Chicago Bears All-Decade Team: 2000s

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Marty Booker, WR1

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In Chicago, the place Muhsin Muhammad infamously proclaimed that receivers go to die, Marty Booker was the best we had in the 2000s.  He was a guy that always struck me as a poor man’s #1 receiver, and I think that had a lot to do with his seemingly short & stocky frame (6’0″, 210 lbs or so) when compared to other top NFL receivers.  There was some truth to what Muhammad alluded to and much like the difficulties the Bears have had fielding a top-level quarterback, so too was the case with their receivers in the 2000s.

Booker was drafted by the Bears with a third round choice (78th overall) in the ’99 draft and played as a rookie with fellow wideouts Bobby Engram and Marcus Robinson in a year that nearly saw them be the second duo in team history to each gain 1,000 yards receiving in a season (Robinson: 1,400, Engram: 947).  In 2000, his second year with the Bears, Booker shared the load with Robinson and Eddie Kennison before emerging as the top receiving threat in 2001.

Booker put together two straight outstanding years in 2001 and 2002, eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark in both and totaling 197 receptions with 14 TDs over that span.  He was awarded with a trip to the Pro Bowl in ’02.  Marty’s production dipped a bit in 2003 and in the 2004 preseason he was traded to Miami for Adewale Ogunleye, but did return to the Bears for a mostly unproductive farewell tour in 2008.

His total production in the decade: 329 receptions for 3,895 yards and 25 TDs

Bernard Berrian, WR2

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At number two on the WR depth chart for this all-2000s collection is Fresno State product, Bernard Berrian.  The speedster joined the Bears in 2004 after also being selected with the 78th overall pick in the third round, coincidentally the exact pick used to select Booker five years prior.

Berrian’s impact in the passing game was minimal his first two years, but an argument can easily be made that his lack of production was directly tied to the signal callers under center during that time.  In 2004 it was the unholy trinity of Chicago quarterbacks (Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel and Jonathan Quinn) who took most of the snaps, while in 2005 it was the Kyle Orton show.  Orton was more serviceable than the three in 2004 but wasn’t much of a downfield thrower, so Berrian’s speed remained under utilized.

Berrian burst onto the scene as a deadly deep threat in 2006 once Grossman remained healthy and started lobbing bombs in his direction.  After accounting for a paltry 471 yards and two touchdowns on 28 receptions in his first two seasons with the team, Berrian went for 51/775/6 in ’06 and helped power one of the more potent offenses in team history (statistically speaking).  In 2007 he eclipsed those numbers with a 75/951/5 year, but signed with the Vikings as a free agent in the subsequent offseason.

Muhsin Muhammad, WR3

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Muhsin “Moose” Muhammad joined the Bears as a free agent in 2005 after spending the first nine years of his career with Carolina, the last of which was his most productive.  Coming off of a monstrous 2004 campaign with the Panthers where Moose hauled in 93 passes for 1,405 yards and 16 touchdowns, the Bears quickly signed him to a six-year deal less than a day after a $10 million roster bonus proved a sticking point in his negotiations with Carolina.

In 2004 the top pass-catcher for the Bears was RB Thomas Jones (56 receptions) followed by wide receivers David Terrell and Bobby Wade with 42 apiece, so the need for a WR upgrade was dire and Moose was brought in with the expectation of providing veteran leadership.  Having Kyle Orton under center for most of 2005, however, was not what Moose had in mind and his frustration built thru the year.  Muhammad’s criticism of the rookie QB during that frigid Atlanta game in ’05 is said to have contributed to the return of Grossman at halftime.

Moose was a guy that I was hot/cold on during his tenure with the Bears.  I dug him at first and I always kind of liked his TD celebration (pictured above), but when things got rough the so-called veteran leader seemed to exhibit some characteristics in contradiction to that label.  His “(Chicago is) where receivers go to die” shot on the way out only made those leadership questions louder.

The Other Guys…

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Is that Earl Bennett?  Nope.  That #80 wasn’t drafted until 2009.  Pictured above is none other than Dez White.

White was a close runner-up to the top three choices with four-year (2000-2003) receiving totals of 155 receptions, 1,754 yards and eight TDs.  Those numbers were nearly replicated by two other players in separate four-year stretches in the decade: David Terrell (2001-2004) and Devin Hester (2006-2009).  Obviously Hester played beyond ’09 with the Bears, but in those four years he tallied 128 receptions with 1,721 yards and eight TDs.  Terrell, meanwhile, had 128 receptions for 1,602 yards and 9 TDs.

Next: All-2000s Tight End