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.

  • Martellus Bennett is having an excellent season and would be considered in All Pro balloting at the tight end position today if Mel Tucker and the Bears defense hadn’t allowed Rob Gronkowski to deliver a stat sheet stacker at Foxboro Sunday. (Gronkowski’s numbers skyrocketed after Sunday’s dominance.) Bennett was a brilliant FA signing by Phil Emery and without him, this passing attack would feel terribly similar to that “remedial” design universally derided by Mike Tice.
  • The Bears have received nothing, outside an oddly-surprising Josh Morgan touchdown catch, from the third receiver position. That is unless you consider the inability of Jay Cutler and Santonio Holmes to execute any semblance of a precision route a “thing”.

The following grade is a fair evaluation of these three players.

Grade: C

The following grade is based upon expectations of these three players.

Grade: D-

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