades- just like I expect Adalius Thomas to be.
How do these players fit on our team? More after the jump.
Olsen represents a big catching threat for our TE deprived offense, but, as Coach Smith says, he's not an in-line tight end. An in-line tight end is usually reserved for a player who can seal the edge of the line and who can protect the backfield from line backers. By saying Olsen isn't a good in-line blocker, that basically eliminates the Patriots from teams of interest. As seen by our picking up of Alge Crumpler, our TE position is mainly for blockers who can catch when asked- Olsen is a catch first player who won't fit in our offensive scheme. Sorry Olsen supporters, I doubt this trade will happen.
Branch is a player who will be a 3rd receiver on our team- at best. Moss will be #1 for another year, Welker is our #2 when he's healthy. Until then, Edelman and Tate are expected to step up and perform. Branch won't be stepping into a lead role on our offense- he's a #2 on the Seahawks. Coach Carroll will say how integral Branch is to the development of his new QB, as well as to the future of the team. Of course he will. He's not going to say Branch is an oft-injured receiver who is climbing over the hill. If teams think he can be a performer on the Seahawks, maybe his trade value will increase as he could be a performer on other teams.
I'm still a supporter of the Thomas for Branch trade and I think there's still a great chance it will happen. However, I expect that we may have to throw in an additional late round pick for the trade to happen.
Why? Because while Coach Carroll is playing PR for Branch, Belichick is doing nothing to help Thomas' image.