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Position-by-Position at the Bye: Pass Catchers

| October 29th, 2014

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers

The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

The biggest issue with grading this group? Once Forte is taken out of the mix there are only three players who can even receive a grade.

  • Here are two statistics I think explain Brandon Marshall’s lack of productivity. (1) Last year Marshall caught passes over 61% of the times he was targeted. This year that number is ten points lower, slightly above 51%. (2) Last year year Marshall had 70 first downs. This year he has 24 through 8 games. Marshall almost single-handedly won the San Francisco game, making acrobatic catches on one leg, but outside of that evening he’s been shell of his dominant self. Is injury to blame? Perhaps. But he is playing and he must be evaluated based upon that play.
  • Alshon Jeffery has been the most misused wide receiver in the sport this year. Are the Bears really so out of ideas that they’ve decided to exclusively run Devin Hester’s playbook for Jeffery? You know, bubble screen, end around, bubble screen, bad button hook that gets inevitably dropped…etc. When Jeffery has been used to stretch opposing defenses vertically (Atlanta, Jets) the passing game has thrived. But it seems to be an element drifting slowly out of the playbook.

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Game Preview Addendum: Opportunity for Holmes, Unicorn v. Willis, Special Teams!

| September 12th, 2014

Santonio-Holmes-Chicago-Bears

Four additional thoughts as we head towards San Francisco:

  • If Alshon Jeffery does not play Sunday night, and all evidence seems to be pointing in that direction, attention shifts to two individuals: Martellus Bennett and Santonio Holmes. Bennett looked like one of the better tight end receiving threats in the league in week one and his rapport with Cutler seems to have grown precipitously in their second off-season together. Holmes came to Chicago to rejuvenate a self-sabotaged career and never will have a better opportunity to showcase that rejuvenation than in prime time against one of the better teams in the league.
  • Matt Maiocco at CSN Bay Area breaks down the matchup between Bennett and Niners linebacker Patrick Willis:

Tale of the tape
Willis (52): 6 foot 1, 240 pounds, eighth season, Mississippi
Bennett (83): 6 foot 6, 265 pounds, seventh season, Texas A&M

Willis returned to the mike linebacker position this season, taking over NaVorro Bowman’s old role. He found himself in coverage against Dallas tight end Jason Witten in the season opener.

Willis came through with a big day, holding Witten to just two catches for 14 yards and providing a big play with an interception in the end zone.

“I feel like we did a decent job, but I always feel like we can be better,” Willis said. “I always feel like I can be better.

“There were times I could’ve played a little tighter. Every week is a challenge, and I won’t tell you something I wake up looking forward to every day is going out there and covering, but we do what needs to be done.”

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Thoughts Entering the supposedly important Third Preseason Game

| August 22nd, 2014

I’ve already written about the importance — or lack of importance — of tonight’s game in the grand scheme of things, but there are a few things that are worth watching:

  •  If, when and how long does Santonio Holmes play? Are they going to throw him in with the starters as the third receiver right away? Does he still have to beat Josh Morgan out? Then, of course, how does he look? Will we see some of the explosiveness he showed early last season or in his days with the Steelers? Holmes has a chance to be a big part of what the Bears do this season. The Bears need to find out if he’s up to the challenge as soon as possible.

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