When people think of the Chicago Bears, defense is almost always the first thing that comes to mind. The Bears defense seems to always be somewhere near the top of the NFL, and the offense always seems to be near the bottom of the barrel. However, the talent at the skill positions seems to be there for the Bears offense to become one of the best in the league, with players such as quarterback Jay Cutler, running back Matt Forte, wide receiver Brandon Marshall and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Surprised to see Jeffery’s name listed among those players? You shouldn’t be. Jeffery could actually be the key to the entire offense. While it is true that Jeffery is not the number one receiver, his size and ability make him a solid second option for Cutler. Standing 6’3″ and weighing in at 216 lbs, Jeffery is pretty close to being a prototypical wide receiver. Not to mention, Jeffery has decent speed allowing him to stretch the field despite his size.
Many Bears fans had been more excited about Jeffery who was drafted in the second round, than 2012 first round pick Shea McClellin following last years NFL Draft. One of the Bears biggest issues had been wide receiver, and fans were excited about the idea of Marshall on one side standing 6’4″ and Jeffery lining up on the other side. This seemingly was going to give the Bears actual NFL receivers for the first time in a very long time.
However, that did not quite pan out in 2012 the way most thought it would. Jeffery was slowed by a rash of injuries in his rookie year. A broken hand suffered early in the season while scoring a touchdown would sideline the rookie receiver for five games. Then, when Jeffery returned he suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for another two weeks. Missing seven out of eight games in the middle of the season greatly stunted Jeffery’s growth and never allowed him to reach the levels most expected from him.
The Bears offense was plagued by the fact that no receiver truly stepped up to be a second option to Marshall in 2012. Had Jeffery been healthy, he would have only gotten better and more comfortable in Mike Tice‘s offense.While Cutler loves receiver Earl Bennett, Bennett has also suffered from the injury bug failing to be that second option. Bennett may not posses Jeffery’s size, Bennett could be a solid number 3/possession receiver that gets those tough third down yards. It is truly frustrating to see two very talented receivers in Bennett and Jeffery fail to stay on the field, knowing the help they could give Cutler and the Bears offense.
Plain and simple a healthy Alshon Jeffery will make this Bears offense better. Yes, the Bears do need to address tight end and offensive line, but the skill players are there to make this offense move like a well oiled machine. A full offseason in the Bears offense, and staying healthy is going to pay dividends for Jeffery. Marshall and Jeffery both playing at the top of their game, opposing corner backs will be sleepless before facing that combo.