Chicago Sun-Times

Why Dane Sanzenbacher being one of leading receivers is a problem

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It's a nice story, Dane Sanzenbacher's rise from undrafted rookie to one of the Bears top receivers.

He leads the Bears with two receiving touchdowns, and he's tied for second with nine catches.

Sanzenbacher admitted he didn't think he'd be such a big part of the offense so early.

"I wouldn't say it's awkward," he said. "But this isn't really a sport where your individual achievements are going to overshadow you losing games. You want to be a part of an offense that is making plays and getting wins. It's great to be on the field and make those plays. But you want to win ballgames at the end of the day.

"It's something we're all striving for."

That's the problem.

The Bears shouldn't be counting on an undrafted rookie to help them this early in the season. Sure, there have been injuries at the position, mainly to slot receiver Earl Bennett and veteran Roy Williams. But with those guys nicked up, the other receivers should be producing more.

Instead, Sanzenbacher has the only two touchdowns for a Bears receiver, with the other three coming from Matt Forte, Matt Spaeth and Kellen Davis.

That's not a very good recipe for success in a passing offense.

Sanzenbacher isn't to blame; other than a key drop against the New Orleans Saints, he's shown good hands and made a couple of important and tough catches.

But he should be eased into the offense, or -- at the very least -- a player who gets in a handful of snaps. Instead, over the last two games, he's been targeted 14 times. That's the same number as Devin Hester, and behind only Forte (22) and Johnny Knox (15).

"When your number's called they expect you to make the play, and one thing that's been great about being here and this coaching staff is if they put you on the field, that means they trust you can make those plays," Sanzenbacher said. "So you can't really second-guess yourself when you're out there. When you're targeted you have to catch the ball."

That's an admirable comment from him. But other receivers should -- and need to -- step up.

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21 Comments

I think the reason a slot receiver is leading the Bears in receiving touchdowns and is second in catches is simple, they don't really have a legit threat outside, in other words, they don't have a player to man the split end position. Its pretty obvious Johnny Knox is not a split end, he's to weak, he quit on another route yesterday when he had that key drop. As for Roy Williams, well, theres a reason Dallas let him go. As for Chicago's flanker Devin Hester, he's as good as he's ever gonna get, basically all your gonna get out of Hester is 1-2 catches a game and hopefully one he can break for a big gain, so in a nutshell, Hester is clearly not a #1 receiver. The receiving position has now become the teams weakness. And the scary thing is, theres really no way of fixing the position right now? Chicago's in trouble.

The good is its still early, but you gotta wonder, will Chicago be able to beat Green Bay the next time they face them? Probably not. Will they be able to beat Detroit? No. Maybe Minnesota? And I stress maybe. I think the problem is Mike Martz, his offense is not gonna work unless you have two all pro receivers and an offensive line from hell, Chicago doesn't. Again, the Bears are in trouble and are built for a west coast scheme, and like the receiving position, can't be fixed till the offseason when they bring in another offensive coordinator. Oh well, GO BEARS!!

Forte wasn't able to rush his jersey number. The Bears are 33 million under the salary cap and could not get a better offensive line to open holes and protect Cutler? It's like my late dad used to tell me "The Halas Family will squeeze a nickel until the buffalo jumps off and George Halas throws around nickles like manhole covers". Go Bears

Sean, just what in the heck (please excuse my salty language!) are you trying to say? Shame on you Mr Jensen, shame on you. There is nothing wrong with Dane Sanzenbacher leading this team in receptions. It is exactly what Jerry ANgelo inivsioned when he, being the supreme genius he is, brought him to the Bears as a UFA out of college. This to me is proof that Jerry Angelo has a solid record for bringing in talent. Bumstead 1, Creighton 0. Hoorah!

ANyway Sean, you really should try to be more postive like my hero, the great Larry Mayer. For instance this is what he wrote after the game.

"Receiver Dane Sanzenbacher became the first Bears undrafted rookie to catch TD passes in back-to-back games since receiver Marcus Anderson in 1981."

"With three receptions for 62 yards, Hester now has caught a pass in 48 straight games, the fourth longest streak in Bears history."

