In this week’s edition of Take 2, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times and Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly discuss the Bears’ situation at wide receiver heading into Week 2:
Fishbain: In Houston, Alshon Jeffery reminded everyone he’s Alshon Jeffery. And Kevin White reminded everyone he hadn’t played in a meaningful game in nearly two years. Patrick, if a defense watches that game, they’ll roll their coverages to Jeffery, which should open things up for last year’s top pick, someone the Bears haven’t been shy about pumping up all offseason. So where should the concern meter be with White? Is he always going to have rookie hiccups?
Finley: You bet defenses are going to worry about Jeffery. And it will be interesting to see how he performs as the center of attention for 16 weeks for the first time in his pro career. Jeffery was good-to-great last year – when he was healthy – but that was the first time he played without a better receiver on the other side of the field. As for White, it was fair to expect some growing pains – he’d never played an NFL game before.
His limited route tree at West Virginia, though, means the learning curve is even steeper. Here’s my three-part question, Kevin, and I think it’s a gigantic one: Why should Jay Cutler trust White? Will he? And what happens if he doesn’t?
Fishbain: Oh man, could you imagine not being in Jay’s ‘Trust Tree’? Quite the disparity from the honor of being one of his trusted receivers. Cutler doesn’t have much of a choice than to make it work with White, and he’s been around the game long enough to know White has raw abilities that need to be honed.
White obviously has to take it upon himself to earn that trust and improve his route running to be more precise, but Dowell Loggains also has to draw up plays that put White in position to succeed, right? Will we see some more screens next week, or simple go patterns from White? Or should it not be on Loggains and Cutler to be so careful with a No. 7 pick?
Finley: In a perfect world, Loggains and Cutler wouldn’t have to treat him with kid gloves. But in each of the two most relevant NFL games he’s ever played – Sunday and the third preseason game – White ran a route that scuttled a drive.
What choice do they have now? I’d love to see a bubble screen or two against the Eagles. Shoot, how about a fly sweep? An end around? Success will only build on itself, though, so the fastest way to shake his funk is to catch passes. The garbage-time catch against the Texans was a start. Think he can continue that momentum into Monday night?
Fishbain: I’m not sure how much of a believer I am in the momentum, but I think there’s something to be said for confidence, and White needs some. Any he received from that garbage-time catch was probably wiped away after he re-watched the film. Simple screens are a great way to build confidence, allowing White to make some plays in the open field.
I think it’s fair to overreact to White’s debut, especially because mostly everything else was somewhat predictable. At least Jeffery looked dominant, and don’t forget about Eddie Royal! Those two can continue to keep the pressure off White.
Finley: They can, for sure – Royal looked better Sunday than at any point in his Bears career – but let’s not discount White’s importance. When the Bears traded Martellus Bennett and let Matt Forte walk via free agency, they seemed to be screaming out for an offensive star to take their place.
It wasn’t Zach Miller or Jeremy Langford against the Texans; they combined to catch five balls for 20 yards. For the Bears to make the strides they want, White must fill that void, sooner or later. The Bears are hoping for the former.