The only thing we know for sure about the Chicago Bears plan for the 2021 season at the moment is they are bound and determined to bring their offense up to NFL modern day standards and they are willing to do it at the expense of the defense.
When you put a franchise tag on Allen Robinson and overpay for Andy Dalton while you are significantly over the salary cap, and then release Kyle Fuller and attempt to move Akiem Hicks to make it work, there can be no other explanation.
But how are they going to do it?
The one big hint and bigger surprise they’ve given us was what apparently was a fairly serious run at former Detriot Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay before he became a New York Giant.
In Golladay’s 2019 Pro Bowl campaign he (65 catches, 1,190 yards,11 TDs) and Marvin Jones (62 catches, 779 yards, 9 TDs) were the NFL’s top receiving duo and with Danny Amendola (62-678, 1 TD) in the slot authored one of the leagues most explosive and productive passing games in spite of playing half the season with Jeff Driskel and David Blough at quarterback.
Robinson is a far superior player than Jones, and while Mooney’s star has just begun to rise, his ceiling appears to be higher than Amendola’s.
It might have rendered the defense defenseless, but with David Montgomery coming off a breakout campaign and Tarik Cohen on his way back, you have to admit it was a pretty cool idea.
Unfortunately the Bears whiffed and the receiver corps remains totally unchanged.
So what now?
Mooney isn’t locked in the slot and may prove to be a legitimate No. 2 receiver, and A-Rob is one of the best. But after that the Bears have nothing but questions.
I am apparently one of the few who doesn’t believe Anthony Miller is a lost cause.
From the neck down he can do everything Mooney has done, perhaps even more, but I admit he has given us no reason to believe it’s finally going to happen.
I also like the few glimpses we’ve been allowed of Riley Ridley, but apparently the Bears don’t as he is often not even given a uniform, and whatever the Bears like about Javon Wims must be written in invisible ink.
So how do the Bears fill the role they envisioned for Golladay knowing they have even greater needs for two starting tackles and a starting safety?
Free agent Sammy Watkins isn’t Kenny Golladay, but he is the next best thing still available in free agency and a big upgrade over what the Bears have.
Alshon Jeffery hasn’t been completely healthy since 2014, but if he could pass a physical he’d be an inexpensive bet on rediscovering what he found his second and third seasons in Chicago, albeit a long time ago.
If Mooney can show the one thing he really rarely flashed last year, that sub 4.4 speed, it might work.
Remember Jeffery’s two outstanding seasons came playing Robin to Brandon Marshall’s Batman and A-Rob is clearly that guy.
More than likely the Bears will have to address this in the draft. The good news is tackle and wideout are the two deepest positions and there will be star power at both spots in the second and third rounds.
Take Ja’Marr Chase (LSU), DeVonta Smith (Alabama) and Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) off the board well before the Bears get a sniff, but should Kadarius Toney (Florida) fall to 20, which I doubt, the Bears should pounce.
He is a human highlight reel waiting to happen.
Any other pass catcher at 20 over the best tackle available would be a mistake but in round two if they’re there, Rashod Bateman (Minnesota), Terrace Marshall Jr. (LSU) and Tamorrion Terry (Florida St.) are names to covet.
You will hear about Purdue’s Rondale Moore because of his elite speed and explosive play-making ability, but he ran more of a nonexistent than limited route tree in college, and after measuring 5-7 at his pro day Wednesday I have huge worries what he will do at the next level.
The good news is there are potentially solid options available but how the Bears balance their needs at tackle and receiver in the first three rounds will be critical to this year’s and future success.