Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Safeties and Wideouts


See, Rashied? Catch the ball, secure it against the body, like Devin here.

Coming into training camp, the Bears announced that Danieal Manning would line up with the starting unit at free safety. When the Bears switched the nickel package, Manning would move to nickelback (where he actually seemed comfortable last year), and Craig Steltz of all people would line up at free safety. Manning was performing well at FS before suffering a hamstring injury that left him out of much of camp. Who stepped up in Manning's absense? Obviously not Craig Steltz, because that guy blows and everyone knows it. Instead, Kevin Payne shifted from strong safety to free safety, where he's performed well both in camp and in the preseason (especially Saturday night against the Giants where he made a couple great tackles and had a beautiful pass deflection), and rookie 7th round draft pick Al Afalava of Oregon State came in and has impressed most observers at strong safety, where at least one writer compared his skillset to that of Mike Brown (who was good when he was healthy, if you can even remember that far back).

All throughout his absence, Lovie Smith has stated that free safety still belongs to Manning, but most people watching the situation would agree that Afalava and Payne have definitely made things interesting. All told, it could be that a position seen as the team's biggest weakness going into camp may look a little stronger, with three deserving candidates competing for time.

At wide receiver the two starters are Devin Hester and Earl Bennett, and after the Giants game, people seem to have shut up about Earl Bennett and the fact that he didn't catch a pass in his rookie year. That leaves three or four spots open at wide receiver, since no one is quite sure whether Bears will carry five or six wideouts into the season. Those three or four wide receivers have to come out of a pool of Devin Aromashadu, Brandon Rideau, third round pick Juaquin Iglesias, fifth round pick Johnny Knox, seventh round pick Derek Kinder, and, of course, Rashied Davis.

I said last week thought I didn't see the Bears cutting either Iglesias or Knox, since Iglesias is far too high of a pick to cut and Knox, with his 4.34 40 yard dash time would never make it through waivers in order to reach the practice squad (as some of suggested the Bears do with him). Kinder will probably be cut, as he was a 7th round flier and hasn't really progressed as much as the others. That leaves either one or two out of the group of Brandon Rideau, Devin Aromashadu, and Rashied Davis. I figured the smart money was on Rashied Davis getting cut, but Larry Mayer of Bears.com said he figured Rashied to be a lock based on his work on special teams, which I find absolutely fucking ridiculous. Rashied is the most expensive of the three, he's the only one of the three to have finished a season tied for 14th in the NFL in dropped passes, and if you'll notice based on the stats:

# Name/Team/Drops/Receptions/Yds/TDS
1 Braylon Edwards/Cle/16/55 rec/873 yds/3 tds
2 Dwayne Bowe /KC/13/86 rec/1022 yds/7 tds
3 Brandon Marshall/Den/12/104 rec/1265 yds/6 tds
4 Terrell Owens/Dal/10/69 rec/1052 yds/10 tds
5t Calvin Johnson/Det/9/78 rec/1331 yds/12 tds
5t Roddy White/Atl/9/88 rec/1382 yds/7 tds
7t Laveranues Coles/NYJ/8/70 rec/850 yds/7 tds
7t Marques Colston/NO/8/47 rec/760 yds/7 tds
7t Greg Jennings/GB/8/80 rec/1292 yds/9 tds
7t Marcedes Lewis/Jac/8/41 rec/489 yds/2 tds
7t Marshawn Lynch/Buf/8/47 rec/300 yds/1 tds
7t Santana Moss/Was/8/79 rec/1044 yds/6 tds
7t Muhsin Muhammad/Car/8/65 rec/923 yds/5 tds
14t Bernard Berrian/Min/7/48 rec/964 tds/7 tds
14t Dallas Clark/Ind/7/77 rec/848 yds/6 rds
14t Rashied Davis/Chi/7/35 rec/445 yds/2 tds

If you look, Rashied Davis has by far the fewest receptions and yards of any of the wide receivers on that list. It's not so damaging for Greg Jennings to drop 8 passes when he's probably targeted over 100 times. It's pretty bad for Rashied Davis to drop 7 passes when he's probably targeted 50 times. My point? Rashied Davis sucks, and it can't really be that hard to train someone as fast as Knox to be a returner or gunner on special teams, whatever it is that Rashied does, and cut his ass. Then I'd cut Rideau and keep Aromashadu, because Devin seems to be a better route runner than Rideau, has better chemistry with Cutler, and he certainly impressed with his technique when he caught that fade from Cutler against the Giants.

So my depth chart at wide receiver would go Hester/Bennett/Aromashadu/Iglesias/Knox.

Either way, I still hate Rashied Davis.