Chicago Sun-Times

12 days to Camp: Pro Bowl WR not needed for Super Bowl winners

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Who says you need a Pro Bowl wide receiver to win the Super Bowl?

Not Rick Gosselin, that is for sure.

The veteran Dallas Morning News' scribe did an interesting breakdown of Super Bowl winners from 1991 to present and how the makeup of offenses has changed. History proves you don't need an elite receiver to win the Big Game, not anymore any way. It's good news for the Bears, right? They have nine wideouts on their roster right now and two of them have more than seven career catches--Devin Hester and Rashied Davis. The other seven--Devin Aromashodu (7), John Broussard (4), Earl Bennett (0), Juaquin Iglesias (0), Johnny Knox (0), Derek Kinder (0) and Eric Peterman (0)--have 11 combined receptions. Yes, more than half of the receivers on the roster have not caught a pass in the NFL making position coach Darryl Drake's job about as important as anyone's entering this season.

"Neither of the last two Super Bowl champions - Pittsburgh in 2008 or the New York Giants in 2007 - had a Pro Bowl wide receiver that season. Neither had a Pro Bowl quarterback, for that matter. The Steelers finished 17th in the NFL in passing and the Giants were 21st.

"When the New England Patriots won back-to-back titles in the 2003 and 2004 seasons, their top wideouts failed to crack the NFL's top 30 in receiving those seasons. Deion Branch finished 42nd in 2003 and David Givens 40th in 2004. Baltimore's top wideout in its 2000 championship season was Qadry Ismail, who finished 68th in the NFL.

"Only two NFL champions in the 2000 decade lined up a Pro Bowl wide receiver in their Super Bowl seasons - Troy Brown for the Patriots in 2001 and Marvin Harrison for the Indianapolis Colts in 2006. The rest preferred quantity over quality on the flank."

Gosselin provides a chart comparing the top wideout for the Super Bowl champs from 2000 through 2008 to the top wideout for the Super Bowl champs from 1991 through 1999. Five wideouts from the 1991 to 1999 group made Pro Bowls. Two in the more recent group were selected, including Harrison for Indianapolis in 2006, the year the Colts defeated the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

There are some key points made in this story but the question right now is not if the Bears have an elite wide receiver for new quarterback Jay Cutler. The burning question is whether or not the Bears have enough wide receivers worthy of regular playing time in the NFL? I doesn't matter if you have Cutler or Kyle Orton at quarterback, you're not going to make a living pushing the ball downfield to tight ends and running backs.

What can a dominant receiver mean in the postseason? Consider Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald, whose four-game postseason run included 30 receptions for 546 yards and seven touchdowns. To put that in perspective, Hester was the only Bears wide receiver with more yards in 2008, and the Bears haven't had a wideout score that many times since Marty Booker had eight touchdowns in 2001.

Pittsburgh's Santonio Holmes was the third wide receiver to claim Super Bowl MVP honors in the last five years. You might not need a Pro Bowl wide receiver, but you have to have one who can perform big on the sport's grandest stage. It's been 12 years since a running back was named Super Bowl MVP.

*** Over at the National Football Post, Matt Bowen likes the addition of strong-side linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa to the Bears' defense, but the thing that jumps out from this read is his assessment of new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli.

"I doubt they'll disappoint with new D-line coach Rod Marinelli, who's gotten rave reviews from former players I've talked to as well as Bears GM Jerry Angelo. "The best teaching coach in the league," I've heard more than once.''

The Bears injected a little youth into the line with third-round pick Jarron Gilbert and fourth-round selection Henry Melton, but otherwise they're hoping to rediscover their swagger of 2005 and 2006 with virtually the same personnel. Some have questioned the ability of Marinelli to come in, wave a magic wand and make it happen. Bowen and other league insiders believe Marinelli can make it happen, and everyone knows the hard work Marinelli has ahead for the linemen. We've written it before, we'll write it again, pay attention to the individual D-line drills in training camp.

*** It seems that the last month or so has been one projection followed by one list followed by another projection. Well, here's another list ... this time ESPN's John Clayton puts together the top five general manager-coach combinations in the NFL. He ranks Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith fourth.

"Lovie Smith-Jerry Angelo, Chicago Bears: This one might surprise some because Angelo isn't a vocal general manager and the Bears, as a team, usually slip under the radar. They stay in contention most years in the NFC North, and made it to the Super Bowl in 2006. Angelo made one of the biggest moves of the offseason, acquiring quarterback Jay Cutler, who could take the Bears to 11 wins. In the meantime, Smith has taken over the play-calling duties on defense and expects an improved, more aggressive unit this fall."

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Brad - I'd like to see an article on WR's breakout years; perhaps best performing rookie, and 2 yr players for the last 3-5 years. Perhaps a list of the current top 10 WR's and the performance in their first through 3rd years as pro's.

Let's get a feel for the upside on Hester, especially Bennett, and the rest of the clan.

If you think Chicago is excited now, just wait until the first win with significant yardage from the passing game.

