The Bears are a passing team. There, I said it. I don't care what Lovie Smith thinks or says, the fact that he hired one of the sharpest passing game coordinators in Mike Martz and signaled the end of the smashmouth run game ideology in Chicago. The weird thing is that with all Lovie's talk of running the ball, when he first was hired to coach the Bears, he wanted to implement a St. Louis Rams 'Greatest Show on Turf' style of offense to better compliment his get after the QB and cause turnovers defense. Remember the Terry Shea experience? I wish I could forget it.
The receivers are a much debated topic here on WCG; Are they too inexperienced? Do they, as a group, have low football IQ? Where's the true #1? Will they keep 5 or 6 wide-outs? And dare I mention the, 'Move Devin Hester back to full time returner argument'? Relax Bears fans, the wide receivers are low on the list of concerns. And mark my words, they'll end up being a strength of the team in 2010.
Seeing Devin Hester on the end around against the Raiders, a well designed end around mind you, was a beautiful thing. That should be an every game occurrence. I'm not saying to give him the ball on that play every game, but the end around action is so critical to helping pause the linebackers and back side defensive end. It keeps a defense honest. Using an obvious electrifying talent like Hester in as many creative ways as possible is a challenge Mike Martz will tackle head on. It's something that was lacking in years past with that other O.C. (he that shall not be named) calling plays. And for the last time... if Hester starts as the Z receiver (sometimes called the flanker), he's not lining up on the line of scrimmage, so in essence Martz can move him all around the field in various formations, including in the slot. For a brief 2 minute video explaining the X, Y, and Z, click here to listen to Mike and Mike of ESPN.
Now that I got that off my chest, I think it's a safe assumption to think the Bears will carry 6 receivers in 2010. For a good debate on that topic, go here. The Bears carried 6 receivers on their roster before Martz stepped foot into Halas Hall, so there is no way in hell they cut that number to 5 with a guy that will throw the occasional 4 WR set in the mix. According to Pro-Football-Reference, in the years Martz was calling plays (7 years in St. Louis, 2 in Detroit, and 1 in San Francisco) only once did his roster show less than 6 receivers. Now granted, these are the entire full year rosters, so sometimes there could have been some guys placed on IR or some guys signed for a cup of coffee, but his rosters have showed the following WRs, 6, 7, 5, 7, 6, 6, 7, 9, 6, & 8.
The only way I see the Bears going with only 5 WRs is if no one shows enough to warrant a roster spot. I'm talking to you Juaquin Iglesias. He's a draft pick and they usually get the benefit of the doubt, and I suspect he's done enough in camp even if his preseason action fails to impress.
It's looking like Rashied Davis is a lock to make the team. There's been nothing but good things said about him all camp, and as a 5th or 6th WR he'll contribute mightily on the special teams.
Eric Peterman, you picked a bad time to make a big mistake. Freddie Barnes, Zeke Markshausen, and Greg Mathews will all fight it out for a practice squad job.
Earl Bennett will be around. His playing time might be hurt because he's still coming back from his injury, but he's a tough player, and he's a favorite of the guy slinging it.
Johnny Knox just might end up the leading receiver for Chicago and will start at the X. Devin Aromashodu will see time at three receiver spots, the X, Z, and F (F is what Martz calls his #3 WR), and Hester is locked in as the Z. These three will be solid all season long. But that of course is predicated on the offensive line keeping Jay Cutler upright.