Adam L. Jahns’ “Read Options” column appears in Chicago Football Weekly, which is available Thursday or Friday in the Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Herald, Rockford Register Star, Northwest Herald, Kankakee Daily Journal, Peoria Journal Star and on ChicagoFootball.com.
Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery says it in an almost every interview. When the Bears’ offense is healthy, “the sky is the limit,” he says.
And really, that directly applies to him.
Jeffery has been unstoppable since returning from a strained hamstring that kept him out four weeks. He topped 100 yards receiving for third consecutive game Monday night against the Chargers, making 10 receptions for 151 yards.
“He’s making it easy on me,” quarterback Jay Cutler said.
And he’s making re-signing him an easy decision for general manager Ryan Pace, too. Pairing him with Kevin White should remain in the Bears’ plans. Jeffery is too dominant, too special to let go.
If the Bears and Jeffery’s camp can’t reach a long-term agreement, the franchise tag will be a good option, especially if injury concerns re-emerge over the last eight games.
The best part of Jeffery’s play over the last three weeks for the Bears is that he’s acting like a No. 1 receiver. He remains soft-spoken – he will never be like Brandon Marshall – but he is demanding the ball in his own way.
That’s what Jeffery did after Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett recorded a pick-six by taking advantage of Jeffery’s miscue with Cutler on Monday night.
“I told [Cutler] to give me a go-route no matter what the coverage is,” Jeffery said. “I’m going right back at him.”
Cutler did just that, hitting Jeffery for a 47-yard gain with Verrett in coverage. Verrett aggravated his groin injury on the play and didn’t return. It was Jeffery’s first catch of the game and a turning point in the Bears’ win.
“He’s a big-time receiver,” coach John Fox. “This is our first year with him. It started a little slow with nagging injuries. He worked very hard to get back, and he’s been a big part of our offense in the last three games. It sure helps when you have that kind of player out there.”
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The Bears’ pass defense, which is ranked fifth in the league, deserves plenty of attention. But the Bears aren’t exactly porous against the run anymore.
The Bears have only allowed two rushing touchdowns in eight games this season. That’s tied with the Jets for the fewest in the league.
The longest run the Bears have allowed this season is Lions safety Isa Abdul-Quddus’ 30-yard on a fake punt.
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It will be interesting to see if tight end Zach Miller’s one-handed touchdown grab is a sign of things to come for him.
Miller has improved considerably as a blocker, including at fullback, but the Bears brought him back for what he can do in the passing game. His highlight-reel grab in San Diego was only his fifth catch this season.
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