Can Markus Wheaton be the deep threat the Bears need?

The Bears receiving core is in a period of transition. There is no doubt about that. With the departure of Alshon Jeffery, the group now consists of a bunch of guys whose value is rather uncertain. Will Cam Meredith step up and become the lead horse in the stable of Glennon’s passing options? Will Kevin White ever be healthy? Will Kendall Wright recover the productivity from his 94 catch 2013 season? Will Braverman, Bellamy or Thompson step up and become legit receiving options? Perhaps most intriguingly though, what is the ceiling for Markus Wheaton?

The Bears have not had a true straight line burner deep threat receiver since Johnny Knox had his terrible back injury. This lack of true speed from the receiver position was masked while the Bears had Brandon Marshall, Jeffery, and Martellus Bennett, all of whom could make up production through their size and strength. Now they are all gone though. Other teams will not respect Meredith the way they did Jeffery, and for good reason, until Meredith can prove he can jump over 5 people and make a circus-like catch every other week or so. The Bears want to run the ball this year, and hopefully they will be able to effectively, with a healthy o-line and with Howard bruising away. But what will stop other teams from stacking the box and making Glennon prove he can throw it effectively?

Other than when John Fox had a healthy Peyton Manning, Fox’s offensive strategies have mainly revolved around pounding the ball on the ground. However, when Fox’s teams have had success in the playoffs, it has not been solely due to his ground and pound offense. He has also had a great deal of success from his quarterbacks closing their eyes and throwing it as far as they can down the field to a streaking receiver burning past corners and safeties alike. Whether it was Jake Delhomme closing his eyes and chucking it towards Steve Smith, or Tim Tebow doing the same thing to Demaryius Thomas; the success of a number of his teams have been predicated on having a receiver that can blow the top off of a defense and force opposing safeties to hesitate before coming in to defend against the run. Can Markus Wheaton be that receiver for the Bears offense? I’d like to hope so. His highlight reel shows that he can burn through coverages and make big plays.

But there are reasons why the Steelers let him walk, he has had poor catching percentages throughout his career and he tends to fall down whenever somebody breathes on him, leading to a lowly 3.7 YAC average in 2015 when he was healthy and having his most productive season. So, will he be able to be the deep threat the Bears need to keep defenses honest in both freeing up holes for Howard and relieving the pressure that will come on Meredith this year? This is a big question mark surrounding him and the Bears coming into this season. What do y’all think?

This Fanpost was written by a Windy City Gridiron member, and does not necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of its staff or community.