Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, June 8: Mailbox full of receiver inquiries

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It's wide receiver fever today. Catch it! Let's get right to the mailbag.

Q: Huge Bears fan from New Zealand. Probably the only one in New Zealand so your columns are much appreciated. My question is of course about the wide receiver position. I think the Bears will do fine with what they have but why not improve? What about Matt Jones? The Bears don't have great height at the position and it is known that the coaches love speed. Matt Jones is a monster and ran a 4.37 at his combine in 2005 (even though he might not play as quick in pads). Getting named the beast at the combine shows he has talent. No problem with his hands and he had 65 receptions last year while missing four games. He has experience and is a No. 1 receiver. He would give Devin Hester and the other young receivers time to develop. Also he is 26 and has to be the best option apart from Anquan Boldin. However, I know the Bears probably say they equally value a clean record which is maybe why they haven't touched him. But he has been cleared of any game suspensions and only a fine by the NFL. Will this lead to more interest? I think improving is more important than getting someone with some bad history. A 26-year-old, 6-6 receiver with experience. Why not?

Michael S., New Zealand

A: While Jones has recently been in Arkansas working through a court-mandated program, he's spent much of the offseason working out at the IMG facility in Florida. Jones is said to be in terrific shape and the hope is that he will have multiple offers to choose between. Obviously, the Bears would be a team he'd probably be interested in joining when you consider the depth chart, Jay Cutler and, well, the depth chart. But the later it gets, the less chance there is the Bears get involved with Jones, who learned recently that the NFL will not be imposing any more sanctions against him. You make a good point that he might not play as fast as he timed several years ago. While he was very productive last season in Jacksonville, which has a run-oriented attack, Jones was a possession receiver. We pointed out the work done recently by our friend Eric Edholm over at Pro Football Weekly. He noted that of Jones' 166 career receptions, three have gone for more than 39 yards. However, few consider Jones to be a true No. 1 receiver. While we think Jones would provide an upgrade instantly for the Bears, the Bears believe rookie Juaquin Iglesias can be a productive possession receiver. Perhaps that is a role they have in mind for Earl Bennett as well. If they go outside for a receiver at this point, chances are greater it will be Burress. Unlike Jones, Burress has a whole tangle of issues to sort through, including court issues and then a likely suspension imposed by the league. Stay tuned.


Q: You wrote on Friday that Rashied Davis was a "likely candidate'' to make the 53-man roster this season. Why? Didn't he prove he didn't belong last season?

A: Davis certainly didn't shine in his opportunity as a starter last season. He had far too many drops and Davis would be the first one to admit it. But he was not being used at his best position--the slot. That wasn't his fault. If he can regain his confidence, there's no reason to think he can't catch 45 balls or more with Jay Cutler in place now. Davis is a sound route runner who has the quickness and speed to be effective working underneath and in the middle of the field. Drops were not an issue for him in the past. He's a good presence in the locker room, he could have his role expanded on special teams too. Davis should have the opportunity to be more productive with less playing time. He led all wideouts in playing time last season and that is unlikely to happen again.


Q: What is the biggest remaining question mark for the Bears as they stand right now?

John I., Chicago

A: The defense, as a whole, is the biggest question mark for the franchise. Lovie Smith has built his considerable reputation on that side of the ball and will be taking over as the play caller. The Bears have to play much better defense in 2009 to succeed and make a legitimate playoff run. If you're asking about a single position, some people might present free safety as the No. 1 question for the club. It's certainly something that needs to be ironed out but we suggest that there is no bigger issue on the team right now than the unsettled and unproven situation at wide receiver. Football teams can manufacture a safety. The Bears have proven they cannot manufacture performance and production at wide receiver. General manager Jerry Angelo is confident Cutler will raise the bar for everyone. Hey, it can't go any lower at this point.


