Over the past five years the Chicago Bears wide receiver position has been at its best when employing a certain type of receiver. One that wins less with finesse and more with size and strength. It was true of Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and then Cameron Meredith. The Bears like their receivers to be big. Or more precisely the previous Bears coaches liked it that way.
Things could be about to change with the arrival of Matt Nagy and his new staff. For the first time the Bears offensive system is going in a direction it hasn’t at least in the past seven years. Maybe ever. Nagy and his new offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich are proponents of the spread offense. Both used heavy elements of it to considerable success at the pro and college levels. It stands to reason they will do the same in Chicago.
The key though is the spread-style requires a different sort of athlete, particularly at the wide receiver position. Less emphasis is placed on size and strength and more on speed, quickness and sharp route running. This is likely to change how the Bears approach both free agency and the draft.
Bears wide receiver position could see influx of smaller, quicker, faster
Up until recently there was a general feel for which receivers might be prioritized by GM Ryan Pace going into this off-season both in re-signings and free agency. That’s no longer the case. Names like Dontrelle Inman and even Meredith can’t be considered locks to return. Meredith will probably stay but this new staff can be considered a dream scenario for Kendall Wright. His game should fit well with them.
Nagy though will be seeking out more help. What the Bears really could use is a vertical weapon similar to what he had in Tyreek Hill with the Chiefs. Somebody who create matchup problems but also hit the home run when the situation calls for it.
Of course it’s difficult to find receivers with 4.2 speed so the Bears may have to make some compromises. At the same time this 2018 free agent class may actually be compliant in help achieve that goal. There are quite a few names who could fit in well with their new system, both of the expensive or cheap varieties.
- Jarvis Landry
- John Brown
- Jaron Brown
- Taylor Gabriel
- Paul Richardson
- Sammy Watkins
Most of those names may not jump out as true #1 receivers but at the same time each has proven invaluable to their respective offense in terms of making big plays. The best spread offense typically feature an array of such types, making it difficult for defenses to stop them because they are numerous and on the field at the same time. With a quick, accurate quarterback like Mitch Trubisky on the trigger? That’s a deadly combination.
The Bears know this. It will be fun to see how they go about building it.