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Bears lack go-to guy at wide receiver
Tom Thayer | Columnist

Chicago wide receiver Brandon Lloyd makes a juggling, diving grab to help set up the tying field goal during Thursday's game at Soldier Field in Chicago.


Rick West | Staff Photographer

The Bears started to develop some much-needed consistency at the wide receiver position early in the season with Brandon Lloyd, but after he was injured, no No. 1 threat emerged.


Ed Lee | Staff Photographer

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Published: 12/28/2008 12:04 AM

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Q. Why can't the Bears throw the ball effectively lately, especially to the wide receivers?

A. They don't have a go-to guy. They don't have a guy who's guaranteed every week to be the guy they're going to be able to get the ball to, and who opposing defensive coordinators are going to have to prepare for.

There has been no consistency at the position. It started to develop early in the season with Brandon Lloyd, but then he was injured. They had to go through the list of characters. Marty Booker is getting older, Rashied Davis is a good player, but he's still not a go-to guy, and then they've got the development of Devin Hester.

On offense, if you don't have the opportunity to do it repetitiously, it's going to be hard to develop that one key wide receiver. Teams that have that that one prolific wide receiver, he's a big guy, an imposing figure, a guy who stands out, with the exception of Steve Smith.

Q. How does that lack of talent at wide receiver need to be addressed in the off-season? Through free agency or the draft?

A. They have to evaluate the free agents who are out there, and if you think someone is worth the money, that's the quickest fix route. It has to be a guy who's already established, and once you get a guy identified and you plop $60 million in his lap, is he going to be the same guy after he gets the money as he was while he was trying to earn the money? Otherwise, you're going to have to evaluate the draftable pool of talent to see where those guys are.

With a rookie, you're probably going to have to play a waiting game because, with the exception of Randy Moss and a very few others, rookies rarely have huge seasons at wide receiver.

Q. How much has Matt Forte meant to the Bears' offense?

A. To me, he's the MVP, when you look at what he's been able to do for the offensive line, for the running back position and to help the quarterback position develop. He's a three-down back. He's not a guy you can only use part time. When you put the game plan in, he's a 100-percent-of-the-time contributor.

Forte has shown qualities that might not have been expected, and he's earned the respect of every person in the locker room because of his work ethic and his contributions.

Q. Who has been the Bears' defensive MVP this season?

A. Lance Briggs, just by the way he plays and the way he finishes plays. With all the contract controversy that surrounded him in the last year or so, he's been able to put that in the rear-view mirror and set his sights on playing quality football, and that's exactly what he's done. Briggs would be No. 1, and Alex Brown would be 1A. They're the two biggest defensive contributors to the team.

Q. Who's the greater concern to the Bears' defense, wide receiver Andre Johnson or running back Steve Slaton?

A. To me, it would be Andre Johnson. Wide receivers are very demanding. Johnson is going to conclude his season on Sunday, so he'll want the ball thrown to him as much as possible. A rookie running back is thankful for his touches. A veteran wide receiver demands touches, and the best way to stop Johnson is to get after the quarterback.

Q. If the Bears win out to finish 10-6 but don't make the playoffs, would the season be a success?

A. Yes, because you and everybody else never expected the Bears to finish 10-6.

Q. Begging your pardon, but I had them at 9-7 ... or maybe it was 8-8.

A. OK, anyway, you didn't have them at 10-6. There's not one guy who covers this team on a daily basis that ever predicted a record of 10-6 in the preseason. A lot of guys had 6-10 and 5-11 and all these other crappy records.

Look at the preseason, and the efforts these guys gave, there was even more negative scrutiny. The sad thing is they should be 11-4 going into today's game, if they held on in a couple of those early games where they failed to hold fourth-quarter leads.

• Tom Thayer answers key questions from Daily Herald Sports Writer Bob LeGere before most Bears games. Thayer's analysis can also be heard during each Bears broadcast on WBBM 780-AM.