Q: Why are the Bears so down on Brandon Lloyd? I don't get it. At least until he got hurt last year, he was (I thought) clearly the Bears' best wideout. Admittedly, that doesn't say much, but considering the lack of upgrading, it does still say something. Why not another one-year deal?

Andrew H., Parts Unknown

A: You are referencing a pretty small sample set when you say Lloyd was the Bears' best receiver before he got hurt. Lloyd's knee injury happened in the Week 4 meeting with Philadelphia and when he took six weeks (five games plus the bye) to return, that pretty much sealed his fate. Ron Turner is or was one of Lloyd's biggest supporters in the league but he simply didn't produce enough to warrant bringing him back. The Bears believe veterans like Lloyd and Marty Booker stood in the way of progress for a player like Bennett. That probably means they feel like Lloyd would stand in the way of progress for Bennett, Iglesias, Johnny Knox and Derek Kinder this time around. The Bears don't need to look for complementary receivers. They need to look for a No. 1. We're officially declaring this the final Lloyd question in an offseason that has seen too many of them for this reader's eyes.

Thanks for all of the participation and thanks as always for reading. We will check in with Four Down Territory again next week.

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24 Comments

Nice writing about Rashied and I hope you're correct that last year was an aberration, but I was at the game he lost for us and Rashied Davis' drop that cost us a game was right in the middle of the field where slot receivers earn their pay. Call it a lack of concentration or whatever, none of us are perfect, but the biggest screw up of his career happened in exactly the position you write that he is best qualified to play.

About the only receiver I think that would be availible that'd I like to see is Bolden. These guys sre going to be alright and bringing in a problem receiver or one that can only play half a season isn't going to help the team. It'll just mess up the season. Bolden or go with what we have right now. If they get Plax they might as well got TO. Plax playing 8 games this season is not going to do us any good

Somehow, someway I think JA needs to pull the trigger one more time.
Get a big veteran receiver. Whether it be Jones or Burress. The Marshall controversy can wait till free agency next season, if he keeps clean. But, I just would feel like the Bears would be a more finished product with a veteran on the roster. Go Bears!!!!

Let's face it folks, it's either Jones in the next week or two....or Plax after the 15th case is up to determine what's going to happen for him in '09 whether he plays or not. The Bears will not pick him up unless they know they will get at least 8-10 games out of him. What about a trade for another received in the AFC?? Someone has to be available for the right price. Look into this JA!!

Brad, do you recall that request Dahlillama made about the Sun-Times pitching in and sponsoring a tailgate plus tickets for the Vikings game at Soldier Field? I haven't seen it addressed by you, and I realize times are tough for all including the Sun-Times, but think about this:

Can you imagine attending a Bears game where Brando's sitting next to Creighton (in a pink bikini or pink lingerie or whatever) who's sitting next to Bill Holland who's sitting next to Da Church of Da Coach???

Dude, that would be more entertaining than the game itself.

Make it happen Brad. Make it happen.

I still dont see what it would hurt to sighn a guy like Jones to a performance based 1 year deal. If it pans out you can re-sighn him knowing it worked. The size & speed combination he provides is simply un mached by any other outside receiver on the roster. And please no more hyping up Brandon Rideau. Yes I know he is the only guy who is 6'3 and a practice squad star. As far as Im concerned that really only means 2 things. That he is 6'3 and a a practice squad star.
The numbers bare it out, Jones was very much on pace for a thousand yard season before the suspension...on a heavily run oriented team. So what if he is not a true deep threat thats what Hester and knox are for. At 6'6 he does have plenty of speed but just as importantly the build to make tough drive susaining catches in traffic with less fear of the big hit from linebackers and d-backs that are often smaller than him. He also has all his legal & league issues behind him provided he keeps walking the line. At 26 he is about to come into his prime just like Hester and therefore would also be more of a peer for the young draftees than a guy who slows his team mates progress. Is he a true #1 WR? Of course not, few teams really have true #1's but he could be a heck of a pick up and compliment to Hester and Olsen and co. Every team could use at leaste one big WR even if just for the matchup options...He would fit well as ours in my view.

