Read Options: Great time for Bears to evaluate Jeremy Langford
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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.
Jeremy Langford wanted all the fingers pointed at him. It was his drop. It was his mistake that cost the Bears a potential first down and a possible victory against the Vikings at Soldier Field.
“That’s on me,” the rookie running back said. “I have to do a better job of catching the ball first before trying to run. [Jay] Cutler did a good job of getting out of the pocket and getting the ball to me. I just have to make that play.”
It did look like a classic case of a player looking to run before having the ball. But his willingness to face the music and be accountable for it is a great sign for a young player who is about to account for most of the Bears’ yardage out of the backfield.
The next-man-up world of the NFL is great for teams such as the Bears who are evaluating for the future. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase has tried to spell Matt Forte, but still considered it problematic because of all that he can do.
Now, with Forte ailing, it’ll be Langford who rarely leaves the field. Langford may be more of a home-run threat than Forte, but he still has much to learn. Langford has played sparingly in games because of that. He’s is not quite the blocker or receiver that Forte is.
But the Bears, from Cutler to Gase to coach John Fox, believe Langford has the tools to become something similar. He will get the touches to show it now.
“I like his football character,” Fox said. “It’s not too big for him. He’s very willing. So his mindset is to learn. I think Stan Drayton, his position coach, has done a tremendous job with him. And a lot of it is he’s very receptive. I call it football character. He picks things up very well for a young player.”
Forte wasn’t showing any signs of slowing down, but an extended absence could have long-term implications. If Langford excels, the more likely the Bears will be to move on from Forte, who turns 30 in December and is looking for a new contract.
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The unceasing injuries at receiver for the Bears haven’t turned into a big season for tight end Martellus Bennett. In seven games, Bennett has 37 catches on 58 targets for 324 yards and two touchdowns.
His production is down from the same point last season despite being targeted the same exact amount. Last season, he had 41 catches for 419 yards and four touchdowns.
What’s to blame?
It hasn’t help that the offense line has been in flux in Gase’s first year in control. But Bennett would likely look at himself. He had two catches broken up in the end zone in Detroit and drops in Kansas City.
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I continue to be impressed by the performances of the Bears’ makeshift offensive lines. Sunday’s game against the Vikings featured their fifth offensive-line combination, and a sixth should be expected this week.
Look for Hroniss Grasu to return to center and Patrick Omameh to stick at right guard.
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns