The Chicago Bears have decided that rather than go out and look for big named guys like Nnamdi Asomugha, they would look for players who fit their system, can come in for cheap, and produce at a high level.
In doing this, they are risking very little while having a lot of potential upside.
The first player that fits this bill is former Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams. He has virtually disappeared from the spotlight ever since the Lions drafted Calvin Johnson.
The pick up immediately upgrades the Bears’ wide receiver core, but just how much depends on who you ask. The signing has received mixed reactions from experts.
Some feel that he is nothing more than a bust who is going to continue his mediocre career in Chicago, while others feel that he is in the perfect situation to thrive.
But what is different about Chicago than his previous homes?
The first thing that is going to help Williams is his quarterback. Jay Cutler has had issues with the Bears and hasn’t produced like he did in Denver. But some of that could be contributed to the fact that he doesn’t have a big receiver that he can throw the ball up to if he is in trouble.
At 6’3 and 215 lbs, Williams is that receiver who can go up and make a tough catch over a corner. He is also going to be able to run inside the holes created by Johnny Knox, who requires defensive backs to pay attention to him.
The final thing that is going to give Williams an edge in Chicago is Mike Martz. He was the offensive coordinator for Williams when he had his two most successful seasons in the NFL, which included a 1,310 yards, seven touchdowns in 2006.
Williams already has time under this system and will be able to come in and contribute immediately, something other free agents are going to have a tougher time doing because of the lockout.
Another player who the Bears are hoping will resurrect his career in Chicago is former sixth-overall pick Vernon Gholsten.
Gholsten has yet to record a sack in three years with the New York Jets and is garnering attention as possibly the biggest bust defensive lineman ever, but Chicago is banking on his issues not being with skill and more with scheme.
In college, Gholsten was dominant as a defensive end in the 4-3 scheme. But, after being drafted by the Jets, he began a trend of being moved back and forth between defensive end and linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, which doesn’t always translate well to production for a young player.
The Bears have defensive lineman guru Rod Marinelli to teach Gholsten. A switch back to the 4-3 scheme could be the move that Gholsten needed to prove that he isn’t a bust and can actually be effective.
He will have a tough time getting on the field with Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije, and Corey Wootton all beginning training camp ahead of him, but he has every physical tool to become a force in the NFL.
The final player who has received the bust label is defensive tackle Amobi Okoye.
With Tommie Harris officially out of Chicago, the Bears need a new force in the middle. They are likely going to be relying on Matt Toeaina, Henry Melton, and Stephen Paea to hold down there interior defensive line, but they are still without that disruptive force.
Although Paea, a second round pick in the most recent draft, may be able to fill that role, we won’t know until the season actually starts.
Okoye has shown that he can be that guy in the past, but it is uncertain whether he can make the changes to become a force.
In four seasons he has 138 tackles, 11 sacks and two forced fumbles. These aren’t the stats that you expect from a top ten pick to put up, but at just 24-years-old, he has more experience than most in the NFL at his age.
Although all three of these players have been labeled “busts” in the past, they have all the tools to turn their careers around. If one or two of these guys reach their Pro Bowl potential with the Bears, they will be a team that can’t be ignored come playoff time.
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