The debates are going to rage about the Chicago Bears and their decision to sign Santonio Holmes. Here are some pros and cons to ponder.
Pro: Skills are built to thrive in the slot
Looking at the makeup of Holmes as a receiver, at his best he is short but shifty, able to use a combination of quickness, speed and good route running to get himself open. This makes him sort of the ideal slot receiver since he would be matched up primarily with nickel corners, safeties and linebackers from that position. Add in the fact he has very good body control and the hands to make big moment catches, he brings an additional threat in the red zone (averaged at least five touchdowns per year from 2007 to 2011).
Con: Age and injury history
The problem is the production and big plays he was known for, the plays that made him a Super Bowl MVP have been few and far between the past two seasons. A big part of that problem is a nagging injury to the Lisfranc in his foot that took a long time to heal, missing a total of 16 games in two seasons. When he finally did return he lacked the burst that made him so dangerous in years past, leading to the New York Jets cutting him. That and the fact he is 30-years old and on the back nine of his career.
Pro: Presence of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery
Holmes had his best season in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Steelers when he posted 1, 248 yards and five touchdowns. An important key to that success was the presence of other options around him like Hines Ward, Heath Miller and Mike Wallace. Their ability to draw away defenders allowed Holmes to run free, gashing defenses almost at will. He should expect to see similar, if not better chances in Chicago. He will be playing with Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, not to mention tight end Martellus Bennett. It is an offense built to throw the football, and Holmes won’t have to carry the burden of being the go-to guy like he did in New York.
Con: Locker room effect
This is perhaps the key factor that scares Chicago Bears fans the most. One thing that is going to make or break their team in 2014 is a cohesive locker room, and it seems things are all quiet thanks to the collective leadership of Marshall, Jay Cutler and head coach Marc Trestman. One of the biggest stigmas that has followed Holmes for years is the perception that he’s a cancer to team chemistry. Back in 2011, a Jets player said, “it’s like dealing with a 10-year old.” He loses interest when he doesn’t get his way, and it bleeds into his effort on the field. That is not the kind of player any team wants around. Is Holmes that same guy after three years?
The Chicago Bears are about to find out.
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