There’s a lot of noise being made about Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett this offseason. For instance, Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune addresses the plans that offensive coordinator Mike Martz has to increase Bennett’s role in the offense this season.
“’We didn’t throw it to him enough,’ Martz said on the [Bears] website. ‘That will be remedied. He will figure in a much larger role than he did last year. He came to us late. He was injured. I wasn’t really sure where he was with all the stuff. But he established himself as a guy who needs to get a lot more balls than he did.'”
“Martz referenced having Bennett play inside and outside and that’s something that has been missing — a player with the skill set to handle both roles. That’s what many of the true No. 1 receivers in the NFL can do. Whether or not Bennett is cut out for a star role remains to be seen, but certainly he’s capable of bigger and better things than he was allowed to display this past season.”
ESPN‘s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert comments further.
“That tells me Bennett is likely to start opposite [Johnny] Knox in Martz’s scheme, with Hester serving perhaps a less prominent role. That would jibe with what coach Lovie Smith said in March at the NFL owners meeting, where he suggested the Bears could be more efficient with [Devin] Hester‘s playing time on offense. Indeed, Smith said he would like to ‘take away some of his reps and get him involved in the ones where he’s out there.'”
I’m all for not trying to use Hester as a number one receiver. Hester has plenty of talent but I think its become obvious even to the Bears coaching staff that wanted it for him so badly that he doesn’t have the instincts for the role.
But is Bennett really the guy you want to put out there in his place? True, the two are almost polar opposites, and that’s what makes this situation so funny. Bennett seems to have very good instincts and fits the role that the Bears have put him in to a ‘T’. But if you are going to put him on the outside, he’s going to be matched up with cover corners where he’s going to need speed to succeed.
This sounds to me like its going to be another disappointing development in the continued search to find the wide receiver that the Bears badly need. Eventually they’re going to have to come to the realization that the solution lies outside the organization.