As productive as he has been in six healthy seasons in the NFL, wide receiver Allen Robinson notably never has played with the wind at his back.
The Jaguars’ and Bears’ offenses have ranked 31st, 18th, 23rd, 21st, 29th and 26th in total yards. His quarterbacks have been highly touted prospects who disappointed and career backups: Blake Bortles, Mitch Trubisky, Chad Henne, Chase Daniel and Nick Foles.
How effective Andy Dalton will be after being let go by the Bengals in 2020 and playing as a backup with the Cowboys remains to be seen. But his nine years of NFL experience already have made a difference.
“It’s been good,” Robinson said. “There’s a lot you can take from a quarterback who’s played that long in the NFL. We’ve been in communication a lot — watching film, seeing certain stuff, timing of stuff, making sure I’m on his time. It’s constant communication. Typically after every play, completion or no completion, making sure I’m where he wants me at.
“It really helps you play free as a receiver just knowing, ‘OK, this is what he wants.’ I know where I need to be at. It’s been very smooth.”
Robinson is in his fourth season with the Bears since signing as a free agent in coach Matt Nagy’s rookie year of 2018. He has had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons — 98 receptions for 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019; a career-high 102 receptions for 1,250 yards and six touchdowns last season.
At 27 (he turns 28 on Aug. 24), Robinson is in his prime and poised for a big season if the Bears’ offense — and quarterback — cooperates. His second season with Bortles and the Jaguars remains the benchmark — 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and an NFL-leading 14 touchdowns.
“He’s in really great shape,” Nagy said. “It has nothing to do with the quarterbacks. He’s in great shape. His route-running — he’s taken that to the next level, and he’s putting it together with both quarterbacks [Dalton and rookie Justin Fields].”
Nagy can see the chemistry between the veterans developing in training camp — particularly on a deep pass pattern when a defensive back undercut a crossing route, and Dalton adjusted the throw to give Robinson a chance to make the catch. It’s that kind of chemistry that allows a quarterback and receiver to respond in real time to what the defense is doing.
“As we go through things like that — whether it’s deep crosses, short crosses, whatever the case may be,” Robinson said, “getting those opportunities where you know he’s throwing us open . . . will allow for a lot of big plays this season as we’re able to see things and adapt to different defenses — whether they’re chasing or undercutting or playing over the top. He’s been able to put the ball in the window and just make the DB run.”
There’s a long way to go. But with a proven receiver such as Robinson, the Bears are hopeful a veteran quarterback can get the most out of him.
“Me and Andy have connected a lot,’’ Robinson said. ‘‘I think we’ve been pretty efficient. If you go back and watch the film on plays that we have executed, we try to figure out . . . how can that be better?
“To this point, I definitely like where we’re at as quarterback-receiver, our relationship on the field and how we’re able to talk through things. I think it’s been working really well.”