Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith had an interesting response when asked this week about the production of his wide receivers, who have combined for a whopping nine catches in the Bears' back-to-back losses against the Titans and Packers:
"Other teams covered us," Smith said. "It's kind of as simple as that. We haven't been able to get them the ball. If you look at our receiver play throughout, it's been pretty good. You go through spells where you are not as productive as you would like. But in the big picture we have gotten a lot of production from our receivers."
Smith always defends his players when they're criticized in the media, but for him to say the Bears have gotten "a lot of production" from the wide receivers is just wrong.
Take a look at the advanced stats at Football Outsiders, which give the value of every wide receiver in the league on plays when they were thrown the ball, compared to how a typical receiver would fare in the same circumstances.
Of the 79 receivers who have been thrown at least three passes a game this year, Bears receiver Devin Hester ranks 52nd in the league in his total production, Rashied Davis ranks 54th and Marty Booker ranks 79th, or dead last. That's not "a lot of production."
Most stunning of all is Booker, whose catch rate is a shocking 24% -- yes, Booker has caught less than one-fourth of the passes thrown to him this season. At age 32, you have to wonder why Booker is still in the league at all anymore, let alone starting for the Bears.
The good news is that the Bears do have one receiver who's been fairly good in a limited role: Brandon Lloyd, who has caught a team-high 63% of the passes thrown his way this year. Lloyd started the first four games of the season before getting hurt, and now he's finally healthy again. If Kyle Orton can get Lloyd the ball regularly, the Bears might really get "a lot of production" from their receivers.
Lovie Smith Says Chicago Bears' Receivers Are 'Pretty Good,' Stats Say Otherwise originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Thu, 20 Nov 2008 08:55:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.