The 2018 off-season transformed the entire Chicago Bears team. Of all position groups, the wide receiver room may have gotten the biggest revamp. It went from Markus Wheaton, Cameron Meredith, and Kendall Wright to Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Anthony Miller in a few short months. The new additions proved to have a sort of synergy. The players knew their role, and each brought something unique to the field. Heading into their second year together as a squad, hopes were high that their chemistry would progress.
The 2019 season brought a number of issues, some of which detailed the unforeseen flaws of the teams receiving corps. Anthony Miller had taken a step forward in some areas while taking two steps back in others. This past February, Taylor Gabriel was released as a cap causality. The only good thing we saw is that Allen Robinson emerged as a true number one wide receiver. Question marks began to surface. As fans looked to the front office for answers, Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace provided his solution. With every answer, more questions arise. Let’s take a dive into the depth charts and see if Pace played his cards right.
WR1 – Allen Robinson – The Sure Thing
The one thing that can make Bears fans sleep easy at night is knowing Allen Robinson is still on the team. After posting over 1,100 yards and 7 TD’s in a bottom-five offense last season, there is no reason not to feel confident in him. Robinson provided a safety blanket for Mitchell Trubisky in 2019. While having confidence in your WR1 isn’t a bad thing, having him always be your quarterbacks first and oftentimes the only option, is. The veteran wide receiver was the only consistent thing in our poor offense last season. Can you imagine how abysmal it would’ve been without him? There is only one question surrounding Robinson, when will he get his extension?
WR2 – Anthony Miller – The Curious Case
The teams 2018 second round draft pick led the team in touchdown catches his rookie year. His 423 yards that season didn’t do him justice as he was Mitchell Trubisky’s favorite target to overthrow. Everyone was expecting a big year two from Anthony Miller. As the Chicago Bears aspirations began to fall short in 2019, Miller, unfortunately, followed suit. He certainly continued to show some flashes. What’s uncertain is if this was just a classic sophomore slump. So, what exactly was the issue with Ant in 2019?
It’s easy to make a scapegoat of Mitchell Trubisky and blame everything on him. While there is some truth to the issue of quarterback play, Miller had some problems of his own. He seemingly didn’t have a full grasp of the offense. Throughout the season, reports surfaced that he would run incorrect routes at times. Plays, where it looked like Trubisky, made a boneheaded throw were sometimes due to Miller being in the wrong spot. When a quarterback makes an anticipation throw, it’s extremely important to be on the same page as your receiver. Whether this is an issue of not studying the playbook enough or just simply being too much to memorize for Anthony is uncertain. This twitter thread shows how Anthony Miller doesn’t fully understand the offense. Self-inflicted damage ends up causing a sack.
WR2 is extremely important. These past playoffs, we saw the 13-3 Saints exit the postseason in the first round and their biggest hole was WR2. If Miller gets his head on right, we’ll be set here as he has all the physical tools he needs.
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WR3 – Ted Ginn Jr. & Darnell Mooney – The Apprenticeship
The release of Taylor Gabriel brought the need for a speedy receiver to stretch the defense. Gabriel missing about half of last season made an already impotent offense lack another element. In 2018 he proved his worth to this offense, catching a number of deep balls as Trubisky’s favorite deep threat. Darnell Mooney was a player I thought the Bears should pick in my mock draft. With a similar frame to Gabriel, while being four inches taller, Mooney also possesses enough speed to replicate Gabriel’s role in the offense. The team then signed Ted Ginn Jr. to a one-year contract, which brings the perfect veteran depth the team needs. The 35-year-old still has wheels, and I’m expecting him to be the teams’ deep threat in 2020 while Mooney watches and learns from the sideline to take over in 2021.
WR4/5 – Javon Wims & Riley Ridley – The Depth
I don’t think either of these two has a true, unique role in the offense. Not to say that they’re bad players, but everything they do good Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller do better. They’ve both spent previous seasons with limited playing time, stepping in when someone is either hurt or needs a breather. Every team needs depth. If Robinson unfortunately gets hurt, we at least still have a big-bodied wide receiver who’s efficient in catching jump balls in Wims. If Miller gets hurt, Ridley can play in the slot and runs good routes. He may not be as shifty as Miller, but I think he could get the job done. To me, these are the two depth pieces of the two most important receivers.
WR6 – Cordarrelle Patterson – The Gadget
It’s unfair to label Cordarrelle Patterson as just a wide receiver. He makes his biggest impact on special teams but also has his fair share of plays on offense. He only held the rock 28 times in 2019, and good things happened when he did. For the upcoming 2020 season, I think it’s crucial to get the ball in his hands more often. He may be the single biggest home run threat on the Chicago Bears. This forces the defense to pay attention to him when he’s on the field. I’d like to see him get at least twice as many touches next year.
Is this receiver room ready to compete In 2020?
Familiarity is key. Five of the seven players in this group are heading into 2020 having previously played together. Anthony Miller needs to familiarize himself with the playbook. Over 65% of Miller’s yards and 100% of his touchdowns came in a five-game stretch at the back end of the 2019 season. If this carries over into 2020, the team will find success through the air. Ted Ginn doesn’t need to do anything remarkable, as long as he’s stretching the field and catching the occasional deep ball. Our depth is very good, as we have multiple players at each receiving role. As long as minor progressions are made we will have an abundance of weapons for whoever’s at quarterback.