Muhsin Muhammad perfected the art of walking a fine line when it came to criticizing his quarterback like a good receiver knows how to get his feet down along the sideline during his three seasons with th Bears.
Signed to be a big-play receiver in 2005, that never really materialized here and he let his frustration with Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman and Brian Griese be known from time to time.
Muhammad, who was released on Monday with three years remaining on his contract, produced 164 receptions for 2,183 yards and 12 touchdowns while enduing six changes in starting quarterbacks. That’s hardly the turnover the team has seen in other recent seasons. For his efforts, he was paid $16.27 million.
He suggested in an interview Tuesday on WMVP AM-1000 that there will be multiple options for him in free agency. He also walked the line in criticizing offensive coordinator Ron Turner.
``I still have a lot of football left in me,’’ he told the station. ``Everything feels good.’’
Here are some excerpts from portions of the interview on 1000:
MUHAMMAD: I think the production comes with trust with the quarterback obviously and then opportunities. If given the opportunities, I think my numbers would have been a lot better. If you look at the percentage of balls that were thrown to me, the percentage of balls I caught and the percentage of balls I dropped, my numbers as far as that was concerned were not any different than they were in Carolina. The only difference was is that Carolina threw me a lot more balls.
1000: Do the Bears have a professional quarterback?
MUHAMMAD: Well, obviously you know we went through three different quarterbacks this year and we did not have a 1,000-yard receiver. I think Bernard Berrian has the potential to be a really good wide receiver in this league but I don’t think he was able to really showcase all that he can do in the system that we ran and obviously trading out quarterbacks every single week the way we did. Is he going to be a great receiver one day? He has the possibility of doing that. I think he needs the opportunities. To follow up with that, you only had one receiver with a 100-yard game. Is it solely on the receivers or the quarterback or the system? Whatever the case is, Chicago is not really known to put out really, really top receivers. It was a challenge for me and I don’t think it worked out he way we all expected but we did get some great times, we had a Super Bowl out of the deal, we had a couple of NFC North championships so I have nothing to complain about. When I take my next step, I don’t know where that is going to be right now, but it feels good to be free.
1000: IS THE SYSTEM FLAWED?
MUHAMMAD: I know that either I didn’t fit into the system or the system isn’t right for the type of receiver I am. Maybe that was one of the reasons Ron felt like he didn’t want to utilize me as much as he did or I didn’t get the ball as much as I thought I should have got the ball. For whatever reason. Ron had been successful at other times. He’s been successful here in Chicago, he’s been successful at Illinois, obviously it wasn’t the exact fit for me and I think that parting ways was the best decision for them and me. They decided to go with some younger guys. They wanted to give Devin [Hester] a chance, they want to give Mark [Bradley] more reps, they’re probably trying to sign Bernard back. I’m fine with that.
1000: WAS THERE A DISCONNECT BETWEEN YOU AND TURNER?
MUHAMMAD: I don’t think that there was any hard feelings at all between Ron and I. Obviously, if I am only getting thrown the ball two or three times during the game it is going to be hard to produce with that. Obviously, if I am only getting the ball thrown to me two or three times during the game I am not really featured in that type of offense. Let’s just take it for what it is.
1000: HOW GOOD CAN DEVIN BE?
MUHAMMAD: Devin obviously has big-play ability. I think being a special teams guy is really his forte. If you start to play him more at wide receiver, I think you take away from what he does best. But I still think he can still be a very, very great wide receiver. He’s shown he has big play capabilities.