In this week’s edition of ‘Take 2,’ Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times and Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly go back and forth on the Bears’ wide receiver developments, and what they mean:
Finley: Kevin, I have two stats for you: only four players posted more receiving yards than Cam Meredith’s 130 on Sunday. Also, the Bears’ former undrafted free agent now has 182 receiving yards – five fewer than former No. 7 overall pick Kevin White had before leaving his fourth game with a high ankle sprain and spiral-fractured fibula. My questions for you: is Meredith a revelation, or the beneficiary of playing an inept Colts defense? And what does that say about the Bears’ passing attack, and of White?
Fishbain: Meredith’s performance, minus the fumble, was certainly a bright spot for the Bears, but an undrafted guy who barely saw the field until Kevin White got hurt? Are we to think that Meredith has always been this good, but it was just a crowded receivers room? Bad defense or not, he played very well, and having depth at that position is not a bad thing. Meredith has more experience than White in the offense and with Brian Hoyer, but does his big day mean a ton for the long-term? Are Bears fans supposed to get excited about a Jeffery-Meredith-White trifecta at some point?
Finley: I dunno about that, Kev. There are a lot of moving parts: Jeffery’s contract situation at the end of his one-year franchise tag and White’s return this season – or not – from injury. There’s only one football, as the saying goes. Here’s what concerns me about the Bears’ offense against the Colts: Meredith had 12 targets, Jeffery six. I understand that Brian Hoyer is a skilled rhythm passer who distributes that ball all over the field, albeit on short routes. But if he can’t find Jeffery, is he qualified to run the Bears’ passing attack? Are the catches good for Meredith, but bad for the Bears?
Fishbain: To quote Jeffery himself, “All I know is we didn’t win the game.” Meredith looked good, Hoyer looked good, Eddie Royal made some plays despite missing a week of practice, but the Bears lost to a bad Colts team. Hoyer has to get more comfortable putting the ball up for Jeffery. It’s one thing to elevate Meredith, Royal and Zach Miller, but it doesn’t mean anything if the Bears lose while their highest-paid player isn’t getting the targets. Bears fans may laugh, Pat, but there’s one more receiver to think about moving forward: Marquess Wilson, who could enter the mix next week!
Finley: You’re right: While he can conceivably play that Thursday in Green Bay, color me skeptical that he’ll be ready to return. After breaking his foot — again — in June minicamp, he’ll return to practice Friday, six days before the game. That leaves him exactly two full practices. There’s no way he’ll be ready to play well. In the second half of the season, maybe he can compete with Meredith. But he’s in the last year of his deal; Meredith is in his second season. Isn’t it the Bears’ obligation to give preference to those who might be on their next good team? Or will they play the one who helps them win?
Fishbain: Meredith is this regime’s guy, Wilson isn’t, so that’s noteworthy for the future – plus Wilson will be a free agent next year. Time flies! The Bears like their depth at receiver and it’s only boosted by the performance of Meredith, plus, we have yet to see this year’s draft pick, Daniel Braverman. For now, fans can get excited about a young receiver, even if it’s not the one everyone was expecting.