When the initial speculation started up here on WCG about the 53 man roster, I thought there was no way the Bears would keep less than six wide receivers. I even thought there was an outside chance they would keep seven, but only 5... you gotta be kidding me. Former Bears inept offensive coordinator Ron Turner kept six wide outs the last couple years, and their new resident offensive genius Mike Martz actually will utilize some 4 WR sets, so how the hell can you argue that Martz will only keep five?
Then something funny happened the last couple weeks. Something odd started coming over me, my stubbornness started to subside, and I began to see the five WR light. I should have seen it all along.
I started to see how the Bears were shifting so much offensively, and realized how they can quickly outflank a defense with an extra blocker/TE/WR in Greg Olsen. Moving Olsen around so much is something that I think excites Martz. Yes, I know early on his go to sound bytes were something along the lines of, 'if I wanted an extra receiver I'd just insert an extra receiver' or 'tight ends have to block first', but since being around Olsen more he has seen 1st hand the kind of unique talent he has in him. He can start him off as an H-Back or as an inline TE, then shift him all around to see how a defense matches up. If a safety or corner comes up he should have the size advantage, if a linebacker comes over he should have the quickness edge. Olsen is also good at settling down in space if a defense is running zone. I think Olsen will have more receptions than any TE has ever had working with Martz.
The wildcard in the passing game will be the running backs. Matt Forte and Chester Taylor both have the skills to split out wide (a la Marshall Faulk). And I have a feeling Garrett Wolfe made the roster for something other than his special teams prowess. Wolfe could shift to receiver in some sets, and I can envision Mad Mike Martz coming out in a three RB package. Just to give the defense something to think about. Wolfe can have a career year (more than 31 touches would be a career year) with Martz calling the shots.
Keeping Juaquin Iglesias around on the practice squad gives the Bears some insurance in case someone goes down. Having that extra guy around that knows the offense, and has had an entire training camp in the O, is very fortunate. Rookie receiver Greg Mathews also made it back to the practice squad after spending all camp with Chicago. Mathews has some size (6'3") and could develop in a year or two. He showed some promise in preseason.
Johnny Knox, Devin Hester, Devin Aromashodu, Rashied Davis, and Earl Bennett will all get their playing time. Bennett should come on strong once he's fully recovered. Davis will be a special teams stalwart and I wouldn't be surprised to see him shed his dropapotomous label. And between Knox, Hester, and Aromashodu, I wouldn't be surprised to see 2,500 yards. Add in the reps Olsen and maybe Desmond Clark will get split out, and the reps they'll get with one of the backs split wide, and the Bears won't miss a beat in their vertical passing game.
Even though the Bears carried six receivers the last couple years, come game day, usually only five dressed. So what are the Bears, and the Martzfense, missing from a personnel standpoint? Nothing really. If a couple receivers are injured during a game, and they feel they still need to spread the defense out, they'll simply slide Olsen more to receiver or run formations where a RB is split out. If a WR is injured for a lengthy amount of time, they have the option to activate one of their practice squad players.
After looking at the current roster, seeing some of the movable parts, thinking back on the inactive 6th WR in years past, seeing the history the Bears have of wide-outs on the practice squad, I should have been on the five WR bandwagon from the start.