Chicago Bears Season Preview: Wide Receivers
The last time the Chicago Bears had a 1,000-yard receiver was Marty Booker in 2002. Booker finished the season with 1,181 yards as he posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons from 2001-02.
That's a long time coming for another 1,000-yard receiver in the Windy City.
With the acquisition of Brandon Marshall, the Bears now have a serious receiving threat on their hands. Partnered with Jay Cutler once again, Marshall and Cutler look to regain that magic they had in Denver during the early part of their careers.
Marshall brings receiving numbers Bears fans haven't been too accustomed to seeing over the past several years. Last season with Miami, Marshall finished with 81 receptions, six touchdowns and 1,214 yards. By far better numbers than any Bears receiver in a long time.
The addition of Marshall gives the Bears another weapon on offense. More importantly, it gives Cutler a solid No. 1 receiver. Something he hasn't had in his brief stint with Chicago.
The Bears struggled at times in the receiving department last year. They looked flat-out awful and it was a frustrating time. The good news is that the Roy Williams experiment is over; the bad news is they lose another speed threat in Johnny Knox.
It was obvious the Bears needed to make an upgrade, and who better than Brandon Marshall? Reuniting Marshall and Cutler was a great move by first-year general manager Phil Emery.
Even with the acquisition of Marshall, the Bears still weren't through upgrading the position.
They traded up in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft to grab wide receiver Alshon Jeffery from South Carolina. The big, physical receiver will complement Marshall on the outside and gives Cutler another big red-zone target.
Jeffery could be a potential breakout receiver in the NFL this season. With the additions of Jeffery and Marshall, the Bears have upgraded to having one of the better receiving corps in the NFL.
Although Chicago brought in two wide receivers, the core they had already in place will still contribute.
Earl Bennett is expected to be a slot receiver in the Tice offense, and being one of Cutler's favorite targets, Bennett will surely get his looks during the season. Bennett is one of the more underrated receivers in the NFL. Over the past three seasons, Bennett has the best drop rate among receivers in the NFL.
According to ProFootballFocus, with 127 catchable balls thrown to him, Bennett has only dropped four of them. That lands him at 3.15 percent and the best in the NFL.
With Bennett sitting in the slot and seeing action as the No. 2 guy at times, the Bears also feature a speed threat on the outside.
That speed threat is well, you guessed it...Devin Hester.
This could be a breakout year from the Pro Bowl return man. Hester will not be the feature receiver on the team and that should benefit him greatly. Playing alongside guys like Marshall, Jeffery and Bennett, Hester is poised to have his opportunities down the field.
He just has to make the most of those opportunities with his hands and speed.
The receiving corps will be a big part of Chicago's offense this season. With Jay Cutler at the helm at quarterback, we could see a big year from this receiving corps.
The Bears finally went out and grabbed the No. 1 receiver they needed. The question is can he produce? Marshall has had a problem with dropped passes in recent seasons, but he's teamed up with Cutler again and the recipe calls for success.
Whoever is matched outside with Marshall could be key for the Bears. Do they go with the sure-handed Earl Bennett? Or do they go to the young, physical receiver in Jeffery?
The Bears feature a speed threat with Devin Hester that will give opposing defenses fits. Whoever plays the slot for Chicago will be called upon to produce. Luckily they have Earl Bennett, who has answered the call a few times before.
This article is also featured at ChiCitySports.com, follow Zack on Twitter @Zack_Pearson.
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