During a season in which Brandon Marshall set multiple franchise receiving records, the Bears' passing game was missing two key components.
Beyond a tight end to occupy the middle third of the field, a serious need for Marc Trestman's new coaching staff, the Bears could use a wide receiver who can be a vertical threat. Johnny Knox went out in December 2011 with a spinal cord injury and hasn't been replaced. Devin Hester hasn't come close to filling the void.
That missing vertical element — Knox averaged 19.6 yards per reception in 2011 — made it easier for defenses to contain Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery and limited the offense's explosiveness. This isn't a top priority but it's something the Bears likely will address and they know they cannot count on Knox, who can be retained for this season if the Bears choose because his contract rolls over after he spent the entire 2012 season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. The Bears could elect to evaluate him in the offseason and then take him to training camp to see if he can make the team.
But the offense cannot bank on anything from Knox and there will be options in the draft. The idea is to find a budget bargain who can get on top of safeties and force them to turn and run. That would give quarterback Jay Cutler chances to take shots down the field.
When Trestman was the Raiders' offensive coordinator, Jerry Porter filled that role with Tim Brown and Jerry Rice primary targets. A vertical threat opens up throwing lanes for intermediate routes like the deep dig and deep curl. It would create more opportunities for Marshall, Jeffery and a tight end, if the Bears had one.
Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin is the fastest wide receiver here for the Senior Bowl and says he plans to smoke the competition at the NFL scouting combine. How fast does he predict he will be in the 40?
"Faster than everybody else," Goodwin said. "Thank you very much."
Bears searching for vertical receiving threat
Chicago Tribune | Jan 25