Bernstein: The Bears Have Bad Receivers

By Dan Bernstein- Senior Columnist

(CBS) Before I make my point, allow me to inoculate myself against yours.

Jay Cutler remains a shaky collection of talents, still prone to too many hold-your-breath throws. The rigid offense of Mike Martz is complicated and possibly antiquated. Blocking is all but nonexistent for the run game and tenuous at best when a pass is called.

Got it? I know it’s never completely cut-and-dried. The reasons for the Bears’ inefficiencies are many, and shared.

But, really. Somebody get open.

Podcast: Bears Post Game Show with Doug and OB

And when you do, don’t try to catch the ball with your face, or let it ricochet off your sternum. Neither tactic is particularly productive.

This is the receiving corps that had coaches and executives so excited, this bargain-basement collection of shrimps, wimps and gimps?

More Coverage:
Holmes: Time For Lovie To Make a Stand Against Martz Offense
Hoge’s Bears-Packers Notebook: Cutler Upset With Offense

The pass-protections against the Packers weren’t so bad. On a few plays Sunday there was time for a deep drop, and the blurry shape of something resembling a pocket. The odd yellow-helmeted menace broke through, but the overall performance was well removed from last week’s Superdome jailbreak.

Man coverage or zone coverage notwithstanding, it seemed like even the completions were near-misses, near-drops or near-picks. This has to stop.

During the summer, Martz called Roy Williams an “elite” receiver, and predicted that he’d be good for 70-80 catches this year. Martz also, I believe, called the Ford Pinto “stylish and safe,” referred to “Blues Brothers 2000” as “a towering cinematic achievement – a great, great American film,” and described Hostess Sno-Balls as being “rich in antioxidants.”

Williams had better still be hurt, because if not…hoo, boy. He would not want to race Julius Peppers right now. Or maybe even Lance Louis. Or Virginia McCaskey.

He bet on himself with this one-year contract, and his current hole-cards are 7 and 2, off suit.

Dane Sanzenbacher is a player no NFL team wanted, despite seven rounds of chances to prove otherwise. He is small and slow. Yes, he’s smart, but so is Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Devin Hester and Johnny Knox are dangerous return men, now rendered less so by the new rule that turns one of the game’s most exciting plays into outfield practice. The Bears need more short fields, and they don’t seem to be coming anytime soon from bringing back kickoffs. Opposing punters have Hester increasingly gameplanned.

Their big plays on special teams have long covered for inadequacies at actually playing the position – that’s clearer now.

Kellen Davis looked big and athletic on his touchdown, but stone-handed on that drop and unreliable as an in-line blocker. Matt Spaeth is a guy. Tyler Clutts will be mentioned to you several years from now, and you will have absolutely no idea who he is or was. Matt Forte will catch a lot of passes this year, and that’s bad.

What’s more, the receiving problem looks worse when we catch ourselves lamenting missing mediocrity. So they don’t have Earl Bennett, Cutler’s favorite target when he needs a hot-read to catch a nine-yard hook before getting absolutely pulverized. Does any sane defensive coordinator spend a down of practice time preparing his group to face him?

And while I’m asking questions, am I really wondering – even for the slightest second – if the offense misses Greg Olsen, the light, speedy tight end who couldn’t block anybody and crumpled to the ground the moment a tackler breathed on him?

No? Phew. OK, good.

But forget all the misguided, unfocused talk about balance, folks. It’s about completions. This offense is built to sling the ball around, just like every NFL offense, phantom pains from past decades be damned. Passing is scoring, more so than ever.

The Bears have issues, now, of course. Cutler needs to tighten up his game, a rush or two for an actual yard wouldn’t hurt, Chris Williams must stop flopping around like a boated catfish, and the procedural penalties are embarrassing.

I just think the illness that truly plagues this team was made more obvious than ever at Soldier Field.

