Enough with Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall!
Bears fans need to stop pretending the offense could still be a juggernaut if not for Ryan Pace.
Excuse me while I vent for a minute. This vent is going to piss plenty of people off, but I don’t care. For me, the best part about writing about my favorite team is the responses we get from our readers. Seeing readers agree with you is nice, but it’s even better when readers think you are wrong. That may seem crazy, but it’s the truth. Seeing an article incite a passionate debate because people don’t see eye-to-eye with your view of the team is fun to watch unfold.
One common theme that constantly seems to resurface during those debates is how Ryan Pace took a juggernaut Chicago Bears offense and flushed it down the toilet. The names that constantly resurface are those of Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett. At times, you’ll see a Matt Forte reference pop up, but for the most part, everything is quiet on that front.
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This argument needs to stop. While I’m the first to admit that the Chicago Bears receivers are hot garbage, keeping this unit together would have been the wrong thing to do. Pace made the right move in this regard and here’s why.
First, let’s start with the convenient fact that the Bears offense truthers never mention Matt Forte anymore because he doesn’t fit their argument. Forte was here for the first year of the Ryan Pace Era but the Bears chose not to re-sign him at the end of the year. The attitude seemed to be, “Good, the Bears don’t deserve him.”
You don’t hear any complaints about the loss of Forte anymore because he had a down year in 2016 and this season Forte is nothing more than a backup in what will almost certainly be his final NFL season. On the flip side, Pace found Jordan Howard in the fifth round and the Bears have one of the best ground attacks in the NFL. If the Bears offense truthers wanted to be consistent, they would have wanted Forte to remain as part of the band, but because that doesn’t fit the narrative, they don’t mention him.
Second, let’s look at Martellus Bennett. That’s the next complaint, how could the Bears drop Bennett? Pretty simple. Let’s not forget where Bennett was with the organization. Bennett wanted a contract extension, something Ryan Pace wasn’t going to give him. Bennett then skipped OTAs and when he showed up at mandatory minicamp he pouted and was a complete distraction.
Bennett’s production dropped in 2015 despite the fact that Jay Cutler had arguably his best season. When Bennett had injuries issues at the end of the season, he didn’t even choose to stay with the team. When Bennett got his wish and was sent to New England, the first thing he did was do an ESPN interview in 2016 where he destroyed the team, including Jay Cutler.
Unless you’ve been in a cave, you’ve seen the disastrous end to Bennett’s short-lived Green Bay Packers career. This is the guy you want in your locker room? Don’t even bother.
Moving onto the wide receivers. Let’s look at Brandon Marshall. Marshall was sent out before team activities even started under Pace’s watch. In 2015, Marshall indeed made the Bears look foolish. He had a fantastic year with the Jets and looked like the Bears made a mistake. But by 2016, Marshall’s production was cut in half and this season, Marshall found himself on a new team where he struggled mightily for a few games before injuries ended his season. If the Bears had chosen to keep Marshall, they would still be on the hook with him this season for $10 million, despite what would have been woeful production.
Alshon Jeffery seems to be the lone member of this group that is still productive. However, keep something in mind, as great of a year that the Philadelphia Eagles are having. Jeffery is good, not great. Jeffery wanted “AJ Green money” to stay with the Bears. That’s a tune of 5-years, $60 million. That’s what you want to pay for a guy that missed 11 games over his final two seasons in Chicago including a PED suspension? Not to mention, Jeffery is on pace for about 60 catches and 900 yards this year. He isn’t exactly tearing up the league, Antonio Brown style.
Let’s summarize, the Bears could have kept their offense together and within two years, this is what they would have: $12 million per year for Jeffery, $10 for Marshall, $7 for Bennett (his per year amount with Green Bay) and $4 million (his per year amount with the Jets) for Forte. Also keep in mind, if you keep this portion of the band together, Jay Cutler would have been kept as well. Cutler would have been at $18 million this season. And if your argument is that they didn’t have to keep Cutler, what alternative did they have because drafting a rookie QB with that group of veterans makes no sense.
The Bears could be spending $51 million for the 2017 season on those players, almost one-third of their salary cap, for a group of which none are producing, except for Jeffery, who is averaging 56 yards per game. This is the offense you want, Bears fans?
Had Ryan Pace kept this rapidly aging offense together, Bears fans would be calling up sports talk radio talking about how he committed money to aging players and everything backfired. No matter what Pace did with this offense, he was doomed. He’s tried to rebuild it, in doing so, he’s left the receiver group problematic for sure, but give it time. Let’s see what Pace does this offseason before we decide that keeping the band together would have been a smart plan.
It would have been a disaster- an epic one. Stop complaining about an offense that could have been, that sadly, if it remained, could be worse than what they currently have.