As the Chicago Bears continue to limp along offensively in 2020, it's no secret that changes need to be made. Why can't one of those changes be in the form of giving Riley Ridley a legitimate chance to play?
Bears' general manager Ryan Pace selected Ridley in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The immediate reaction to the pick was if Riley could be anything like his brother Calvin, who plays for the Atlanta Falcons, Chicago would have a solid receiver on their hands. The Florida-native played in 28 games at the University of Georgia, where he caught 69 passes for just over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was a receiver who caught fewer than six passes in every game he played but one, so the expectations could not have been that a number one receiver was on the way.
Go back to Week 13 of the Bears' 2019 campaign against the Detroit Lions. This was Ridley's NFL debut, but the rookie wasn't targeted at all in the team's narrow victory at Ford Field. The following week, he caught his only target against the Dallas Cowboys for five yards. In Week 15 against Green Bay, his targets, receptions, and yards all doubled. In Week 16's embarrassment at home against Kansas City, Ridley, again, wasn't targeted at all. He finished the season with three catches on four targets for 54 yards against the Minnesota Vikings to make him 6/7 for 69 yards while not finding the end zone. Even during these games, fans were screaming to give him more of a chance in an offense that was similar to what we're seeing here in 2020.
This season, the former Bulldog has yet to see the field as recent draft pick Darnell Mooney has cemented himself into the attack. However, Anthony Miller and new acquisition Ted Ginn Jr. -- who has just three catches for 40 yards -- have been unsettlingly quiet through seven weeks of football.
Additionally, Javon Wims, another Georgia product, has just four catches for 26 yards. So, aside from Allen Robinson, receivers have failed to add chunks to the stat sheet. It's understandable when considering the offense hasn't exactly been clicking on all cylinders. But that could be all the more reason to give it a bit of a different look. Add in the uncertainty surrounding Robinson's status for the Bears' Week 8 matchup, and getting Ridley involved makes even more sense.
Ridley surely won't produce on the sidelines. The franchise used a fourth-round pick on him for a reason. Why not give him a real opportunity to show what he can do at the NFL level? As other supporters of making this happen would say, free Riley Ridley.
Be sure to check out Bears On Tap wherever you find your favorite podcasts and follow them on Twitter. Also, look out for their preview episode ahead of this Sunday's matchup against the New Orleans Saints.