Muhsin Muhammad said famously that Chicago was where wide receivers go to die.
Tribune Bears beat monster Brad Biggs brought up that line in this piece about Roy Williams, who is the first Bears receiver to be presented as a No. 1 guy since Muhammad. Bears coach Lovie Smith, of course, will say he always has five No. 1 receivers, but everybody knows it’s a crock, and you just smile at Smith and shake your head in agreement the way you do when Grandpa says he took Iwo Jima single-handedly.
I had forgotten about that guy and that guy’s quote till Biggsy brought it up, and then I thought about the Muhammad-Williams comparisons.
Neither has a volume control, for one thing. They’re loquacious, available, a smiling confrontational way at times. How is that the guys furthest from the ball have the biggest mouths and loudest acts?
But what really matters is catching the ball, and if there’s another comparison between Muhammad and Williams, it’s that Chicago is where loud, self-satisfied receivers go to drop the ball.
Muhammad was a terror when it came to drops. By the end, his only use seemed to be babysitting Devin Hester at the line of scrimmage. Williams comes here with a big reputation of big drops.
Mike Martz talks as if Williams is the guy from five years ago. Martz is delirious, of course. Certainly, he’s lacking credibility the way he talks about a lot of Bears personnel, such as how great Greg Olsen and all of last year’s receivers were, and now he can’t wait to buck one of them down for a pet coming off a horrible year -- several horrible years, actually. Next, I expect Martz to tell us he took Iwo Jima single-handedly.
Williams, like any loud, egotistical wideout, said Wednesday he didn’t drop a pass against the Giants. Did too, Bears wide receivers coach Darryl Drake said, talking about Williams’ first chance, a third-and-10 pass that should’ve gone for 16 but instead went to the turf because the Bears’ alleged No. 1 receiver wasn’t better than a smaller cornerback.
It could be that Williams doesn’t get it. Sounds like it, anyway. That’s a problem. How can a guy get better if he doesn’t know why he’s not better?
Drake certainly let Williams know publicly how to get better. He nailed Williams for that drop, he called him out for not being in shape, and he threatened a demotion if things don’t change.
What part of “catch or sit’’ don’t you understand, Roy?
Williams deals with hard questions and issues by way of sarcasm and says a lot of people don’t understand his brand of it. Maybe, maybe not. Could also be that a lot of people don’t understand why a guy who isn’t in shape was given a job by the same offensive coordinator who said players have to “earn’’ such things in the NFL.
"Whether I'm catching the ball or not, we can run the football,’’ Williams said, even though there’s no evidence that the starting running game is any better than the starting passing game that Williams has yet to join. “We're a great screen team and we're a great passing team. So I don't want the focus on me."
Funny how he doesn’t want to be the focus when he looks like a guy who can’t play like a starter.
A lot of people will call this criticism premature and say it’s just the exhibition season, and blah, blah blah. Williams’ position coach didn’t sound like that, is all I can say.
A lot of people, mainly the Bears, will try to spin this potential disaster into a well-executed plan to motivate speedy Johnny Knox, who lost his job to Williams because of Martz’s hypocritical ways. In fact, Martz is one of many Bears coaches already lauding Knox for learning so much in the short time he has been a second-stringer, which might be true, but only the dopes will buy the idea that the Bears spent a million bucks or so for a guy to push Knox.
But you know what? Williams can change all this negativity and doubt just by catching the ball, specifically on third down and in the red zone. All of this edginess and anger goes away if he does what he’s expected to do, what he did for one season under Martz, what he hasn’t done since then. That, see, is why the Curse-O-Meter goes to 11 so quickly with this guy. He has been a mess for three years, underacheiving and overmodulating.
He has the sound of the diva wideout down. Man, he has nailed that loud and empty part of the act. The receiver part, through, putting the “recevier’’ in “big receiver’’ is all he has to do to make the other stuff tolerable.
Otherwise, the comparisons to the oral noise of Muhammad will cease. The comparisons to the ear-splitting boos of Adam Dunn will begin.
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