It might not be as obvious as Chicago’s gaping hole of an offensive line, but heading into the offseason, there was a major need for the Bears to upgrade at wide receiver.
Enter a pair of former Dallas Cowboys: Roy Williams and Sam Hurd. While Hurd will likely serve as a replacement for Rashied Davis as primarily a special teams guy, the signing of Williams is an intriguing one for the Bears, at the very least.
There’s no question that Williams’ tenure in Dallas was an awful one. The Cowboys gave up a lot to acquire the former top five pick and bring him to his home state of Texas, with little to show for it. What they got as a guy who caught just 75 passes for barely over 1,000 yards in two full seasons in Dallas.
Originally drafted by the Lions, Williams had the best season of his career in 2006. The former Texas Longhorn caught 82 balls for 1,310 yards and seven scores. Mike Martz was his offensive coordinator that season in Detroit, making Williams’ signing with the Bears a bit less of a surprise.
While the signing would have been more exciting back closer to ’06, there’s still a way Williams’ presence can have a positive impact with the Bears. At this point in his career, Williams is not a no. 1 receiver, if he ever was. But on a team like the Bears, which lack receiving depth, he likely will be utilized as one. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since his 6’3″ frame creates a big target for Jay Cutler.
But the way Williams can be an even bigger asset to the Bears will come when he doesn’t even have the ball. For the last few years, Bears’ brass has been living under the delusion that Devin Hester is a no. 1 receiver. He’s not. He doesn’t have the ability to run sharp routes and lining him up as a no. 1 guy on the outside detracts from his actual skill set.
However, Hester’s speed an elusiveness make him one of the most dangerous playmakers in the game, something we’ve obviously seen from his Hall of Fame-type contributions on special teams.
With that in mind, the addition of Williams allows Hester to move to a full time role in the slot. With Williams and either Johnny Knox or Earl Bennett on the other side, the Bears have the ability to stretch the field and open things up for Devin Hester.
By putting Hester in the slot, he can use his speed and ability to cut to make plays off of the short quick passes from Cutler. Think of him being used in a fashion similar to Wes Welker in New England.
Such a move also benefits Cutler, in that it allows him more of those quick passes, which he actually had success on last year. If Jerry Angelo continues to neglect the offensive line, quick passes will be the much safer route for Cutler, rather than letting him risk his life in long five or seven step drops behind a poor offensive line.
In the grand scheme of things, Roy Williams may have been the best fit for the Bears, as far as receivers go. His skill level might not be in the top tier, but he came with the least amount of baggage of the bigger name pass catchers available, and could serve a purpose even if it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.
Even though he’s under Martz again, it’s unlikely he’ll light up the stat sheet by any means. But on a Bears team that has tried so hard to make Devin Hester a weapon in the passing game, the addition of Williams could finally up things up for the Bears to do so.