The Chicago Bears will look a heck of a lot different this year than they did last season — in the coaching department, that is. Their linebackers will be quite diverse as well now that they are without two of their starters from last season in Brian Urlahcer and Nick Roach.
Entering training camp there will be many eyes on how the offense performs while new head coach Marc Trestman calls the plays. Quarterback Jay Cutler has a bit more help on the offensive line going into 2013 and the organization has set him up to succeed in the final year of his contract.
While much of the attention is on All Pro wideout Brandon Marshall, it’s going to be who Marshall calls his ‘mini-me’ that should be receiving extra eyes during camp.
The second year pro Alshon Jeffery had somewhat of a disappointing rookie season, finishing with just 24 catches for 367 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games. The Bears have big expectations for the 6’3” wideout and anticipate him to make a giant leap this season lining up opposite of Marshall, giving them more of a ‘twin towers’ look for their 1-2 punch at wide receiver.
Jeffery showed promise at times last season, being able to make some excellent moves to get past his man and find himself open. There were moments where he looked like he could have his coming out party, but then the next minute he’d be dropping a wide open pass such as the all-important potential touchdown he had against the Minnesota Vikings last year. That game wound up losing the Bears a playoff berth in the end.
I absolutely love Jeffery’s potential, but he’s going to have to work much harder on the little things. Learning the playbook a bit more will be the first step, as he looked somewhat confused at certain points and miscommunication occurred between he and Cutler. Working on the fundamentals in regards to his hands will be another great place to focus in on.
There’s no doubt Jeffery has the physical build and the moves to be a formidable receiver as a pro. He simply needs to continue his development and moving forward. The good news is that he probably couldn’t do as mediocre as he did last season and he will only improve at this point.
Jeffery has been working with Marshall off and on, training together and learning from one of the best wide receivers in the NFL over the past five or six seasons. With a mentor like number 15, Jeffery will undoubtedly improve in his areas of weakness. Look for him to be aggressive and come out in camp on a mission.