And it’s catching.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: The Bears Have Bad Receivers
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s columns here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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More from Dan Bernstein
  • Larry Horse's Arse

    And Martz hates the TE…but we saw today what a TE can do.

    • Glockster

      To be fair, he didn’t like Olsen because he was a WR playing tight end. For all of Martz’s faults I agreed with him when he said that the TEs need to block, otherwise he might as well put another receiver out there. If only the Bears ever had a decent receiver to put out there

      • Creighton

        What you think Finn is a blocking TE? He is a giant reciever. This is two weeks in a row I watched TE rip up the Bears vaunted D. One ran them over the other ran past them wither way they got killed by a TE again.

  • Joe K

    This may sound crazy, but is there anyway the Bears can talk Randy Moss out of retirement?
    As a life long 64 year old Bears fan, I am tired of the Bears not having a go to receiver that can go get the ball and scare a defense.
    It is obvious Roy Williams is not what everyone had hoped he would be.
    Hester is not a go to receiver.
    Knox has his good points but does not scare a defense.
    Earl Bennett is good, but not a long threat and neither is Sanzenbacher. Actually Sanzenbacher reminds me a little of Tom Waddle (which is good).

    And while we are on the subject, when Lance Louis comes back, can Spencer be moved to left guard so they can sit another Jerry Angelo bust in Chris Williams?

    Don’t even want to start on the play calling………… blood pressure is high enough already.


      My dad thought Sanzenbacher (“HEY! That spelled backwards is Samardizja!”)
      looked like Waddle, too.

      Funny stuff, Dan, about Snoballs rich in anti-oxidants and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

      • Keeper of The Niceties

        Keep your sarcasms out of my Hostess Cupboard, Smart Guys. Ho-Hos…

  • Jeremy Bennett

    The Bears have bad recievers….. This is news. Dan knew this fact along time ago and now they are just proving “they are who we thought they are”

  • Larry K

    You’re right in your diagnosis. No receivers the defense needs to respect, and in today’s football world you’ve got no offense. Give Cutler twice as much time to throw, and with these guys he’d still be in trouble.

  • Brennan

    There are no legitimate receivers on this team. Hester is not an NFL wide receiver. Know is afraid of the getting hit and prone to drops. Williams lacks explosiveness and doesn’t finish his routes. The team, and Cutler for that matter, needs a legitimate target who will consistently make plays. Angelo needs to realize that this is a priority number one this off-season.


    Funny stuff, Dan, and true.
    Problem is, it’s a passing league where wide receivers are at a premium. Or, they’re not supposed to be put in complicated schemes that require Jay to read the plays from a lectern. With bifocals and a tweed coat.
    What’s the point of a seven step drop back, if your never going to throw to a guy forty, fifty yards down field? Get the receivers moving with limited cut/ fake out schemes. Use roll outs and keep trying the run while only 10 points down.
    I’m not sure who any of the Texans were today even after four quarters, but they almost beat the Saints at home.

  • Sanford Sklansky

    Every thing that you and the respondents have said is correct. I really hate to blame the refs, but not calling interference on the Hester pass play was pretty bad. Of course Hester was also stupid drawing that 15 yard penalty after the Urlacher interception.

    Martz is a terrible coordinator. You would think a guy who is supposed to be on offensive genius would find a way to put his offense in position to play better. He obviously does not have the talent he had in St Louis, but seemingly wants to play the same offense, when he does not have the talent to pull it off. Isn’t there a Billy Bean of football out there that can put a team together?

    • Let The Record Show

      Oakland has won ONE playoff series in the Moneyball Era. So I hope not. But if Aaron Sorkin wrote the Bears a script, I’d unmute the volume.

  • John

    I guess when the owner of your NFL team is cheap, 90 years old, and asleep in the owner’s suite, we do not have much to look forward to. We need fans to start demanding that the cheap McCaskeys sell this team. They are a disgrace to Chicago.

    • Tony

      Talking out of your ass doesn’t help you look good.

