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Snap judgment: Surprise playing time among Bears wide receivers vs. Lions

A look at how snap counts shook out for the Bears at several positions in their Week 1 win over the Lions.

Ted Ginn played a lot, but Mitch Trubisky threw to him just once.
Ted Ginn played a lot, but Mitch Trubisky threw to him just once.
Rick Osentoski/AP

One of the many puzzles Bears coach Matt Nagy needed to solve going into the season was how he would set up the hierarchy of his skill players. It’s the essential question of who he wants to prioritize in the offense, and in the 27-23 win over the Lions, it was wide receiver Allen Robinson (nine targets, one rush), running back David Montgomery (13 rushes, three targets) and running back Tarik Cohen (seven carries, two targets).

That said, Anthony Miller was the star in the passing game with four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. It was a top-five game in his young career.

It’s interesting, though, that Ted Ginn actually played more. Here’s a look at the snap distribution among the wide receivers:

Robinson, 82% of the offensive plays
Ginn, 43%
Miller, 42%
Javon Wims, 35%
Darnell Mooney, 32%

Their actual use, however, was not proportionate. Mitch Trubisky targeted Ginn just once, while he threw to Miller six times, Mooney three times and Wims twice. If Ginn continues to get that little attention, Nagy needs to reallocate his reps to Miller, Wims and Mooney.

The Bears are hoping Mooney, a fifth-round pick, will develop into a regular contributor. After an impressive preseason, he caught all three of his targets and totaled 38 yards against the Lions.

Tight end usage

Jimmy Graham was second among skill players in usage at 80% of the snaps. His high last season was 73%, and he played 55% or fewer nine times. The last time Graham played as high of a percentage as he did Sunday was October 2018 for the Packers.

Graham looked a little off and admitted as much, and finished with three catches for 25 yards and a touchdown on seven targets.

Nagy played veteran Demetrius Harris (40%) more than rookie Cole Kmet (31%), and J.P. Holtz got five snaps (8%). Kmet and Harris were each targeted once and did not have a catch.

Mack’s workload

The Bears don’t have any proven pass rushers at outside linebacker other than Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn, so without Quinn, it was all on Mack. He played 86% of the snaps and finished with four tackles. The Bears’ only sack was by defensive tackle Akiem Hicks with about five minutes left.

The Bears must be mindful of overworking Mack, who played through a knee injury Sunday.

He played 86.2% of the defensive snaps last season and didn’t always seem to be at his best. His snaps would be more efficient with Quinn drawing some blockers, and he’ll be fresher if the Bears can rest him. They probably felt they had no choice but to keep him out there Sunday since they were trailing most of the afternoon.

Perfect attendance

The Bears’ starting offensive line played the entire game except for left guard James Daniels missing one play because of a shoe issue. Trubisky also took every snap.

Defensively, it was the usuals: cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson played 100% of the time. But so did rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson and new safety Tashaun Gipson. Linebacker Roquan Smith, who typically plays 100%, was out two snaps.