Wide receiver is position of want not need
Bears have enough pass-catching ability even if they could use some help
On the NFL
2:07 PM CST, February 19, 2011
Without understanding the difference between needs and wants, contentment is unattainable.
You need socks, health insurance and a toothbrush.
You want designer gym shoes, a smart phone and a leather couch.
I'm not sure a lot of Bears fans are getting this, because I keep hearing all this talk about needing a No. 1 wide receiver.
Look, offensive and defensive linemen are needs. A big-time wide receiver is a want.
If A.J. Green, Vincent Jackson or Sidney Rice were to drop down from heaven, of course they would make the Bears offense better. But the Bears don't need that kind of lead dog as much as they do a complementary receiver.
It would be nice to add a big, physical pass catcher to the mix, one who can make plays outside the numbers. It's one thing the Bears don't have.
But there is nothing wrong with the group on this team, and I would expect Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett and Devin Hester will remain its core.
I have heard so much bashing about the Bears receivers that I started to question my own judgment. So I went to a pro scout I respect from another team who has studied them extensively.
Here's his assessment:
"They are all different, and it's an above-average group. They are difficult to defend and probably second in the NFC North after the Packers.
"The Bears do a great job of using their strengths. Knox isn't the biggest or strongest, but he's tough and he has very good ball skills. He can go get it and run away from people. Bennett is a possession guy, move the chains. He finds windows and is tough. Hester isn't the most instinctive route runner, but he is a good package receiver who gets yards after the catch on things like screens and comebacks."
And I was starting to think only their mothers loved them.
Knox recently took a few shots from NFL Network analyst and new Hall of Fame inductee Marshall Faulk, who criticized him for not "crossing the face" of defenders on slants. Faulk said every time he saw Knox run a slant, he saw an interception. He implicitly questioned Knox's courage.
His evaluation is ungrounded. Sure, there were a few instances of that, but it hardly was a trend. Knox ran hundreds of slants in 2010, and he ran most of them very well. The majority of his yards came on plays over the middle.
If Knox was a wimp, how did he end up with the fifth best average per catch in the NFL at 18.8? He had more receptions of 25 yards or more than all but six players according to STATS. He was six yards short of the top 12 in the league in receiving yards per game.
And he did this in his first full season as a starter after not playing big-time college football. This is a really good young player who is going to improve.
Knox does need to catch a higher percentage of passes thrown to him than his 51 percent last season. But his performance is also a reflection of the routes he's asked to run, what defenses are doing and where and when the passes are being delivered.
Bennett doesn't have Knox' star quality, but he's a clutch player. Bennett is capable of increasing his snaps and taking a bigger role.
It may be time to cut back on Hester's offensive role, however. If he's to be the team's primary return man, it doesn't make a lot of sense for him to be running 50 routes and getting fewer than three offensive touches per game. I suspect he may have gotten a little leg-weary during the season as he seemed to have more juice early.
Hester does some things as a receiver exceptionally well. If he could be limited to maybe 25 to 30 snaps, the whole team might get more out of him.
Nevertheless, there should be opportunity for a newcomer. Canadian-league signee Andy Fantuz has set some hearts aflutter, but I'm taking a wait and see approach. He should be viewed as the equivalent of about a fifth-round pick.
Other wide receivers have made the CFL-to-NFL transition, most notably Joe Horn, Mervyn Fernandez and Stefan Logan. But Fantuz recently ran a 4.8 40-yard dash, and it's difficult to know if Fantuz will be able to separate from NFL corners. In the CFL, he was given the advantage of a running head start behind the line of scrimmage and a wider playing field.
If Fantuz can't do it, the Bears need someone else like him.
Anything more is a want.
I've never said Knox was a bust, but he definitely needs improvement at the details of his position. He needs to catch the ball at it's highest point. He needs to be a defender when necessary. And he does need to run the routes the way they should be run (in front of defenders on a slant as Faulk pointed out).
That doesn't mean that he doesn't do those things. He just needs to do them more consistently.
Winston Churchill: "Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak."
"If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain."
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Whatever other players or former players have to say about the Bears receiving core is only their opinion for print and not necessarily accurate since they don't have an in depth knowledge of the Bears offense. It's pretty easy to criticize when you're not in the huddle anymore and just paid to comment.
I like the article but I do think we need to spend some of that FA coin on a bigger wideout and I think Malcom Floyd would be a nice fit. Andy Fantuz is just what I said he is, a slow white guy with some size and what appears to be pretty good hands. Even if he does make the roster (big if there) I just don't see him as a difference maker so I think we need to look further and either sign an established vet (choice #1) or draft and sign a few rookie FA's who can compete for that spot. Maybe we'll get lucky and find a 6'5" 220lb version of Johnny Knox out there somewhere.
Aside from that I agree that the talent of offensive and defensive lines are what win you championships. Look no further than the 80's Bears to confirm that as far as our history goes. We had a ton of all-pros on both sides of the line back then.
The writer of this article is a complete homer. Our receivers are no where to be found when they go up against strong physical cornerbacks. I like Knox, but he can't help the fact that he's such a slim receiver. If he a had a slightly bigger build he would be fine but he doesn't so we do need a true #1 wideout IMO.
I think Bennett is THE GUY if we don't get anyone else. He's proven that he can make those tough 3rd down clutch plays, but i've kinda lost faith in Knox as being a guy that can develop into a number one. We def. need someone like a sidney rice to give cutler someone reliable to throw to besides Bennett. with those two and Hester and Knox fighting for the slot, I think that would be our best position (i'd prefer holmes, but i know he's goin' nowhere)
Read somewhere that they're asking him to increase his strength but I really don't see him bulking up much. Smaller guys like Knox could make it as number ones a few years back but with the size and strength of today's CB's he's at a decided disadvantage against some. I'd forego a true #1 for another teams #2 if the guy had size, speed and decent hands.
Originally Posted by Boochee Man
I agree. We simply need someone equal to or better than Bennett as our other starter, as Knox and Hester just don't have the muster to cut it. A BMF at WR would be nice, but is not as necessary as a DT, OL or CB in any regard.
Doesn't matter much if cutler has no protection. That makes all the difference in the world. He needs time to check down. A true "go up and get it" won't help without oline. Period!
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Yep and that makes the Oline the number one priority in both FA and the draft. JA and Co. need to decide just how much they can spend in FA and as soon as it can be done start making a pitch to the guys they want before draft day comes around. We can't afford to blow any more money on mistakes in either market.
Originally Posted by blinddeafmute
How come Aromashodu dissapeared? In 2009 he had 4 TD's. In 2010 he went 10 catches for 149 yards.