Grading Da Bears: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends
“The Chicago Bears don’t have a true number one wide receiver, and it’s hurting them”.
It’s something we’ve heard for a long time as Bear fans. It’s also something fans have wished for a long time. The Bears have really never had a big play, physical number one wide receiver to compliment a offense that needs one. We’ve seen players like Marty Booker, Bernard Berrian, and Muhsin Muhammad try to be that guy, and they have all failed.
Booker was the last Bears wide receiver to have over 1,000 yards receiving. He had 1,189 yards receiving in 2002 and made then Pro B owl that season. Booker also had 1,071 yards in 2001. He was then traded in 2004 to Miami for Adewale Ogunleye.
The Bears still haven’t found a receiver to give opposing defenses fits. I mean it did take the organization a long time to find their franchise quarterback in Jay Cutler. Now, how long will it take to find a true number one receiver?
This season was no different for the Bears. The receivers struggled, and the “Devin Hester is a wide receiver” experiment failed again.
Johnny Knox led the Bears with 727 yards last season before suffering a brutal back injury which ended his season, and possibly all of his 2012 season as well. Knox is a receiver that frustrates a lot of Bears fans. He’s shown signs of being a pretty good receiver, but then there’s times where you ask yourself “What the heck is he doing”? His weakness is route running, and not fighting for the ball.
Then there was the whole Roy Williams experiment, which turned out to be a horrible move by Jerry Angelo. Where have I heard that one before? Williams was nothing but awful for the Bears. Williams had just 37 receptions and two touchdowns as he struggled with drops all year.
The Bear tight ends weren’t much better. Trading Greg Olsen was a huge mistake. Even a bigger one now that Mike Martz is gone. The Bears are left with Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth, who aren’t too bad but Greg Olsen has a way better skill set then both of them.
Davis didn’t have a bad year finishing with five touchdowns, but struggled in blocking and with offensive false starts.
Is there any hope for the future?
With a healthy Jay Cutler and Matt Forte coming back next season, is their any hope for the wide receivers? If there is, it’s going to be through the draft. The Bears have the 19th pick in the upcoming draft and would love to have Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd fall to them at that spot. Floyd is the ideal receiver for the Bears. A big and physical receiver with pretty good speed to give Jay Cutler a down field target.
If Floyd is gone, the Bears could look at Alshon Jeffrey from South Carolina. The problem is, Jeffrey has fallen out of the first round in several mock drafts. Scouts are saying he isn’t in his wide receiver shape that he was in college. He wouldn’t be a down field target, but more of a possession receiver. If the Bears decide to go offensive line with their first round pick, Jeffrey could be there in the second round.
The Bears could use the free agent market could provide the number one receiver the Bears need. Marques Colston, Dwayne Bowe, and Vincent Jackson highlight the wide receiver free agent class. Bowe is expected to be franchise tagged, so that leaves the Bears with the chance to go after Colston and Jackson.
One bright spot from the Bears receivers last season was Earl Bennett. And no, I’m not talking about his bright orange cleats either. Bennett only had 24 receptions, but did miss time with an injury. When he came back, him and Jay Cutler built off of their Vanderbilt chemistry. Bennett was Cutlers favorite target, and it showed in Bennetts big game in the win over the Eagles on Monday Night Football.
Wide Receivers- D+
Tight Ends- C