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Chicago Bears: Leading Receiver for Each of the Last 25 Years

Paul EideContributor IJanuary 31, 2012

Chicago Bears: Leading Receiver for Each of the Last 25 Years

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    Every Bears fan knows the team needs a No. 1 WR. But what everyone may not know is just how long and how bad the Bears have needed a No. 1 WR. If the Bears are serious about getting to the Super Bowl, then they need to get Jay Cutler a legit No. 1 WR.

    Now.

    A brief glance at the Bears' receiving leaders throughout the last 25 years shows that this area has been consistently overlooked independent of the head coach, GM or whether the QB was Jim Miller, Erik Kramer, Steve Walsh, Jim McMahon or even Kordell Stewart.

    Can we have a real wide receiver now, please?

    As Muhsin Muhammad famously stated, Chicago is “where receivers go to die.” After you glance at the list of the Bears' leading receivers for each of the last 25 seasons, you will be hard pressed to argue with Mr. Muhammad.

    Throughout the last 25 years, here is the Bears No. 1 WR in each season—get your vomit bag ready.

1987: Willie Gault

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    Stats: 35 Rec, 705 yards, seven TDs

    One of the fastest players in NFL history, and still one of the fastest humans on the planet.

    Never had a 1,000-yard season.

1988: Dennis McKinnon

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    Stats: 45 Rec, 704 yards, three TDs

    Basically the prototypical Bears WR: not great at any one thing, not particularly fast; just good enough.

    Never had 1,000-yard season.

1989: Ron Morris

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    Stats: 31 Rec, 486 yards, one TD

    486 yards receiving in a season is OK...for a running back.

    Never had 1,000-yard season.

1990-1992: Wendell Davis

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    1990 stats: 39 Rec, 572, three TDs

    1991 stats: 61 Rec, 945 yards, six TDs

    1992 stats: 54 Rec, 734 yards, two TDs

    Davis was the most consistent WR the Bears had since Willie Gault. Unfortunately, he was known as much for his gruesome double knee injury in the Astrodome as his receiving exploits.

    Never had 1,000-yard season.

1993: Tom Waddle

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    Stats: 44 Rec, 552 yards, one TD

    Some of the youngsters may not know that Waddle, a frequent NFL Network contributor, was one of the Bears' most consistent receivers for a three-year period.

    Never had a 1,000-yard season.

1994, 1995: Jeff Graham

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    1994 Stats: 68 Rec, 944 yards, four TDs

    1995 Stats: 82 Rec, 1,301 yards, four TDs

    The sneaky-fast Graham was a technician at WR, making the most of his lack of speed to outwit defenders. He was a major contributor for the Bears' 1994 playoff team and to Erik Kramer’s 1995 season, which is still the most productive season for a QB in franchise history (3,838 yards, 29 TD).

    His lone 1,000-yard season in 1995 was the first since Dick Gordon in 1970.

1996: Curtis Conway

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    Stats: 81 Rec, 1,049 yards, seven TDs

    Conway was the most exciting Bears WR since Willie Gault. His back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in ’95 and ’96 made him the first Bears player to accomplish the feat.

    These days, he’s married to boxer Laila Ali.

    Conway had two 1,000-yard seasons.

1997: Ricky Proehl

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    Stats: 58 Rec, 753 yards, seven TDs

    Back to reality. Proehl’s ’97 season was a successful one, considering the Bears didn’t plan to rely on him that much entering the season and that he only started 10 games.

    Never had 1,000-yard season.

1998: Bobby Engram

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    Stats: 64 Rec, 987 yards, five TDs

    The Bears drafted and developed Engram into a prototypical possession WR.

    Never had 1,000-yard season.

1999, 2000: Marcus Robinson

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    1999 Stats: 84 Rec, 1,400 yards, nine TDs

    2000 Stats: 55 Rec, 738 yards, five TDs

    Robinson’s ’99 season came out of nowhere, setting a team record in single-season receiving yards, but was never duplicated again in his career. It took him the next four seasons to accumulate 1,400-plus receiving yards total.

    An injury during the 2000 season limited him to 11 games and unfortunately, limited the rest of his career.

    Robinson had one 1,000-yard season.

2001-2003: Marty Booker

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    2001 Stats: 100 Rec, 1,071 yards, eight TDs

    2002 Stats: 97 Rec, 1,189 yards, six TDs

    2003 Stats: 52 Rec, 715 yards, four TDs

    In 1999, Booker became the first Bears WR to post a 100-plus-yard receiving game since Willie Gault in 1983—18 years. His 100 catches in ’01 is a franchise record and he made the Pro Bowl in 2002.

    Booker had two 1,000-yard seasons.

2004: David Terrell

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    Stats: 42 Rec, 699 yards, one TD

    Man, did Terrell have some serious potential. He could never live up to it. He was out of Chicago the following year and never played in the NFL again.

    Never had 1,000-yard season.

2005, 2006: Muhsin Muhammad

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    2005 Stats: 64 Rec, 750 yards, four TDs

    2006 Stats: 60 Rec, 863 yards, five TDs

    After a monster 2004 season and a Super Bowl appearance in 2003, the Bears gave Muhammad a six-year contract worth $30 million, with $12 million guaranteed.

    Personally, I think this contract is exactly why the Bears have shied away from the free-agent market ever since, with the exception being two years under Jerry Angelo.

    Never had 1,000-yard season.

2007: Bernard Berrian

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    Stats: 71 Rec, 951 yards, five TDs

    Berrian developed in to a solid WR in Chicago, primarily as a deep threat, thanks to his speed. Angelo’s decision to not re-sign him in 2008 was one moves he deserved credit for as GM.

    Never had 1,000-yard season.

2008, 2009: Devin Hester

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    2008 Stats: 51 Rec, 665 yards, three TDs

    2009 Stats: 57 Rec, 757 yards, three TDs

    Now that Angelo is gone, can we PLEASE stop the experiment with Hester at wideout?

    Please?

    I’d rather see him in at corner than ever see him lined up in an offensive formation ever again.

    Never had 1,000-yard season.

2010, 2011: Johnny Knox

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    2010 Stats: 51 Rec, 960 yards, five TDs

    2011 Stats: 37 Rec, 727 yards, two TD

    After the neck injury he suffered last season, I wouldn’t blame him if he retired. Brutal.

    Never had 1,000-yard season.

     

    In 25 years, the average stat line for the Bears No. 1 WR has looked like this: 59 Rec, 848 yards, four TDs.

    But why? Why does it have to be like that? Sure, the Bears will always be thought of as a run-first team in an organization known for gritty toughness and cold Chicago winters.

    Sure, it’s cold in Chicago and the weather doesn’t always lend itself to the all-out aerial assault, but that doesn’t stop Green Bay, in an almost identical climate, from excelling with arguably the most prolific passing game in the NFL.

    Please Phil Emery, do something.

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