    • bear fan

      yes.mccaskeys.please sell the team.time for lovie’s coaching staffs to go.

  • tom sharp

    The Bears, like the Cubs and Sox, are plagued by stupid players and coaches. Why do idiots always end up on Chicago teams? No Peyton Manning, or Tom Brady here. My cat is smarter Hester, Major Wright, et al. Martz and Lovie never seem able to adjust intra or inter game to obvious needs and situations. The ownership and the team need frontal lobotomies!

    In the meantime, the money on the Packers will soothe the pain.

    • Bearsfan4071

      The local sports teams don’t make a habit of going after the big-name players that can truly help a team on an annual basis. Rather, they wait until fan apathy reaches a certain point, and only then will they go after and sign such players. It’s been that way my entire life, I don’t see it changing anytime soon unfortunately.

  • F-MArtz

    Send Martz old delusional arse home. Even with the Greatest show on Turf running this offense defenses have studied schemed and game planned for every option this idiot so called genius may have. Hell If Singeltary can see the light by firing this jag hole then why can’t Lovie? If not then wait til next year for any Super Bowl hopes bears fans.

    • Bearsfan4071

      I’ll be waiting for the Super Bowl in about 3 years, when contracts for the coaching staff are due to be in their final year.

  • Bearsfan4071

    Contrary to your beliefs, the talk about balance is neither misguided nor unfocused. Being a one-dimensional offense is NOT a good thing.

    Sanzenbacher has been fairly productive so far (yes, I realize you hate the “try-hard” guys playing professional sports and would prefer only superstar players in all sports), but not someone to fear, likely being the shortest WR in the NFL, KNox is too scared to run routes to completion, esp. over the middle where he’d likely be hit hard, Roy Williams can’t catch a cold, let alone a ball (seriously…letting a sure TD pass bounce off your hips? And you wondered why fans were upset when you didn’t catch anything in preseason!), Hester is good for special teams only, which have been neutered due to the new kickoff rule, and Bennet, while good, is average at best.

    I’d love to have a collection of #2 receivers on the team, if not a #1 or two, but during my lifetime at least, the Bears never put as much effort in finding #1 or #2 receivers as they have in finding a franchise QB. Letting go of the one TE that could block worth a damn (Desmond Clark) doesn’t help because that particular TE could catch the ball as well, and with Angelo’s track record at drafting offensive players…I can’t see any OL that can actually protect the QB and create holes for the RB being drafted anytime soon (speaking of RBs, when will Marion Barber be healthy enough to actually play for the Bears this year? Heaven forbid if Forte ever gets injured badly enough to miss a few games, if not the rest of the season…).

    As Bears fans we should just stay home and watch the games on tv or listen on 780 AM. I’m not saying stop buying tickets, we know that’ll never happen…just don’t use them or sell them to someone else.

  • Run more then 12 times a games

    here’s an example of why the pass happy thoery dont exist .. Siaints passed 44 times for 354 yds with 22 run attempts, NE had 46 pass attempts with 26 run attempts while using several different rb’s for 108 yds . Detroit had 19 run attempts and 46 pass attempts and our beloved ended up with just 12 run attempts. The point the pass happy theory and winning does not exist. You need to run the damn ball and do it well regardless of what type of offensive scheme the OC is designing. If not defenses pretty much know what you are going to do no matter how well the play is executed. Point is it won’t last if a defense know you are only going to do one thing…

    • Bearsfan4071

      I agree. As I noted in one post, being a one-dimensional offense is not a good thing. Obviously you’ll never have a true offensive balance between running and passing plays, but I have no problem with passing plays being twice as much as the running plays. #x as many passing plays to running plays I can deal with, but when you have 4+ times as many passing plays compared to running plays, that tells defenses “we don’t care to run the ball” and they can just concentrate on stopping the passing offense, exactly the same thing as last season, only the Bears don’t have that lucky horseshoe with them this season compared to last season.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Nothing like a Bears loss to generate tons of comments, eh Dan?