I don't understand all the calls for Burress. A lot of talk about league suspension. New York city's Sullivan gun law is the toughest in the country. I'd be very surprised and disappointed if he doesn't get at least a year in the pokey. The usual sentence, I understnd, is three years. If a 31 year old man is too dumb to stay out of this kind of trouble, well, think Tank Johnson.

Have no fear, Bear fans. We will get a receiver!! Jerry ain't messing around this year!! Besides, who cares?? That scrub Orton is long gone just as Jerry said he would be!! Orton SUCKS!!! GO BEARS!!

i dont get why the bears just go with matt jones. he's already comitted to getting better, and he's more athletic/talented than burress. adding burress would be dope, but i would rather go with jones. we wont have to wait for the verdict, and he would have more time to adjust to cutler's arm

Brad nailed it on the issue of the Bears' biggest question mark. While we're all obsessing on the receiver position, if the defense doesn't improve a lot, the most this team can hope for is to win a weak division then be one-and-out in the playoffs. I'm really hoping that the coaching changes do the trick, but I'm going to have to see it to believe it.

Without Burress the Giants don't get to the '07 SB. You saw what happened without him last year, and the G-men had to use their number one pick on a WR. He's that good. I would love to have him for even half the year. He can get you deep into the playoffs.

Burress is a game changer, Jones is not. If you're going to roll the dice on a character issue player, go all the way.

I don't get all of this talk about Jones. He's a possesion receiver and we already have those guys, the TEs. Add to it the fact that he needs to prove that he can keep himself clean (legally). I just don't think that he's done that to this point. I'm not big on Plax either. First off there's not a guarentee that he'll be able to play this season. Second, he's been nothing but a cancer to the team. Being late or missing meetings for no reason. He was fined and suspended from a game and he still didn't learn his lesson. I say stay with what we have and see how things go instead of picking up a posssible distraction or locker room cancer.

Ummmm Rich..what exactly have you seen from matt jones that suggests that he is more talented than Burress even at this stage in his career. Maybe he's a better basketball player or even a better QB, but a better receiver? NO CHANCE!!! I'm fine with the Bears not going out and adding a veteran because at some point we're going to have to develop a receiver along with Cutler. Fans are reacting as if we picked up a 37 year old QB and this has to be the year. Jay is gonna be here for the next 10 years. Are we gonna keep signing whoever is out there for one year at a time... Last year Eddie Royal had 90+ catches as a rookie with Cutler. Yes I know it was different offenses but both Bennett and Iglesias were more productive in college. SO you don't think at least one of them can be a 60 catch guy next year. No 1 receivers don't just fall out of the sky like apparently franchise QB's do, they have to be developed and learn on the job. How will they ever improve stuck behind some mediocre veteran.

I like both Jones and Burres, and I like the way you said depth chart twice lolol. We would truly have a legit offense with either of these 2 on the team, but you make good points about Jones and no jail time or any suspensions - in answer to a question, why all the calls for Burres..... Depth Chart = Super Bowl.
a 1 yr contract would be the way to go.
WR is truly our 1 need area (I like the D that can be switched to safety not excited about it but it will have a shot), but our WR depth is non existent.
With all the hatin on players that get in trouble - one question: Would you kick Briggs off the team??? Leaving the scene of an accident is pretty bad.

