In the pouring rain at Soldier Field on Sunday Night Football, the Chicago Bears put on a miserable display on offense. That was made possible from an anemic running game, Kellen Davis not knowing how to catch a football, and Jason Campbell not being able to throw more than 10 yards down the field.
What has become very apparent in the past few weeks, though, is that the absence of rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery has hurt this team. Jeffery went down with a hand injury at the beginning of October. That has left the Bears without a major weapon in their passing game.
Brandon Marshall has been absolutely fantastic for the Bears in his first year in Chicago. But he can’t do it all. Marshall has been the Bears’ only reliable receiver and it seems like he’s seen most of the targets each week. He’s an elite receiver, but he needs some help. That’s where Jeffery comes in.
Devin Hester is completely unreliable as a receiver. Earl Bennett is not healthy, and it’s obvious. Johnny Knox is going to be out for the year, and his status for his career is uncertain. The Bears have no tight end that can be even the slightest contributor in the passing game. That essentially leaves Marshall and Matt Forte as the team’s two weapons in the passing game.
Jeffery may be a rookie, but he was coming along quite nicely in his first year. He gives the Bears the necessary size on each side of the field for Jay Cutler or Campbell, while allowing guys like Hester and Bennett to remain in the slot, where either one is more effective.
Within the next couple of weeks, and potentially next Monday night, Jeffery will return. That return should go a long way towards helping this Bears offense shake the struggles that they’ve experienced in the passing game since he went down. But the Bears lack play makers in the passing game, outside of Marshall. That much is evident, and it has become clear that Jeffery is a key part of this offense.