It's nice to see Bear's GM Jerry Angelo get some national recognition, especially from someone like ESPN. I think Angelo has done a good job as the Bears GM, and the Bears have been competitive throughout most of his tenure. If Jay Cutler works out, Angelo could go down as one of the better GM's in Bear history.

I like what I'm hearing about new line coach Rod Marinelli also, especially about him being a great teacher. Thats gonna be key for Marinelli, being able to teach the basic schematic's of the Bears scheme to the front four. This is the main reason I think Marinelli was such a great hire, because of his knowledge of the Bears scheme. Marinelli knows this scheme in and out, and should be able to teach it to the Bears d-linemen better than any other line coach out there. I agree Marinelli is not gonna wave some magic wand and make them all pro-bowlers, but what he should be able to do is put them in better position throughout games. Marinelli's rep as a great teacher should benefit some of the younger linemen also. Marinelli is more NFL ready than the last couple line coaches the Bears have had, this will also help.

I also agree the Bears have no proven vets at receiver, but the potential is there. Devin Hester had 51 catches last season, 25 in the final 6 games. 50 catches is pretty good for a guy that has only played the position for two seasons. With Cutler on board now, Hester could be primed for a breakout season. I still think Earl Bennett is gonna surprise some people this season also, the guy set the SEC record for receptions, so you know he's got the hands. I think Bennett's biggest problem last season was he simply wasn't NFL ready, which is totally understandable for a rookie, especially one that came out of college as a junior. Also, Bennett has never been known for his speed, but yet he still set the record for receptions in the SEC going against SEC corners who are some of the fastest in the nation. What does this mean, Bennett obviously has the ability to separate. If Bennett can carry this ability over to the NFL, he could be something special. Another thing working in Bennetts favor, him and Cutler have worked together before, Bennett could be one to watch this season, can't wait till the opener as always GO BEARS!!

Brad ,Great Blog ! Thanks for all the off season info. I was wondering if you had heard anything else about Warren Sapp working with Tommie Harris in camp, or was he just blowing smoke after the Bears hired coach Marinelli ?

The answers about WR seem to be quite elusive. DougR's comment is superb. The tout on Bennet last year, Mike Haas in previous years, "catches every thing thrown at him", and #1 draft picks you never hear of again, makes one wonder. Is having 9 WR's in camp enough to find some help? Bring in arena guys? Is Drake a good coach? How bright do you have to be to be a good wide-out? Randy Moss seems to be able to bring the best out of a QB. For a time I thought he was a complete tool. I guess he grew up. There is no formula.

Excellent, informative blog. Seeing what Cutler can do with the present receivers is one of the most interesting things going this season. We of course hope that his arm will transform them into game-breakers, but only time will tell.

you know why hester and forte got so many passes toward the end of the season? they finally figured out that booker and Lloyd wasnt worth a damn! i really hope i eat my words but i dont think hester will ever turn into a no. 1 receiver. the guy needs to learn how to bounce off of defenders and keep going, if you all notice, he barely gets hit and falls down. yeah, he might be a deep threat which is cool, but if thats all he has then it not great. because they dont go deep every play, maybe a few times a games. i still think we need someone who can play every down that can get yards after the catch! the bears shouldve put bennet in after booker and lloyd started stinking up the offense, atleast that way we couldve seen what he was capable of doing!!!

I like the addition of Tiniosamoa to the defense as well, I think it will make Urlacher and Briggs play that much faster. I really feel like we have a good young group of receivers, and that with time, they will develope into a solid group.

Anyone remember the Bears WRs in 1985? I don't recall Dennis McKinnon ( a legend in his own mind only) or Willie Gault going to any pro bowls.

Santonio Holmes got the MVP award last year, but we all know who should have gotten it - the guy who led the drive.

And it's true that before the Pats got Pro Bowlers Moss and Welker, they had a bunch of no names who won SBs. Funny, when they go the pro bowlers they lost.

Of course you want the pro bowlers. Larry Fitzgerald had the great Dick LeBeau (many claim his absence from the HOF is the world's single greatest injustice, greater even than the situation in the Middle East) so scared sh*tless he had his cover two safeties (that's right, the great LeBeau used the scheme Bears' fans blame for every loss) backed up near the Georgia border and he STILL scorched them.

So sure, I'll take a PB WR. But they are not nearly as important as the QB, the single most important offensive player then, now and always.

I still think that Knox is the sleeper in this draft. He could make Chicagoans forget about Johnny Morris.

By Brad Biggs on July 19, 2009 2:55 PM
I have not heard anything about Harris getting together with Sapp but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened.

Actually it has not happened. Sapp did an interview on with fans, and some Bear fans asked him if Harris had contacted him. He said Harris would not even return his phone calls and stated it was pretty insulting.

As for Pro Bowl Wide Recievers. You don't need to go to the Pro Bowl every year to be a Pro Bowl calibur reciever. To say a guy didn't make the Pro Bowl that year means nothing, it doesn't change the fact that he has the kind of ability it takes to get there.

