The Chicago Bears held their first practice that was open to the public this past weekend as the crowds packed the Bourbonnais stands. One difference that stands out from last season’s team to this year’s team is the change at the wide receiver position. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky struggled in his rookie season at times due to the lack of talent at wide receiver, that should change this year.
General manager Ryan Pace’s biggest offseason acquisition was the free agency signing of wide receiver Allen Robinson. Robinson was one of the most-sought-after free agent at the position and provides the Bears a type of wide receiver they haven’t had seen the departure of Alshon Jeffery.
Robinson, like Jeffery, is a big-bodied number one wide receiver that can win contested throws. He also has a large catch radius due to his 6-foot-3 , 211-pound frame. This is huge for Trubisky as it opens up certain passing plays that weren’t successful last year. Against Philadelphia last season, those failed passes were on display as several times as the receivers were unable to connect on the big throws.
The first pass came with the Bears offense backed up near their own end-zone at their own one-yard line. Trubisky attempted a deep fade pass up the left sideline throwing out of his own end-zone to wide receiver Dontrelle Inman. Inman was covered, but Trubisky had thrown the ball to Inman’s back shoulder in which Inman wasn’t able to make the adjustment to haul the pass in at the Bears’ 38 yard-line. The pass would have been a 37-yard completion and converted a 2nd and 17.
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In the fourth quarter, Trubisky threw deep again from his own 38 yard-line towards Tre McBride up the right sideline who dropped the pass at the Eagles 23-yard line. Again, the throw was contested as it was a 50/50 jump ball, but this time the ball hit McBride in the hands. The pass would have been a 39-yard gain had it been caught. The defender had his back towards the ball while McBride’s body was facing the ball.
Those two passes alone would have added 76 yards to Trubisky’s stat line and possibly lead to scores for the offense. Instead of finishing with 147 yards, he would have finished with at least 223 passing yards if not more. On film, it would have provided “wow” throws in which opposing defenses would have had to game plan for the possibility of Trubisky being able to go deep.
Robinson is a wide receiver that can make those catches for his quarterback. His larger catching radius makes it easier for Trubisky as Trubisky doesn’t need to be precise with every pass as Robinson is able to adjust and win those battles. That is what the Bears offense last season missed the most and why their rookie quarterback was inconsistent in making the deep pass plays.
A wide receiver like Robinson is what helps separate the quality offenses in the NFL from the inferior ones. Offenses are more successful when there are wide receivers that are able to catch that are not always right in their hands. The Bears now have that receiver who can provide an added dimension of size and ability to win contested throws and the payoff could be exciting to watch.