With the NFL lockout on the verge of coming to a close and free agency on the horizon, the debate rages on about whether former New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress fits the timing-based system of Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
We addressed the issue in last week’s mailbag, while also pointing out a potentially better option for the Bears in Washington Redskins receiver Santana Moss (Bears receiver Devin Hester told the Chicago Tribune recently that he'd like the team to sign Moss), who will likely re-sign with his team.
My opinion is one thing. But to really dig into this, we enlisted the help of a former NFL scout, who also played receiver in the NFL and has spent some time studying Moss and Burress, to give us a break down on how they may or may not fit in Martz’s offense.
Here’s what he had to say.
On Moss: “Dynamic receiver with good speed and quickness. Although he is up in age, he’s still a legitimate vertical threat with the burst to blow the top off coverage. He has a knack for producing explosive plays (plays of 20-plus yards) due to his speed and quickness. Moss is also a polished route runner with the ability to separate on short- and intermediate routes. He is at his best when used on "in-breaking" routes such as digs or crossers because he is able to run away from coverage."
On why Moss fits: “Moss is a route runner with the speed and quickness Martz prefers. His game is ideally suited to run the precise timing routes of the system, and his run-after-catch skills will result in big plays for the Bears. When you look at the success Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce enjoyed in that system, it’s easy to predict big numbers for Moss as a player for Martz.”
On Burress: “Big, physical receiver with excellent ball skills. He’s at his best with ball in the air. Burress utilizes his superior size and athleticism to "post up" smaller defenders. His exceptional length gives the quarterback a bigger target to pinpoint. He runs well for his size, but is not a considered a burner. He lacks the burst to outrun defenders on vertical routes. His big plays are often the result of jump balls down the field or smaller throws converted into big gains after he’s broken tackles in the open field. As a route runner, he is not fluid or polished in and out of his breaks due to his size. He relies on size and strength to gain separation rather than his quickness. Given his two-year absence from the game, it is very likely that he will struggle getting free from coverage.”
On why Burress doesn’t fit: “Martz has never featured a big receiver in his system because he has a preference for route runners. Most big receivers aren't able to get in and out of their breaks quickly, and that can throw off the timing of the passing game. While Burress would give the Bears a big, red zone target, he would struggle with some of the timing routes of the system. He’d seem like a misfit in that offense.”