DO you see how happy and optimisitc that sounds? Nothing like your gloom and doom Sean. In fact it makes a feller feel good about last sunday's game and more importantly this wonderful season to be.

Oh my, Larry Mayer, oh my. Why the Nobel Committee has yet to give him the prize for Literature is beyond me. It is my secret wish, to one day, be just like him. I hold this dream deep in my virgin soul, Bears fans, deep in my virigin soul.

martz has to go.. his scheme doesnt work for this team thus the reason why he was fired twice both by san fran and detroit..

we need a power running game in the red zone and barber is injury prone and a bad move if he cant stay healthy..

sox just got rid of ozzi and angelo and lovie should be next

The bears need an enema !!

So the Grossman fans have been all over the place cause he is leading the Redskins with his sexy Rexyness. I mean really leading them and there top 5 points allowed defense. He just lost, at home, to the Cowboys, and I guess he should have gotten rid of the ball just a little quicker, ooops fumble. He has a good O-Line, his head coach is one of the best offensive minds in football, he has Chris Cooley, Armstrong, Stallworth and Santana Moss and some strange Bears fans still think he is the real deal. Passer rating against the Cards, 74, tonight he cost his team the game.

He just refered to his own passes as long handoff's, cause most of his yardage has come after the catch by recievers. hahahahaha.

Hey the Bears should trade Jay for Grossman, Shanahan will do that deal in a second, so will Jay. Rex is the only one who doesn't want that, I guess he wants to live.

I missed slapping the Grossman fans around, what with him being a backup for so long. I am so glad he is starting again, thanks Rex, for being Rex.

"Hey the Bears should trade Jay for Grossman, Shanahan will do that deal in a second, so will Jay."

I hope your not being sarcastic, Creighton because if that's the case than I totally agree with you 1000%! We also need to find where Marty Booker is at and resign him too! Rexy and Marty Booger! A pro bowl pair they will surely be! I can feel it in my virgin soul yes I can yes sir mm hmm!

Yeah Sean, and it's terrible that little guy in New England is catching all those passes too! Duh....?!

Dane Sanzenbacher isn't Wesley Walker, Ken. Sean is right: this should not have happened. And hold on to those 'duh's.' They are very crude.

Sean... That should be "read VERY well" to get it grammaticaly correct. And the point is still missed in that Welker was an "UNDRAFTED free agent". He played for San Diego and Miami in the pros before landing in NE. A little home work would have clarified the info and confirmed my point. But I agree with your point in needing more production out of the high priced "vets". And Tommy... we don't know what we have in Sanz yet, just like SD and Mia didn't know either. But I like what I see so far. And easy fellas... don't take the "duhs" so personally.

Oh and by the way Sean... I really appreciate that you read my post and responded. Thanks!

Actually Ken, it can reay "too well," it is called a stylistic choice. Miami new Welker was good, he was traded for a 2nd and 7th. None of that changes the fact that Welker is good, and he is good because he is in the perfect offense for him, with the perfect QB for him, he has great hands, runs the most complex routs in the nfl, and while not fast he quick in and out of his breaks, so quick that almost nobody can handle him. Just because a guy is small that does not make him Welker. Not to mention Welker puts up his numbers even though teams key on him and everyone knows who he is. Teams game plan against him, I am not sure Sanz is getting a lot of that at this point.

Be sure to let me know when he starts catching 100+ passes a year. He is a smart player, I am sure it will only be a few years, granted he is no as quick out of his break, his routs are not close to being as complex as the triple moves Welker is throwing around, and nobody key's on him, but hey people win the lottery all the time. I figure the odds are about the same, he does have 66 yards in 3 games. How many drops does he have to go with his 9 catches?

With Grossman, the Skins are 2-1. The Bears are 1-2. The ESPN announcers talked about him as being in the top ten quarterbacks, which, admittedly, is a bit much. The guy has a great arm though, and not all those passing yards were runs after catches.I thought it was also interesting that the ESPN announcers did not think there was a hold on Knox's kick-off touchdown.Unfortunately, the Bears face another pretty daened good quarterback in the Carolina game. I hope this week's practice has helped eliminate the blunders.

"Sean... That should be 'read VERY well' to get it grammaticaly correct."

