On the heels of a 12-4 season, the Monsters of the Midway have made it a point of emphasis this offseason to continue the development of Matt Nagy’s West Coast offense.
While their dominant defense was much to thank for their first place finish in the NFC North, there are hopes that a second full offseason learning Nagy’s playbook can help their offense (just 21st in total yards in 2018), particularly the passing game, achieve new heights.
While much of their 2019 success hinges on the continual development of QB Mitchell Trubisky, a big campaign from WR Allen Robinson could really help speed up the entire process.
In his first year in navy and orange, Robinson showed flashes of what the Bears envisioned when they inked him to a three-year, $42 million deal in March of 2018. In 12 games, he managed to catch over 58 percent of his targets en route to 754 yards and 4 touchdowns. If you stretch that out over a 16-game span, he would’ve totaled just over 1,000 receiving yards (1,005 to be exact).
Over or Under: 1,000 receiving yards in 2019?
As health has remained a concern for Robinson, perhaps this is the year he can stay on the field and return to his Pro-Bowl form by hitting the 1,000-yard threshold.
At this time last season, Robinson participated offseason activities in limited fashion as he rehabbed a torn ACL, an injury that robbed him of most of his 2017 season. An entire offseason at full health digesting Nagy’s playbook could prove to be just what he needed to return to his 1,400-yard, 14 touchdown self this year.
Luckily for Robinson, he’s had plenty of time this spring to get his body right and build chemistry with his QB and will come into Week 1 at full strength for the first time in two years. It was reported by earlier this March that the two worked on their games together in Huntington Beach, California.
Already Trubisky’s favorite target, Robinson even stated that he feels like the offense is already “years ahead” of where they were last year.
Robinson seems to believe big things are in store for their offensive attack with Trubisky calling the shots. JJ Stankevitz, reporter NBC Sports Chicago, tweeted the wideout’s most recent comments last Thursday.
#Bears WR Allen Robinson today after practice: "We're not out here to just manage the game or anything like that. We're trying to score points. We're trying to be the best offense in the NFL."
— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) June 13, 2019
When looking back at the history of the Andy Reid coaching tree, it’s not inconceivable that this offense can take massive strides in Year 2 of the Nagy regime.
Eagles’ HC Doug Pederson, also a former Kansas City assistant, took Philadelphia in 2017 from the 22nd best offense (5,398 yards) in his first season as head coach to seventh-best (5,852 yards) in his second year. A complex system as has been shown, the playbook Nagy brought with him to Chicago isn’t one that can be learned overnight. Based off early offseason reports and comments from Nagy himself, the second-year leap from Robinson and Co. seems inevitable.
The Verdict: Over
Although his statistics from a season ago don’t exactly jump off the page, they undermine how well he actually played in 2018.
At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Robinson is amongst the best in the game when it comes to beating contested coverage.
According to Pro Football Focus, Robinson finished 2018 with the fourth-highest contested catch rate of any WR. PFF even awarded him a grade of 74.7, the highest of any Bears starter on offense last year.
Although not the speediest pass-catcher, he’s a crisp route runner that uses his long frame to separate himself from defenders. For this reason, he was still a sufficient vertical threat in 2018, reeling-in 45 percent of deep passes that were sent his way (ninth-best in the NFL).
Indeed, his ability to surpass 1,000 yards this year will partly fall on Trubisky’s shoulders. While the young gunslinger admittedly has his flaws, it must be remembered that Robinson’s illustrious 2015 campaign came with Blake Bortles throwing him the ball. Robinson’s production should remain consistent if Trubisky can take even the slightest step forward.
Some may have forgotten what the once-elite receiver is capable of, but their memories will likely be jogged once No. 12 hits the field this fall.