The Bears have had a busy start to the first “game week” of their season, but it hasn’t been sunshine and roses.
First, they had to endure the loss of promising second-year receiver Marquess Wilson, who fractured his clavicle while diving for a pass. He’s expected to return to the team at some point this season, although exactly when is unknown.
Then the Bears had to witness the mental breakdown of tight end Martellus Bennett, who went after cornerback Kyle Fuller following a play and threw the rookie to the ground. The Bears announced Tuesday that they have fined and suspended indefinitely their starting tight end.
For an explosive offense that looked to be on the rise, losing two weapons certainly was discouraging. Of the two incidents, the loss of Bennett — although much shorter than Wilson’s impending absence — is of far greater concern.
I like Wilson’s potential. He’s got speed, he’s got height to match that of starting receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and he bulked up a little bit in the offseason. He also has improved his route running and he knows the offense much better now in his second season.
However, Bennett is the far more important target. He’s the guy who will handle the tough catches over the middle of the field in traffic. He’s the guy who will take attention away from Marshall and Jeffery.
Yes, the Bears’ depth at receiver is thin. But depth at the tight end is weaker. And depth only matters when a starter is forced out of the lineup for one reason or another. In other words, Bennett was going to get more snaps than Wilson was, so Bennett’s absence is being felt more at the moment.
I think the point is kind of moot, anyway. I think Bennett’s brain fart on the practice field will soon be forgotten and that he’s smart enough to realize the good thing the Bears have going. He’ll be back shortly to rejoin his teammates and coaches on the same page.
But the Bears’ trio of Marshall, Jeffery, and Bennett — combined with Matt Forte’s pass-catching ability out of the backfield — gives the Bears a far greater offensive edge than any combination that included Wilson.
The Bears would be wise to investigate all opportunities to improve depth at both receiver and tight end, though.