One of the most inept offenses in the NFL could get even worse Sunday — receiver Allen Robinson, by far the Bears’ best player on that side of the ball, is in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
On fourth-and-3 with 4:11 to play Monday night, Robinson caught a six-yard pass, was tackled from behind by Rams safety Nick Scott and went face-first into the SoFi Stadium turf. Robinson was sent to the sideline by an official, where he appeared dazed as he was treated by Bears doctors. He did not return to the game.
Bears coach Matt Nagy said Wednesday he’ll be prepared to draft a game plan with or without Robinson on Sunday against the Saints.
“It’s like a lot of these other teams when they lose a star player on any side of the ball — it’s always gonna hurt you,” he said. “Because you look at it from the defensive perspective: there’s a lot of games that we go into where these teams gotta change their game plan as to how they’re gonna play against him. And so, from our end, when we’re talking about scheming, we have to make sure that we’re scheming for both sides of it.
“We have to be prepared that he is playing. And then we’ve got to be prepared that he’s not playing.”
The Saints, meanwhile, will assume he is — it’s easier to adjust that way.
“He’s got such strong hands in traffic,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “He can high-point balls. He can catch it inside and outside. There’s a number of things he provides and you’re gonna see him throughout the formation — it’s not going to be just in the slot or just outside in one spot.
”He’s just one of those guys that you feel like you have to account for not only in the field but in the situational part of the game. But we have to take the approach that he’s playing.”
For a team that’s struggled for weeks to find offensive rhythm, the idea of Robinson missing a game is somewhere between unnerving and depressing. The Bears’ 19.7 points per game is the sixth-lowest mark in the NFL. They’re fourth-to-last with 308 yards per game — ahead of only Washington, the Giants and the Jets, who have combined to win five of 23 games
.This season, Robinson has 44 catches on 70 targets for 544 yards and two touchdowns. Amazingly, 26 of his catches have gone for first downs.
If Robinson isn’t cleared by Sunday, Nagy could turn to Javon Wims, the receiver who played 28.6 percent of the team’s offensive snaps — his most since Week 3 — on Monday night. More likely, Nagy could tinker with formations. Using more multi-tight end sets would enable him to find more playing time — and targets — for rookie Cole Kmet. Nagy vowed to do just that after Monday’s game.
“That’s the reason why these guys behind [Robinson] work hard every single day is that, if they ever get that chance, that’s gonna be their time to shine,” Nagy said. “So I’ve always been a believer in, injuries are a part of the game. That’s what happens.”
The loss of Robinson, though, would be a blow to an offense that hasn’t proven it’s strong enough to withstand one. He’s been the one constant on a unit that has, since the end of last season switched coordinators; replaced two other position coaches; created a pass-game coordinator role: swapped out quarterbacks; and lost both running back Tarik Cohen and starting left guard James Daniels to injury.
“We talk about, ‘Complaints kill culture,’” Nagy said. “You can’t do that. You can’t complain. You’ve got to get the next guy up. You’ve got to get [the next guy] prepared and he’s gotta go play and we’ve gotta coach. It is what it is. We’ll be ready to go. Either way.”