View from a Fan

Steve Benitez believes that the Bears need an offensive talent upgrade, but they may already have a game-changing receiver on the roster in Justin Gage.

One of the reasons Terry Shea lasted just one season was his refusal to put Justin Gage on the field. As a rookie, Gage proved he can do one thing and that's come down with the jump ball.

How many times did Gage have an opportunity to run that route in 2004? Honestly, I can't remember one.

I realize Gage is not a polished receiver, but with all the flags flying for

Being a fifth round pick doesn't get you the same look that eighth choice in the ‘01 draft gets you but, David Terrell didn't beat Gage out in training camp. He was handed the job after Marty Booker was traded and the offense never recovered.

Granted, Terrell had an impressive start to the season statistically. However, his antics cost the team on several occasions and he finished the year with a double-digit penalty total. That's bad for an offensive lineman, but unforgivable for a wideout.

To put things in perspective, in John Shoop's last season running the offense, Gage caught 17 balls despite playing in only about half the games. This year, Jason McKie had more receptions than Gage's 12. For all his complaining about Shoop, Terrell had one more catch (43) in his system than in Shea's.

The hope is that with Ron Turner calling the plays, he'll see what Gage can do and give him a shot to compete with Terrell. Turner has seen both players in college and has some idea of their strengths of weaknesses.

The Bears still need to find help on the offensive line and tight end, so assuming the Bears should use the fourth pick in the draft on a wideout would be a mistake. There is talent in the free agent market at all three positions.

Taking care of one or two of the need areas would allow the Bears to go after the best player on the board or even trade to down to secure multiple picks on the first day of the draft.


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