99/00. Rams, I don't even need to mention the recievers on this team.
00/01. BAL, The talent level on this team was insane, one of the top 3 defenses ever, Shannon Sharpe, Priest Holmes, Jemal Lewis, Ben Coats, Ismail broke a 1000 yards twice in 4 years with BAL, oh and the defense. So if you have one of the best defenses in NFL history a HOF TE, 2 All Pro RB's and decent recievers you can over come not having a Pro Bowl reciever. Well if this is all it takes to be a SB team what are we waiting for.
01/02 NE, Troy Brown and Tom Brady and a great defense, plus a great O-Line..
02/03 TB, This has to be a joke, this guy missed Keyshawn Johnson and Keenan McCardell, he also missed Brad Johnson, Alstott, Dilger, thats 5 Pro Bowl position players. Plus they had a loaded defense.
03/04 NE (again) Same as before.
04/05 NE No Troy Brown but still solid recievers, with two starters going for almost 900 yards each, Dillion at RB, Brady, plus a great defense and offensive line.
05/06 PIT, Big Ben, Parker, Hines friggin Ward, An O-Line with 3 Pro Bowlers on it, Miller, oh and another great defense, so lots of talent on offense and defense.
06/07 IND, (you all remember that) Just Loaded on offense, and a bellow average defense. Really good Recivers and a really good QB. There is what 2 future HOF plus 6 pro bowlers on that offense, a HOF coach.
07/08 NY, Nope no Pro Bowl recievers finally, just 2 recievers that have had multiple thousand yard plus seasons in Plaxico and Toomer, thats a decent combo of talent, Very good offensive line, great running game, decent QB, and lots of talent on defense, there biggest trait on D being they could get to the QB whenever they wanted. Not a great team but a really good team.
08/09 PIT, not a great offense do to the line being so injured but still lots of talent with Ward, Rothlisberger, Holmes, Parker, Miller, and an awsome defense.

So basically if you want to win the Super Bowl you need lots of talent, a great QB and really good recievers seem to really help, a running game, and a great defense also seems important. So basically you need an awsome team to win the Super Bowl. So I hope you all feel enlightened now that you know it takes a great to awsome team to win the Super Bowl most of the time.

You know you should feel special for having read this, or you should feel like an idiot for actually reading all this which is really just a big waste of time because you already know this, or at least should already know this and you still read it anyway. What where you thinking?

ahhh...brad tahts not true sense wehn i paly madden (on rookie mode) i have randy moss ans andre johnson on my team with lary fitgerald in the slot. it was simple i just traded some draft picks to get them. oh ans wehn i played with my team we went to the superbowel!!! so taht means you do need pro-bowel receevers brad i just gave you proof also i am always right ans i only give facts.

ans just to let al you loosers now....if you read my posts then "you should feel like an idiot for actually reading all this which is really just a big waste of time." wich is true with 100% of everything ive ever written or said.

also brad how is my best frend staley da bear feeling???? you claim to cover teh bears ans yet i never see you report anything about staley??? my mommy told me he has a big tummy ache from eating a big old pot of honey. is this true brad?? can you find out???

but you guys now mi old anonymous/crap-ton/creighton/Mr. Pink Panties...jus trying to be posatibe...

p.s. you loosers actualy read teh garbage i just wrote? ha! What where you thinking?

Finally!!!! Somebody in the media sits down and does a reasonable analysis on the value of wide receivers. You don't need a roster full of household names at that position to be successful.

DougR that is an excellent question. If you want to find a couple sleepers for your fantasy team, here is how you do it:

* Go through the league and sort out the receivers with 2-4 years experience.
* Look for guys who will get a reasonable chance to play and have a good quarterback throwing to them. Select them for the next step.
*Now wou want to go through all the "expert analysis" and hear "talented but".....weed out the rest.
* Now look at the "buts". Look for things like, inconsistent, drops too many passes, runs poor routes, seems like an air-head. Do some evaluation and rate these guys the order you like them.

If you do this, I can guarantee you will find 3-5 breakout receivers remaining on your list that you can draft in the later rounds. It works for me every year.

The point of this blog entry is that the Bears have young receivers who would make this list. The odds are very good that somebody is going to break out.

Of course you don't need an All Pro wide receiver to win the Super Bowl. But you generally need at least competent, experienced receivers. Right now, the Bears don't have one receiver who's proven that he can play well at the NFL level. Rasheed Davis was good in the slot and hopefully will be again, but this is a really minor position. Devin Hester was improving last season and if he continues to do so he'll probably be very good. That's one guy at wideout, and he's not very experienced. The rest is all hopes and dreams, though some of it may be based on perceived talent. Not much to hang your hat on if you ask me. The Bears should still try to acquire someone.

I like Hester alot at WR and I feel he will be the man, except not having a ProBowl WR and not having proven experienced WR at all are 2 different items. Davis? what a joke last year, Bennet, did not even play, Hester while having potential has alot to learn. So I am not opposed to grabbing a great WR and bringing him in, (even if we don't need one lol)

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on July 19, 2009 6:18 AM.

13 days to Camp: Top pass rushers come with steep price tag was the previous entry in this blog.

11 days to Camp: Newcomer Pace, 1st round pick Williams key line is the next entry in this blog.

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