I find it interesting that a team that fielded a host of retreads last year is now looking for a number 1 receiver. What happened to the JA philosophy that the quarterback makes the receiver? OK beyond all the hype we have upgraded the quarterback situation but now we are standing in line to await a decision on a felony conviction and a league suspension? This is making very little sense to me. I had a problem with the retreads last year and that worked out pretty much as I thought. All the way up until the draft the call was for JA to find a number one receiver for Kyle Orton now with Jay Cutler at the helm we are going to turn our back on a 26 year old that is 6’6” tall 242 lbs, played in 15 games with 166 total receptions for 2153 yards. Brad please tell me what makes a receiver a number one in this league? Here is a person capable of attending OTA’s now and has no league suspensions facing him so we would have him for all 16 games. I know about the substance abuse policy and the arrest for possession but with nothing holding him back why not ink the year contract and base it on performance instead of waiting in a three way race for someone who if he plays a down this season will possible play 8-10 games if the Bears got him at all. I say lets go the path of least resistance and at least take a look at Jones. I agree with Pitbull Knox and Hester are there to expand the field and move the safeties.

Nicely put Chitown. Fans and the media need to relax about the Bears Receivers. Having a stud QB makes the world of difference and the Bears are fine with what they already have at WR. I'm tired of all the talk about the great weapons Cutler had in Denver. Nobody even knew who Eddie Royal was last year. We'll see how good he is when Orton rushes a throw behind him or under throws him on a deep ball. 2 years ago Marshall was behind Ashley Lelie on the Denver depth chart. Cutler made him a star, he'll see a huge drop off this year also. Olsen is already a better TE then Scheffler and Denver didn't have anything close to Forte coming out of the backfield. How many times was Hester open deep last year and Orton missed him or left the throw short? Those are scores this year and that will open up the middle for Bennett and Iglesias not to mention less 8 man fronts for Forte. Knox will contribute and Kinder may have the best talent of all the rooks. I'd be willing to bet Olsen, Forte and the Bears top 3 WR's have significantly better numbers then the Broncos same players do in 2009. Hell even just the top 3 WR for each team head to head!

Also, Graham will be a star at FS by week 6!

WORD Jackson.

I'm with Jackson on this one too. Defense is the question this year. We're a running football team, remember? The threat of Cutler to Hester down the sideline is enough to keep defenses from stacking 8 or 9 in the box like they have been for what seems like years.

Forte is going to rush for at least 1500 now that we have a quarterback who can throw the deep ball.

What does that mean? More time of possession.

What does that mean. More rest for the defense who prides itself, and plays best when getting a breather on the bench. I've been saying on this blog for a while now that the best thing to help our defense, which struggled last year, is to put some drives together and give guys like Harris a little less wear and tear.

Brad, great article. Bears fans, great posts. I enjoyed this one.

PS. Is it September yet? Longest summer ever. Can't wait for FOOTBALL!

I've wondered about all the hatred for rashied davis, while he did'nt click with orton and an expanded role last year, he was integral to our superbowl run. I remember a third and long against the saints he picked up over the middle being key. Let's give him training camp and a good Q.B. before we talk cut.

http://myespn.go.com/blogs/nfcnorth/0-12-32/The-debate-begins--Cutler-vs--Rodgers.html

name says it all

I agree that Cutler made those WR in Denver, but it would be nice to add some experience, Denver did not make it to the SB either did they? A experienced WR might make the difference for us.

Jackson Wow so Cutler made Marshall and Royal ? Im sure they would love to know that.I guess there careers are now over ? lol

So now Hester,Bennett ,and Davis are gonna outperform Marshall,Royal,and Stokley in the Patriots spread offense while we are still running Turners offense ?

Thats blind illogical homerism at its finest .

Anyone could say how fast will the fans turn on Cutler if hes throws picks like Grossman .

How many times did Hester miss his hot read and flat out run the wrong route blowing up a play ?

Ive never seen so many fans dwell on 3-4 plays as much as they do the Orton and hester on the deep pass considering we know last offseason we had a QB battle, it was Hesters first year playing the position and he didnt even start the first half of the year.

Im excited to see how next year shapes up but the homerism is approaching ridiculous levels now . Last year everyone thought the offense was gonna suck but we scored just as many points as the Broncos "high powered offense" and this was without the benfit of Hester running back any kicks . It was only the 3rd bears offense in the last 15 years to average 20 or more points .

