UPDATE: Titus Young was claimed off waivers by the St. Louis Rams on Tuesday.
The 2012 Chicago Bears’ offense had an abundance of problems; no complimentary WR to help Brandon Marshall, non-existent TEs, and pass-protection problems that have been an issue since Jay Cutler arrived in Chicago. One that certainly didn’t go under the radar was the lack of a deep threat on the outside.
The Bears certainly missed Johnny Knox during the 2012 campaign. As great as Brandon Marshall was, he doesn’t threaten opposing secondaries with his speed. Alshon Jeffery has a ton of potential, but he will likely develop into a possession WR. Earl Bennett is in the slot for a reason and has declined over the past couple seasons. Devin Hester has the speed to threaten safeties downfield, but struggles with locating the ball and has said he doesn’t want to play offense should he return to Chicago.
The Bears have a good potential one-two punch with Marshall and Jeffery, and I still believe Bennett can be a solid option in the slot, but they are missing a speedster. With news that the Detroit Lions released former second-round pick Titus Young, should General Manager Phil Emery and Head Coach Marc Trestman take a chance on the trouble but talented receiver?
The positive with adding Young is if the new coaching staff can get through to him and make him buy into their system, you have a very talented trio at WR when you pair him with Marshall and Jeffery. Young can take the top off a defense with his speed, and he has the physical and athletic ability to go up and fight for the football despite his size.
During his time in Oakland, Trestman had success with a talented yet trouble WR in Jerry Porter. Porter served as the speed compliment to Jerry Rice and Troy Brown in Trestman’s west coast offense and put up big numbers. Young, although a different body type at WR, is just as talented as Porter and is capable of making big plays on the field with his speed.
The negative with Young is that he still has a lot of growing up to do. His NFL rap sheet is long; from violence (sucker punching teammate Louis Delmas) to simple defiance (intentionally lining up in the wrong position), Young came out of Boise State with character concerns, and so far in his short career he’s proven the skeptics right.
The Bears’ locker room is already fragile as it is with a majority of the players still shaken up over the firing of Lovie Smith, so bringing in a head case like Young could be a pretty big risk even if it’s a one-year deal.
The verdict: If this was under Lovie Smith’s watch, I would say it is worth the risk, but Marc Trestman and this new coaching staff is a complete unknown. As much criticism as Lovie gets, players loved to play for him because he was a player’s coach. We have no clue how Trestman would deal with a guy that thought he should be getting as many touches as Calvin Johnson.
As good of a talent Young is, the Bears might be better off scouring through free agency or finding someone in the Draft to fill that deep-threat role.
Young is subject to the waiver-wire process, so we'll see if any teams put in a claim or let him hit the open market.