Chicago Bears Position Review: Wide Receivers
Breaking down film from the 2019 season to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of Chicago Bears’ wide receivers.
The start of the 2019 season was a rough one for Bears’ wide receivers. No one could get open, there were drops all over the field, and Allen Robinson was the only wideout stepping up. In 2018, this team was one of the best in the league at limiting drops, but 2019 was a different story.
Hope was abundant heading into last season. Sadly, most of those expectations fell flat. The only thoroughly encouraging development from the receiver corps was Allen Robinson establishing himself as a true number one receiver and racking up over 1,000 yards. Near the end of the season, there were a few additional positives to take away after a lackluster beginning to the campaign. Anthony Miller‘s growth was a welcome sight, but he needs to continue to stay healthy to be a consistent contributor. If he puts in the work in the offseason, he could be one of the most promising players heading into 2020. The biggest letdown in 2019 was Taylor Gabriel, but that was mainly due to his inability to stay on the field. A big question does linger, however: will he still be with this team in 2020?
With that being said, it’s time to break down some film of the Bears wide receivers. Fellow On Tap Sports Net contributor Lucas Perfetti previously analyzed at the running backs and offensive line, so we’ll continue in a similar fashion with the wideouts.
0:00 – This first clip is from the very first game of the season. The Bears are looking to get one of their faster wide receivers out into open space with a quick bubble screen. Taylor Gabriel did all that he could on this play, but the blocking by his teammates, Adam Shaheen and Anthony Miller, limited this play to a minimal gain. This is a scenario in which assignments could be missed more often earlier in the season and worked on going forward, which you can see in the next clip.
0:15 – This clip evidences the work the Bears put into the bubble screen in the weeks following opening night. This time, Anthony Miller gets the ball in space with Cordarrelle Patterson and Riley Ridley blocking. The best type of wide receiver is one who is committed to blocking as well. In this play, you can see that Ridley is happy for helping out his teammate. All parties involved fought until the whistle to make this play result in a trip to the end zone. Unlike the first clip, they committed to who they were assigned to block, planted, and held their ground to create room for their teammate.
0:00 – Here’s a great view of this play that you do not get to see during the games. Anthony Miller does not give up on this play at all. His quarterback is scrambling and trying to keep the play going, and the two eventually connect. Early on in the season, such a scenario seemed to pose more of a challenge for the Bears. This play looked completely dead until Miller hit his defender with a nice little spin move. There is truly no playbook for these scramble scenarios, but it exemplifies the constant drive of a player to get the job done no matter the circumstance.
0:20 – This might be the offensive play of the season. In crunch time against the Broncos, the Bears needed to get into field goal range with nine seconds remaining on the clock. Allen Robinson was able to keep a broken play alive by getting into space and creating a throwing window for his quarterback. The two biggest heads-up moments of the season happened here. After the catch, Robinson went to the ground immediately, allowing Trubisky to call for a timeout right away. The timing and connection in this play were flawless. This serves as an example of why Robinson is a true number one wide receiver.
0:00 – Here, we see an excellent play by Taylor Gabriel. He made his defender commit to the inside portion of the field and then stuck his foot into the ground to hit a comeback route in a soft part of the field. The throw was a little high for him, but he was able to snag it and bring it to the ground before taking a big hit. Looking at the other options on this play, nothing was really open. Overall, it was a nice piece of work by Gabriel and Trubisky.
0:14 – Watching Allen Robison compete in 2019 was a thing of beauty. This play is interesting, as he beats his defender twice. The post route should have led him right into the end zone, but the throw being a little behind him resulted in a turning grab and dragging his defender about five yards into the end zone.
0:00 – This was a more what-if play. Riley Ridley literally juked himself out of his shoe. This is a great play by the rookie, however. Even from his limited reps, you’ll see that his route-running ability is solid. He hits a quick hitch on his defender and makes a nice grab. The only downside to this play happens after he makes a move to shake a defender, as he loses his shoe and can’t do any further damage after he slips.
0:13 – There’s an interesting setup on this play. Cordarrelle Patterson was lined up in a spot that made it seem like he was set up to help block. You can see that he was in a position to pass his defender off on the inside, but the Cowboys brought a lot of pressure on this play. Nagy seemed to know what was coming and had Patterson leak out for a quick screen play. Patterson was able to make defenders miss in space, showing off his speed and shiftiness. Now for the negative aspect of this play: what was Allen Robinson doing? It seems like he was just marveling at the work he was watching. Instead, he could have made more of an effort toward throwing out a block that could have sprung this play for a few extra yards.
0:00 – Here, we see another nice route run by Riley Ridley. He was able to get good inside position while heading on an out route, and Trubisky hit him in stride at the first down marker. The Bears are going to have to get Ridley on the field more in 2020. In the limited amount of work from his rookie season, you can see why this team was so high on his ability during the draft.
0:11 – This was a great grab by Allen Robinson. We saw plenty of these types of catches by him during the 2019 season. On this play, Robinson starts on the opposite side of the field and comes back into the frame on a post route that was thrown to a spot where only he could make the play. Seeing that the player defending him at the end was a linebacker makes this an ideal play design by Matt Nagy. There was backside help from a safety, but he wasn’t around the play in time.
0:24 – Javon Wims runs a solid in route during this clip. He is able to get a step on his defender with a quick move to the inside that nearly got disrupted by a linebacker. As soon as Wims passes by another linebacker who is in a zone watching over, his defender has a hand on his jersey area. Wims continues through with the play and is able to make a strong-handed play with his defender closing in on him.
That does it for the Bears 2019 wide receiver film breakdown. Stay tuned to On Tap Sports Net for further positional analyses as they roll in.