If everything goes well of course we could be deadly but how many times does everything go go well in a entire nfl season ?

Mike: Thanks for the support. Just think how the Sun Times could market this menagerie of Chicago Bear fans that comprise this blog. I am sure that this group would make good morning America and the Letterman show. Believe me the CST would benefit far more than the money they would spend on bringing us all to the Queens game. They could probably get all of the food and drink donated by local companies, the city could kick in and the Bears team could kick in. Brando and Creighton should be seated right next to each other, can you imagine?

Lets face it this blog is being reviewed by players and coaches, you know they read it. I really do feel that the Sun Times, Brad and the bloggers are at times being heard, by the Bears. Maybe just maybe someone like JA listened over the years about finally getting a QB which he did, YES!

They could unveil the statue of JA at the same game we all attend.

On the subject of wide receivers I am absolutely good with picking up Jones but there is a reason that Burress was let go by two of the best teams in the NFL over his career. Although he has huge talent, he is not a practice player and is quite lazy, he makes very poor decisions as evidence of what he is now in jeopardy of jail.

Bears if any one of these NFL veterans players can be had then get one, because the Bears needs at least one proven vet if they make the playoffs.

Pickup in level of importance.
Boldin
Ocho Cinco
Jones
Hackett

and forget Plaxico!

buress, is the better player. i think he hated the coach in new york
he wasn't the only player to feel that way, but how he went about it was stupid. in pittsburg he didn't have those problems, he fit in well and ben missed him when he left, new york missed him when he wasn't able to play last year, the players loved him and wanted him back. fans it doesn't matter if buress misses 8-10 games cause it will give the rookies and bennett time to progress which is what the bears need. at that time the team will know what's up and buress will come in and help us make the playoffs. has everyone forgotten this man is a playoff machine. everyone hester is our number one he puts pressure on long pass plays. buress nor jones would be our number one. jones would be a good number 2 for us ,that's what we are looking for. the number one is who ever is the most productive in the offense, be it catching over the middle and running it in or the long pass play. to me there is no true number one, only if he produces. really with buress and hester we would have two number ones. with jones we would have a nice number one hester will be better this year and a good number two, but it will hurt the rookies progress and one may not make the team and may be good somewhere else, we don't need that. fans jerry has it right and believes he can get buress if he's allowed to play. jerry is waiting to see which way he can go. do you think he didn't have jay call buress. they know that buress wants to play here. jones is plan b if available. everyone the rookies must play!!!!!!!! buress is the best choice. wow hester, clark, olsen, buress, and forte, we don't need a fullback, a lot of first downs and touch downs the defense improves because it is off the field. go bears!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bearfan1973 and everyone else wondering why people like Jones,
He's far better than anyone else the Bears have at that position, regardless of whether he's a possession receiver. You need both types of receivers, possession and speed, and Jones would vastly improve the possession position.

To say the Bears already have possession receivers is silly. In fact, they don't have any receiver who's proven that he can succeed at the NFL level at possession or speed receiver. I liked the way Hester progressed toward the end of last season, but he's still got a way to go to be a good receiver in this league. And I think Davis will play well again once he's put back into the slot position. But the Bears clearly need to get better at receiver, and getting someone like Jones would go a long way toward that goal.

Carlos,
I can't swear to this, but I'm pretty sure I remember that Burress caused problems in Pittsburgh, too. I remember looking at him and Hines Ward and deciding I'd much rather have Ward, hands down.

QBs or Receivers: Which makes the other?
Answer: they both make each other. National announcers were dumbfounded at the fact that Bear receivers did not get any separation last season. It doesn't matter how good the QB is, he has to have someone to throw to. Of course Cutler will make the Bear receivers better, but if those receivers are worse than Denver's, Cutler will not be as good. It's pretty simple and it's not one or the other.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on June 8, 2009 4:51 PM.

Play time analysis: Top special teams participants set to return was the previous entry in this blog.

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