No No. 1 Receiver Needed in Chicago

It has been a dry spell since the Chicago Bears had a legitimate No. 1 receiver, but it is indeed possible that sharing the football in Mike Martz's pass-happy scheme trumps the need for a primary target.

For years, the Bears have downplayed the idea of having a No. 1 receiver, preferring a passing attack by committee with any of three or four players capable of being the leading receiver in any particular game, including tight end Greg Olsen or running back Matt Forte.

Just last week, general manager Jerry Angelo revisited the topic.

"The No. 1 receiver is overrated," Angelo said. "We're a receiver-by-committee, and that's a good thing because anybody on any given game could be the guy. So we've done a good job of getting all the guys integrated into the offense."

The share-the-wealth, spread-the-ball-around philosophy is working fairly well for the Bears, with five players having between 27 and 38 receptions.

Coach Lovie Smith has insisted for at least two years that Devin Hester is a legitimate No. 1 NFL receiver, and while Hester sometimes does draw No. 1-type attention from opposing defenses, he is not the team's No. 1 receiver. That would be Johnny Knox.

Knox has quietly piled up 672 receiving yards this season, more than twice as many as any other Bear. That alone makes him the clear-cut top dog.

His 18.2 yards per catch rank eighth in the NFL among players with 20 or more receptions, and he's on pace to finish with 1,075 yards, which would make him the first Bear to crack 1,000 since Marty Booker had 1,189 in 2002. Hester, who has re-established himself as the NFL's best return man, is on pace to finish with 454 receiving yards.

Knox and Earl Bennett should be the Bears' starters at wide receiver, which would allow Hester to continue his focus on returning punts and kickoffs while also getting significant playing time in the offense as the No. 3 wide receiver, or maybe even get Devin Aromashodu back in the mix.

Knox and Bennett are the perfect complements to each other. Knox has the speed and big-play ability to get deep, while Bennett possesses the size, strength and toughness to work underneath, go over the middle and take the abuse that comes with that role. That makes him unique among the Bears' wideouts and gives the offense a dimension it doesn't have without him.


WR Devin Hester
Ronald C. Modra/Getty

PERSONNEL NOTES
QB Jay Cutler is on pace to finish with 16 interceptions, 10 less than he had last season, his first with the Bears. He's on pace for 19 TD passes. ... Forte has 20-plus carries in back-to-back games for the first time this season. In those 44 carries, he's picked up 166 yards, for an average per carry of 3.8 yards, with one touchdown. ... RB Chester Taylor had 11 carries for 10 yards last week and is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry for the season, with one touchdown. ... Olsen has 13 catches in the past four games, getting four last week after three straight weeks of three catches. He also has two of his four TDs in the last three games. ... Hester had four catches but just 41 yards in Week 11 and is averaging just 10.1 yards per catch with two touchdowns. ... Knox leads the Bears by a wide margin with 672 receiving yards on a team-best 37 catches. He's on pace for 1,075 receiving yards but has just one TD. ... Bennett has 15 catches in his last five games for 207 yards and a 13.8-yard average. ... DE Israel Idonije added one sack last week to up his team-best and career-high total to six. ... CB Charles Tillman has forced three fumbles and intercepted three passes and is second on the team with 55 tackles. ... DE Julius Peppers has five sacks after getting three in Week 11 and also has 14 QB pressures.


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