Bears at the Bye: Where would Chicago's offense be without A-Rob?

Bryan Perez
NBC Sports Chicago

Where would the Chicago Bears offense be this season without wide receiver Allen Robinson? Now five weeks into the 2019 schedule, A-Rob has been the beginning, middle and end of the team's passing game and has provided Matt Nagy with at least one reliable skill player who's proving, game after game, that he can be trusted in big moments.

Robinson was signed by the Bears in 2018 to a risky three-year, $42 million contract. He was coming off of a torn ACL the season before and recovery from knee injuries as serious as that is never guaranteed. Robinson's first season in Chicago was what you'd expect from a player regaining trust in his reconstructed knee. He finished with just 55 catches for 754 yards and four touchdowns. There were moments when he looked like the 1,400-yard, 14-touchdown playmaker that he was with the Jaguars in 2015, but they were few and far between. 

That hasn't been the case in 2019.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

Robinson leads the Bears with 31 catches for 377 yards and two scores, stats that put him on pace for 1,206 yards. It would be the second-most yards he's tallied in any season of his career. He's the Bears' highest-graded player on offense with an 82.1 from Pro Football Focus, which is really close to PFF's grade from his monster 2015 season (84.0).

Robinson's isn't just gobbling garbage stats either. His 25-yard fourth-quarter catch against the Broncos set up Eddy Pineiro's game-winner as time expired in Week 2, and his two touchdowns against the Raiders in Week 5 fueled what would've been a sensational come-from-behind victory had the Bears played penalty-free football.

Simply put, A-Rob has been Chicago's offensive MVP and is earning every penny of his big-money contract. Unfortunately, he isn't getting much help from his position mates.

Anthony Miller, who was pegged as a potential breakout player in 2019, has been anything but. In fact, he may be the team's biggest disappointment on offense through five games. He has just eight catches for 80 yards on the year. Half of his receptions and 52 of those 80 yards came in Week 5 when he finally flashed his will to make plays against the Raiders.

The problem, however, is that the same will and desire to outjump the defensive back for a ridiculous high-point reception can also spill over to his emotions and lead to costly penalties, as it did after a Robinson touchdown in London. Costly mistakes like that have prevented Miller from making the kind of impact expected from the former second-round pick of the 2018 NFL draft.

Fortunately for the Bears, that same draft class produced one of this season's pleasant surprises: Javon Wims

Wims, who was drafted five rounds after Miller, is playing more like a second-round selection instead of the seventh-rounder that he was. He's registered 173 snaps so far this year, compared to 163 for Miller, and while he hasn't had a breakout game yet statistically, he gives the Bears another big body to threaten opposing defenses. He's running good routes and possesses the kind of physical traits that could make him a more appealing long-term option opposite A-Rob moving forward.

The other veteran of the group, Taylor Gabriel, made a huge splash in Week 3's victory over the Redskins on Monday Night Football, but a concussion that knocked him out of that game has kept him sidelined since. He had six catches for 75 yards and three touchdowns that night and gave the passing attack a much-needed spark when it was the target of so much criticism. His healthy return after the bye will be critically important for quarterback Mitch Trubisky and the rest of this team's passing attack. Chicago needs another experienced veteran to complement Robinson on the outside; Gabriel is the only viable option on the roster to be that guy.

Free-agent signee Cordarrelle Patterson has been pretty much what Bears fans expected when he was signed to a two-year, $10 million contract in the offseason. He isn't making an impact as a receiver and is instead being used more as a gadget running back and return man. He's made a few splash plays so far this year, including a season-long 46-yard run in Week 2 against the Broncos. But let's be honest: he has just three catches for 12 yards and Chicago needs more from Patterson as an outside target.

Let's ask this again: Where would this passing attack be without Robinson? His 31 catches are more than the Bears' other four primary wide receivers combined. There's a legitimate argument to be made that Robinson is the second-most important player on this team aside from Khalil Mack. If he's out of the lineup, Chicago's offense will score even less points than it already is. And in case you haven't been paying attention, the Bears' 87 points scored in 2019 ranks 28th overall.

WR grade at the bye: C+

Bears at the Bye: Where would Chicago's offense be without A-Rob? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

What to Read Next