Berrian averaged a staggering 20.1 yards per catch for the rival Vikings and Muhammad rejuvenated his career with a 923-yard effort for the Panthers, while the Bears were stuck with arguably the worst crop of wideouts in the league. Devin Hester showed flashes at times but barely resembled the No. 1 target head coach Lovie Smith professed he would be, and former slot specialist Rashied Davis dropped crucial passes time and time again. General manager Jerry Angelo hoped that Marty Booker and Brandon Lloyd could provide some depth as bargain-basement additions in free agency, but Booker seemed old and disinterested while Lloyd solidified his dubious reputation as one of the softest players in football.
Running back Matt Forte and tight end Greg Olsen finished first and second on the team in receptions in part because the talent out wide was lacking, and we have no idea what the future holds because third-round draft pick Earl Bennett didn't catch a single ball.
Inside the Numbers
If there is one position Angelo must consider in the first round of the NFL Draft on the offensive side of the ball, it's receiver. An elite talent like Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech will likely be off the board well before the Bears pick at No. 18 overall, but Hakeem Nicks of North Carolina and Juaquin Iglesias of Oklahoma could be good enough to warrant a selection that high in Round 1. And as far as free agency is concerned, T.J. Houshmandzadeh of the Bengals might be too expensive and is little more than a possession target, but Antonio Bryant of the Buccaneers put together a huge 2008 after sitting out all of '07 and may be the kind of attention-grabbing No. 1 the Chicago passing attack so desperately needs.
Not only would Angelo be wise to bring in a known-quantity free agent in addition to a Day-1 draft pick, but severing ties with Booker, Davis, and Lloyd immediately is another step in the right direction.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
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