    • Not Dan

      (Reader’s Digest version) “How could they do this to MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!?”

  • Gloom, despair and agony on Da Bears « The Presteblog

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  • Cris Benson

    Ok so the Bears trade their best “receiver” Greg Olsen and pick up Roy Williams and as you noted Martz say’s Williams is a “elite” receiver.
    If that is the case the Carolina Panthers must have a “phenomenal” TE in Olsen.
    At this point I have not seen anything that is “elite” about Williams. What is it that makes Roy “elite”?
    Martz has managed to insult the other receivers with this comment about Roy and in the process has proven just how ridiculous his ego is.
    If Roy is “elite” Dane Sanzenbacher must be a future NFL Hall of Fame inductee.

  • Denver Deadite

    Bad receivers, bad O-line, bad coaching, bad offensive coordinator, bad general manager.

    The organization needs to be fixed from the top down.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Deadite is dead-on (no pun intended).

      • Harry's Phlegm

        DD I was going to post almost the exact same thing: Bad players, bad coaching, bad system and bad players for the system, which is, of course, bad.

      • Denver Deadite

        Well, it is Monday morning, so ‘dead’ is appropriate.

  • mike in davenport

    I have no problem with the owners. When it has come time to get new contracts for guys like Urlacher and Cutler, and sign guys like Peppers, they are willing to do it.

    The problem is the General Manager. Angelo has never shown any real aptitude for drafting. You need only look to Green Bay to see what good drafting can do for your team.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Exactly Mike…..the problem at the top is JA.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      What do you mean? Like trading the pick that becomes Eric Weddle for the picks that would eventually become Dan Bazuin, Garrett Wolfe, Marcus Harrison, and Kevin Payne?

      I’m simply ticked because Angelo’s talent evaluation has forced me to listen to Mac & Spiegs this morning.

  • Johny Knox

    Should be ashamed of himself. That pass he gave up on up the middle because he was scared of getting hit was a disgrace. Grow a pair son.

  • Joe in Wisconsin

    The giant inflatable Bear deflated. Symbolic?

  • Jon, Montgomery

    This blog was on the front page of Yahoo! and it reminded me of you guys.

    How is everybody?

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Doing well, Jon.
    Hope you are OK.

    Don’t know if you are aware, we became grandparents several months ago, wonderful grand-daughter.

    • Jon, Montgomery

      Yes, I do remember you saying something about that. A heartfelt congratulations, once again, Grandpa Larry! Hopefully she is doing well.


    A fixture on “Boers & Bernstein” Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 5p, The SCORE’s own Hub Arkush has told anyone who will listen for at least a couple of years now that the Bears have had bad receivers. After the last 2 weeks, both losses to superior New Orleans & Green Bay teams, I’m starting to wonder if the Pro Football Weekly editor/publisher & Westwood One’s “Sunday Night Football” sideline reporter is right on the money about these receivers. To coin a common term I’ve heard Terry & Dan B. use, these Bears’ receivers are bad at football. That includes Devin Hester, along with stiffs like Roy Williams, Sam Hurd & John Knox, who has been invisible the first 3 weeks of the season after leading this team in receiving yards with just under 1,000 yards. If Matt Forte’s not doing the heavy lifting, the Bears’ offense is simply unprofessional.

  • Chicagojon

    Ginsburg’s got a pretty good shoulder-shimmy at the line. I think she could get off press coverage for short 3rd down conversions.

    Of course the Bears are rarely in 3rd and short so even she is not the solution.

  • NFL Week 3: Chicago's Bears-Packers coverage | Eye on Chi

    […] For more Bears coverage, options include Bleacher Report, the WaddleandSilvy twitter feed, and of course Dan Bernstein of CBS and The Score (and another EOC favorite) outlining his simple Bears diagnosis: "The Bears Have Bad Receivers." […]

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