An offense that already consists of Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte with Jay Cutler at the helm was set up to be absolutely explosive yet again in 2014. Despite this, the Chicago Bears have given former Pittsburgh Steeler and New York Jet Santonio Holmes an opportunity to come in and improve the wide-receiving corps even more.
Following the injury to Marquess Wilson, the depth at wideout was looking thin with the only reliable third target being Josh Morgan. However, the move made this morning may have presented the Bears with a chance to have hands down the most dynamic receiving corps in the NFL. That is, if Holmes understands his place on the team.
For a while in Pittsburgh, Holmes was considered the guy, the No. 1. Then with the Jets, he was again the top man at receiver. But now he’s on a team with two players who fit that description and are undoubtedly much more talented than him. If he understands he’s the third (or even fourth depending on how quickly he picks up the offense) option at WR, then he can flourish once more. After all, Holmes only has 43 catches and two touchdowns in the past two seasons due to injuries and, well, playing for New York.
What this really does for the Bears, potentially, is offer them the ability to spread the field five-wide on occasion with five actual threats at wideout — once Wilson returns from injury, of course. A group of Marshall, Jeffery, Holmes, Morgan and Wilson could be deadly.
It also provides security on the outside for Chicago in case of an injury to Marshall or Jeffery. Holmes has starting experience on the outside and it wouldn’t be out of his comfort zone to line up out there for a few games if need-be, which would then allow Morgan or Wilson to continue playing in the slot where they’re more comfortable.
As for his ability to understand his role, I don’t think it’ll be much of an issue. Holmes must be well aware that there’s been a lack of interest in him as he hasn’t been signed by a team until mid-August, and he should know that he hasn’t been the most productive receiver in recent years. My guess is that he understands the type of opportunity he’s being offered to play in such a great offense, and if he truly does, the Bears will have made a fantastic signing that will only help them this year.
The most interesting aspect to watch is how quickly he picks up the system and if he can develop a rapport with Cutler. Because of these two aspects, I’d lower the expectations on him for the first month or so he’s with the team. After the first couple weeks of the regular season, I think we’ll begin to see the true impact of this signing.