And while you're in the business of correcting people, wise guy, notice that you spelled "gramatically" wrong.

Ha top 10 QB's on ESPN, more yeah he is 2-1 just like he led the Bears to a Super Bowl, it has nothing to do with the defense. His 86 Passer rating is really amazing, and gosh no talent around him at all. Last week his passerrating was 74 this week 77, oh boy he is on fire. 3td's. 3 picks and 2 fumbles lost in his last two games. True greatness has arrived in the nfl at long last. Didn't he just lose his team a game, with a stupid play? He is 12th in yards, 17th in average, 16th in passer rating. And Grossman is basically the one saying his passes have been basically long handoff's, he said it, and it is true most of yards have come after the catch. He has 5 fumbles in 7 starts for the Skins, 2 this year, he hangs almost every pass, and runs around like a chicken with his head cut off.

Washington is winning on defense and smart play calling. Grossman got 300 yards on a gutted NY secondary. He couldn't get them past a Dallas team starting a QB with Broken ribs. Oh no here come the Rams. Skins have the easiest schedule in the nfl this year.

Which reminds me the all hype team is 1-2, hahaha go Igles keep stinking it up.

I'm happy to see that you bloggers are starting to take grammar a bit more seriously.We all make mistakes, as I did spelling "darned " "daened." By the way, one definition of "too" is "excessively," which Sean used quite correctly. Typos are my bugaboo, but careless proofreading on my part should be corrected.

OMG! Paul got my back on grammer.

Hey Sean can you find Mark P, and smack him in the back of the head. Apperantly Mark likes Madden and is using it to see which players are better in the NFL real world. Mark also went on to ask why, when Jay Cutler was with the Broncos in 2008 he wasn't a better QB, and why the Broncos only went 8-8?

Could you explain to him that the Broncos went 8-8 because they had the worst defense in the nfl, and because of a heavy imbalance of run/pass, not to mention he didn't have one RB break the 400 yard mark. Outside of that, Cutlers numbers were as good or better than Tom Brady's 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2006 numbers. Call me Crazy but I think the difference between Cutler and Brady those years was the fact that Brady had a top 6 defense in points allowed 3 out of 4 years including being ranked first, second and 6th. The Pats Super Bowls came when the defense was ranked First, Second and Sixth, what a shock.

Yes in fact you can have a really good team when your offense is really good and your defense is really good. As crazy as it may seem here in Chicago both sies of the ball can be good at the same time.

You misspelled "darned?' My, my. Don't fret, Paul, the bad boys on this blog harbor deep emotions,not generally expressed euphemistically.

The problem is not that this guy is doing well for an undrafted rookie. The problem is that no one else is doing better. You don't need great receivers to win a championship, but you do need competent ones and the Bears only have Bennett and maybe Sanzenbacher. Hester will never be a receiver, neither will Knox. Williams has too many issues, and if he hasn't solved them by now he's not going to.

There were many receivers the Bears could have gotten who are way better than what they have. But hey, the extended 42- or 46-member extended McCaskey family has to live in opulence, having a good team be damned.

So why hate on the only guy doing good? Because he wasn't drafted? Your recievers and line are horrible, how could Cutler go downfield? Remember what Martz did with Mike Furey? Writers need to write something, even if it is garbage I guess...

I could not speak to the quality of the other Bears receivers (you would have to ask Creighton about that, he's seems to be the authority of NFL talent). The reason Sanzenbacher has the numbers he has is because he can flat out play football. There started to be of buzz about him the first week of training camp. Now this could have been a publicity stunt to push the other receivers, but if that were so it would have ended there and he would have been put on the practice squad. The coaches saw talent there and have been playing him based upon his abilities more than the lack of the others abilities. John Gruden saw it; he spent 2 minutes talking about him on show that was supposed to be dedicated to another player.

The comments about his ability to catch 100+ passes and his abilities (or inability) to run complex routes is quite insightful considering where he's at already without a training camp and only few weeks to learn a pro system.

That being said, the naysayer Bears fans will probably be happy after this year because they’ll probably trade him off to another team after this season where he will go on to catch 100+ passes.
Also, I don't care if my grammar is incorrect.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on September 26, 2011 12:19 PM.

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