The Chicago Bears have questions with their wide receivers group. If the unit plays well with improved quarterback play, this offense could look very good.
The Chicago Bears‘ wide receivers group has questions. What do they have outside of Allen Robinson? In 2019, Robinson was basically the only consistent target. Bears quarterbacks targeted him at a 27.2 percent clip. The second-most targeted player wasn’t even a wide receiver. It was running back Tarik Cohen who was targeted 18.4 percent of the time. The second-most targeted wide receiver was Anthony Miller with 15 percent.
This season, the team hopes for a better balance of targets. Targeting Robinson so much makes it easier for opposing defenses to make plays. If the Bears offense is more balanced, it spreads the defense and they can’t just zero in on someone.
The new-look receivers unit
Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace made some changes to the wide receivers unit. He let go of Taylor Gabriel, who, aside from the Washington game, did not do much. In that Week 3 matchup, he recorded 14.6 of his targets, 20.7 percent of his catches, 21.2 percent of his yards, and 75 percent of the touchdowns of his season totals. The Bears need more than just one game of production so they showed him the door.
The Bears saw the need to add speed to the wide receivers unit. Pace signed veteran Tedd Ginn Jr., a speedy receiver who is a good deep ball target. He is 35 years old but still was one of the best deep pass catchers in the league last season. They also drafted Darnell Mooney in the 5th round (173rd overall) this year. He ran a 4.38 40-yard run at the NFL Combine so he’ll help Ginn in trying to extend the defense deep.
Riley Ridley was the Bears’ fourth-round pick (126th overall) in last year’s draft. He didn’t play much in his rookie season, however, recording just 6 catches for 69 yards in 5 games. His route-running is good and he has incredible athleticism. He could remind fans of Alshon Jeffery making all those ridiculous acrobatic catches.
Can Miller gain the team’s confidence?
Miller is a talented receiver who showed in flashes that he can be a dependable target. While he led rookie receivers in touchdown receptions in 2018, he hasn’t yet been able to have a complete season, though. He felt that he could come into the NFL and prepare the same way he did in college. However, he found out that wasn’t the case.
Miller’s attitude with preparation and his big ego caused the coaches to not have confidence in him. He’s been too up and down for him to be consistently counted on. He’s just as sure to have a game in which he disappears as he is to be a big part of the offense’s success.
The Bears noticed a different attitude with Miller this offseason. He looks to Robinson as a mentor and works harder at his craft. It appears that the light switch was flipped.
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If Miller is indeed a changed player, it’ll go a long way to strengthening the offense. If he is a dependable second option, then the other receivers don’t have to take huge steps themselves. Even if Robinson receives fewer targets, he’ll be more effective with the targets he does receive. He won’t see all the double teams he did last season and make bigger plays with more space. The other receivers can just add in some of their abilities and then we’ll see a big improvement not only with the wide receivers but also the entire offense.
Now, if the Bears can finally work an extension for Robinson…