Bears

Hub Arkush: Bears still have options to improve at wide receiver

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who spent the last four seasons with the Cleveland Browns, remains unsigned in free agency.

Asked last weekend if he understood why Bears fans are so concerned about the lack of proven talent at wide receiver, Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy responded, “I think the system will enable some of these guys to play at their potential.”

I understand panning everything Matt Nagy did as a Bear is still popular in many quarters, so perhaps expecting more of holdovers such as Darnell Mooney, Dazz Newsome, Nsimba Webster and Isaiah Coulter remains a possibility even if it feels a bit naïve.

But I find it hard to believe that Getsy believes his new system is superior enough to Andy Reid’s and Eric Bieniemy’s in Kansas City or Matt LaFleur’s and Nathaniel Hackett’s in Green Bay to turn Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown – the Bears’ two most notable free-agent signings at the position – into much more than the career No. 4 or No. 5 receivers they are?

So, I had to ask, doesn’t the lack of playing and starting experience in his receiver corps concern Getsy that it is likely to slow and possibly impede the development of quarterback Justin Fields, on whom all hopes for the team’s rebuild start and end with?

“I think we have enough guys on this team that have played a lot of ball in the league,” Getsy said. “I think it’s just that experience of playing with the quarterback and teaching him the body languages, the signals you want to send to him when you’re ready to make a break [while running a route]. I’m excited to see where these guys can go.”

Now, in fairness it isn’t Getsy’s job to acquire talent.He has no choice but to work with what he’s given, but accepting that, his response still seems a bit delusional.

Chemistry will take them so far, but it isn’t going to make their collection of late-round draft choices, free agents and tryout players more than one of the weakest wide receiver groups in the league, which it is.

And how does that square with the effort to make Fields all he can be?

Sure, there is hope for third-round rookie Velus Jones. He is quite intriguing, but is he really the whole plan to give Fields all the tools he needs?

Fortunately there is help on the street, but does general manager Ryan Poles have any interest?

Here are a few guys he should be thinking about calling right now:

1. Jarvis Landry: He is a five-time Pro Bowler that won’t turn 30 until after midseason. He’s averaged 86 catches and 950 yards a season and carries a reputation of a “quarterback’s best friend” for dependability and uncanny knack at converting third downs.

While not the big body the Bears lack, he would be a perfect compliment to Mooney and Jones in every other way.

2. Julio Jones: Even though this seven-time pro Bowler is on the cusp of Canton, and arguably the best receiver of his generation, he is 33 and injuries have been an issue the past two years.

But flashes of the old Julio are still there. He could be a tremendous presence in developing the young receivers and would give Fields the big body, contested catcher he lacks right now.

3. Will Fuller: Fuller is a much bigger gamble. He’s a 28-year-old former first-round pick that’s shown flashes but never has been able to stay healthy over his six seasons.

But who’s a better gamble: Fuller or Pringle, St. Brown or Newsome?

4. Odell Beckham Jr.: After tearing his left ACL only three months ago for the second time in two years, what would you be getting?

If by midseason it’s the guy that’s been to three Pro Bowls, and he can once again average 66 catches, 921 yards and seven TDs as he has his eight years in the league, don’t you have to at least kick the tires?


Forget how much money these guys have made in the past, if they were going to make anywhere near it this year they almost certainly wouldn’t still be on the street.

This isn’t about winning games, it’s about doing all you can to find out if Fields can be a franchise quarterback. That’s pretty much priceless in today’s NFL, isn’t it?

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is the Senior Bears Analyst for Shaw Local News Network and ShawLocal.com.